Heading into their second season in the Florida Champion Football League, an adult amateur sports organization, the Polk County Rise are well positioned to make some noise this season.
It’s an exciting time for Arnell Scott, who has owned the team since it began and says he got into owning the team by chance
“I got in it almost by accident,” Scott said. “A couple teams asked if I could come on and help out. My background is in strength and conditioning and I met those guys through that.
I contributed through that, then there was a falling out between me and the owner. They asked me if I could put something together and, in September 2018, the Polk County Rise was born from there.”
Last year, the Orlando Phantoms and Dade County Raiders met in the championship game for the FCFL, with the Phantoms winning it all. Both teams are now in different leagues, though, which leaves things wide open for the 10 teams involved.
The league has two divisions — North and South — with five teams playing in each. The playoffs will likely consist of two games before the championship game, which will take place in Orlando.
The league also follows NFL rules.
For the Rise, who in Bartow, they’ll be led by Sherman Dale, who coached the team last year. They also have a blend of new and returning players.
“We definitely have a high level of athletic skill players,” Scott said. “Us performing better on defense, shutting teams out and keeping their score low is a main focus… (We) just (need) to execute and play as close to a perfect game as possible and put on a great show in Bartow and the fans that follow us.”
All of the games for the Rise will take place on Saturdays at 7 p.m., beginning with a game Feb. 8 against the Lakeland Jokers at Bryant Stadium in Lakeland.
Home games for the Rise will take place at Bartow Ball Park. There will be raffles, concession stands, goods and beverages plus merchandise such as shirts and hats at every game.
“It’s a family event, so we want kids to come out and we encourage interaction with our players,” Scott said.
Given the proximity of the Lakeland and Polk teams to each other, Scott expects the Rise’s game to become a big deal.
“It’s a big deal of a game,” Scott said. “(Lakeland is) a first year team and we’re a second year team. For us it is a fresh start and we have new players and new coaches on board. We also have a better idea and insight on how playing in a competitive league goes.”
All other information about the Rise can be found at Polkcountyrise.com. You can also follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Polk-County-RISE-Football-667036963677251/ and on Instagram at @polkcountyrise.