Beaufort News

Beaufort football team ready to take flight as Hornets this season

Fighter jets soar over the field at Grays Hill Community Center at regular intervals.

The rush of noise adds to the character of the Beaufort Hornets football practices. But after three months of working together twice a week, the Hornets -- an adult football team formerly called the Broncos -- are ready to trade the engine noise for sounds of actual competition.

They earn their shot today in the Xtreme Conference season opener, a home game at Whale Branch Middle School against the Charleston Commanders.

"We just want to hit somebody else, basically," Hornets quarterback EJ Legree said. "We've been practicing for a long time. We just really want to play."

The Broncos became the Hornets after the previous team owners moved to Florida, coach Marion Smalls said. Smalls, in his sixth season coaching the group, took over primary ownership and rounded up sponsors.

Not wanting a legal tangle with the previous regime, he changed the name to the Hornets and ordered new uniforms.

The team plays in the Xtreme Conference of the Gridiron Developmental Football League. Players aren't paid. They take the field for practice based on their work schedule and coordination with families.

Some are still trying to make it on a college squad or professionally, Smalls said. Some play only for the enjoyment of the game.

"The guys out here, they do it for a higher power, I guess you'd say," said offensive lineman Eddie Bowles, who at 35 is oldest on the team. "They're out here because they want to be out here. They love this game."

The Broncos finished 9-1 during the 2010 regular season and won their first-round playoff game against Asheville before falling in the second round. The Hornets' goal this season would be a return trip to Asheville, which this season will host the GDFL national championship and all-star game.

IF YOU GO

What: Charleston Commanders at Beaufort Hornets

Where: Whale Branch Middle School

When: 7 tonight

Admission: $6 for adults, $3 for kids ages 6-11, kids 5 and under are free.

Info: Concessions will include a seafood spread with fish filets, shrimp and French fries.

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