DUNEDIN — Just because football at the college and professional ranks are finished up or winding down doesn’t mean 11-on-11 tackle football is in hibernation mode.
Enter the Dunedin Pirates and Tampa Bay Thunder. Both teams will clash in a highly anticipated matchup on January 22 at Dunedin High School. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m.
Playing in the Football Federation Alliance, the Pirates will be kicking off their 11th season of play and the Thunder will be starting their first.
Dunedin finished 6-6 in 2021, reaching the Divisional Round of the FFA playoffs before losing 22-13 to the Southwest Florida Gladiators of Bradenton. The Pirates bring back several key players from last season, including quarterback Nate Munson, wide receiver DeQuon Bryant, linebackers Jesse Cowart and Darrius Small and defensive back Felipe Small.
The Thunder are led by team president Jake Moore, who is the son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ tight end Dave Moore. He has assembled one of the league’s most-talented rosters. Among those playing for the Thunder is former NFL’er Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was a NFL Pro Bowl cornerback for the New York Giants. Tampa Bay features several other players, including James Everett aka ‘RouteGod’ and former Western Kentucky product Tay Scott.
Tampa Bay will play all of their home games at Sickles High School in Tampa. The meeting between the Pirates and Thunder is the first of two matchups, with the second to be played at Sickles on Feb. 26. Both teams will be in the Football Federation Alliance’s West Division, along with the Gladiators and the Florida Stingrays of Fort Myers.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.