Trenton Freedom Ready To Kick Off Indoor Football Season
EAST WINDSOR (NJ) – Media Day at the Holiday Inn signifies another hurdle as the Trenton Freedom speed toward their inaugural PIFL (Professional Indoor Football League) home opener. The Freedom open their season Sunday, with an afternoon kickoff (2 pm) against the Richmond Raiders. Given incredible access, different views on what opening day signifies came from individuals in different positions.
“My expectation is to put the best team possible on the field and provide entertainment for families at an affordable price,” Megan Williams, the Freedom General Manager said.”
Williams talked about a few of the off the field projects she handled as the organization introduced themselves, branded and became a part of the Trenton community.
“We had to show that we really are here (in the Trenton community), that we really aren’t going anywhere, our bills are paid for at least three seasons.” Williams explained referring (but not mentioning by name) other failed attempts at bringing football to Trenton. “Our Meals on Wheels program and visits to community schools are starting to win some people over and they are beginning to believe that we are who and what we say we are, the players are wonderful when it comes to going into the community. I let them know how many we need and they literally can’t wait to sign up and give back.”
With a lot of the groundwork in motion, Williams is ready to see what’s next she stressed how she can’t wait for the season to start.
“I’m anxiously nervous about Sunday as soon as they kick off I will let out a huge exhale.”
Kevin O’Hanlon has been a busy man. As the Head Coach of an expansion team, he is the face of the franchise until a player grabs that role on the field. Coach O’Hanlon played a huge role in assembling the coaching staff, scouting, public appearances, and a radio show. When asked about nervousness before his coaching debut O’Hanlon quipped.
“I’ve been too busy to get nervous, I guess. I have done everything two or three times just to make sure game day goes off without any hitches. I don’t have time to be nervous right now, but if you ask me a minute before kickoff and that may change.”
Immediately O’Hanlon went into game mode and talked about his expectations of his team.
“Offensively we want to set the tone. I told the team last night I don’t want to wait for the fight, let’s pick the fight. Let’s not sit back and see how this game shakes out. Teams I’ve been associated with always dictated the game and I’m trying to get this team to understand that mentality.”
O’Hanlon considers himself a defensive coach and has confidence in his schemes, but is cautious about the expectations about his team on that side of the ball.
“We have better athletes right now,” O’Hanlon started. “We have some rookies that beat out veterans, but I think we are solid. It will show on the field.”
Three players expected to make a huge impact for the Freedom are quarterback Warren Smith, offensive lineman Will Brimfield, and defensive back Muhammad Shamsid-Deen. Smith led Richmond to the league championship last season and has experience and a little knowledge about the opponent.
“I know some things about their tendencies and on the flipside, they know what I’m good at and situations in which I can struggle,” Smith said.
The Jersey resident also spoke about the value of veteran leadership.
“We only have two and a half weeks for camp the more veteran leadership you have the better you are, so with me, Jerome (Hayes), and Melik (Brown) and a few other guys that have experience and the AFL or the PIFL we passed our experiences on to the new guys. I look at indoor football as a different sport from the outdoor game. Sure you use the same ball, run, and pass on a field etc but there are so many differences from the outdoor game that new guys have to learn.”
Smith and Brimfield both bring experience and talent to Trenton. Checking in at 6’6” 370 Brimfield passes the eye test. Brimfield did camp with the Orlando Predators (AFL) and was the last player released.
“Coach O’Hanlon called me the day I got cut and said they had a position for me here, and they would welcome me with open arms,” Brimfield said. “I still have the chip on my shoulder from the Orlando experience, I plan on dominating, and I don’t think anyone can stop me.”
Brimfield played in the PIFL in 2012 for the Knoxville Nighthawks and received a call up by the New Orleans Voodoo (AFL).
“I’m ready for this game. It has been five weeks, I’ve been in camp for five weeks strong (including Orlando), and this is my first game in a while.
Shamsid-Deen took 2012 off after a well-traveled career with stops after graduating from Eastern Washington.
“The year off gave my body a chance to rest and recharged my mind. I’m ready to go now. I’m there for the kids as a role model I want to be the best person that I can be,” Shamsid-Deen said.
“I feel that every day I can get better and better. I focus on playing levelheaded and not letting my emotions get the best of me,” Shamsid-Deen said, then added. “I really believe that if you are a good enough athlete, they will find you.”
Shamsid-Deen played in various indoor leagues and played with Terrell Owens on the Allen Wranglers.
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