The Press Newspaper
Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to play semi-pro football.
Most players will tell you they simply love football and they never got the sport out of their blood after playing in high school. If a little glory comes their way just a few more times, well, that's OK, too.
The Northwest Ohio Raiders, owned by husband and wife Tom and Tiffany Turner of Genoa, play their home games at Clyde High School's Bob Bishop Stadium. The fifth-year team plays on Saturday nights at 7 p.m., and the season runs from the last Saturday in May through mid-August.
Several local players suit up for the Raiders, who compete in the United States Football Alliance (USFA). The Raiders, who were 2-6 last summer, have struggled with injuries this season and will take an 0-5 record into this Saturday's game.
"The second half of the season starts July 11, and we have home games July 11, 18, 25 and Aug. 8," Tiffany Turner said. "I really feel we can win four out of the next five games. We can turn it around. A lot of guys who are injured should be coming back. We're looking forward to having them back."
The Raiders, whose head coach is Tony Buder of Genoa, hold tryouts in February, and each season brings another opportunity to play football for area athletes.
Jeremy Harpal, 22, was a running back and wide receiver at Woodmore, where he led the Wildcats in rushing his junior and senior year. He was a second-team All-Suburban Lakes League running back, and he also ran track through his junior year.
Harpal (5-9, 175), who graduated in 2005, plays safety for the Raiders. He has missed a couple games due to an ankle injury in his first season with the team.
"I've always liked football," Harpal said. "That was my No. 1 sport. I had a chance to play again and I took the offer. Tiffany Turner is my cousin and she told me about it. I got asked to play two years ago, but I was down in Cincinnati and coming up here on Saturdays was a haul."
Harpal, who works security at Wal-Mart in Oregon, said playing semi-pro ball gave him a chance to play football with a new group of guys.
"High school was more organized, and you grew up with the kids and you knew how they played," Harpal said. "You get into this league and get used to new guys and how they are. There are some talented guys out there, but playing in high school you got to practice all the time. I thought the speed was a lot faster in high school. I was a lot faster in high school than I am now."
Aaron DeAnda, 20, has been the Raiders' starting tailback all season, and he even played in one game at safety. DeAnda scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run in his first game as a Raider.
DeAnda (5-8, 190), attended Clay for one year, in 2005-06, and played running back and safety. At the end of that school year he moved to Paulding and played running back and linebacker for the Panthers before graduating from there in 2007.
"I just always loved the game," said DeAnda, who has been a carpenter for a year. "After I got out of high school I figured I wanted another chance to play again. I went to the (Raiders) combine and they liked me and I liked it. It gave me a chance to get into it and I took the chance.
"It's actually not what I expected. I thought it would be a lot tougher. I'm not saying it's easy. There are a lot of good players out there. I thought I would be sitting the bench for the first year, getting a feel for the game. I was able to hop right in and compete with the best of them."