LIMA – Perhaps the best way – no make that the only way – to describe the Lima Warriors is that they play for the love of the game.
The semi-professional football team doesn’t pay any of its players or coaches, but it has been an entity continuously since 2001.
With a roster of players dotted with familiar names from local high schools, the Warriors play a 12 game schedule in the Minor League Football Alliance. The MLFA consists of three separate conferences. The eight team Big 8 conference of which the Warriors are a member, the 8 team Ohio Valley Conference, and the 6 team Interstate Conference.
The champions of the Big 8 and Ohio Valley Conference will meet in a league semi-final and will face the winner of the top two teams from the Interstate Conference for the league title.
The team is operated by a board of directors and recruits players by word of mouth and has won national championships in 2007 and 2010. Last year the Warriors finished 5-7 and look to improve defensively this year.
“We averaged 30 points per game but also gave up 30 points per game a year ago,” coach Todd Gordon said. “We brought in a new defensive co-coordinator this year to help fix the defense.”
Geno Burden is a former Warriors player who played at Bowling Green State University when Urban Meyer was the coach there.
Gordon, who also serves on Lima City Council, has been coaching football for 22 years. He spent 11 years as a youth football and this will his 11th season in semi-pro ball. He has six years with the Warriors and this will be his second season as head coach.
Burden and the Warriors are hoping that the addition of linebackers Ben Stolly (Lima Central Catholic) and Darrius Cousey (Lima Senior) can help bring stability to the Warriors defense.
Other local players the Warriors will be counting on include defensive end William Brown (Shawnee) and defensive back Taylor Bly (Elida).
The offense will be led by quarterback Billy Cozad who played under coach Mike Mauk at Kenton. A pair of Lima Senior grads who will be keys to the offensive success of the Warriors are running back Mike Macklin and wide receiver Marc Johnson.
The offensive line should be a strong point for the team and will be anchored by Rob Cameron (6-foot-3, 280) and Derek Coker (6-2, 350).
The Warriors open the season at home against the Ohio Crush. And also play at home on May 14th against the HP Polar Bears.
They will open league play June 4th at home against the Toledo Thunder. Other home games are June 11th versus the Battle Creek Coyotes, June 25th against the West Michigan Bulls, and July 30th versus the West Michigan Hawks.
All home games are played at Spartan Stadium and kick-off at 7:00 p. m.
Other players with area ties include Justice McGue (Hardin Northern), Eric Upthegrove (Lima Senior), and back-up quarterback Justin Henderson (Lima Senior) who is the veteran of the team nearing 40 years of age.
The Warriors still have expenses (equipment, rent, officials, and meals on road trips) to pay and use fundraisers and corporate donation to cover those expenses. Gordon said if anyone is interested in becoming a sponsor they may contact him at (419) 296-4992.