Football revived in Chico


The Sun Devils gather for a water break during their practice. Photo credit: Jordan Jarrell

After Chico State canceled their football program in 1997, people were left without the collisions and cheers that can only be found on the Gridiron.

The California Sun Devils are a nonprofit semi-professional football team that is giving residents of Chico a chance to experience their favorite pastime. The organization plays in Butte County and offers a chance to walk onto the field and be a part of the team.

“All positions are open. We need as many players as we can get,” Head Coach Tony Brice said.

The team is attempting to fill in their 53-man roster and has yet to finish recruiting for their season. The first tryout was on Aug. 22 but did not yield enough results, as they lack an effective offense to bolster their team.

“We didn’t do well last year on offense so this year we are going to try something new and improve on it,” Brice said.

The team is available to students but is not exclusive, and allows anyone to join as long as they continue to attend the practices. The Sun Devils suffered last season with just one win in their 10 game schedule and placed last in the Pacific Coast Football league.

The difficulties the organization faced in the last season have been corrected by their coaching staff and recruitment process according to coach Brice.

“Our coaching staff this year is a lot more prepared because of more coaches stepping forward,” Brice said.

The team offers an opportunity for athletes who felt their football career ended too early, either by injury or unsuccessful attempts to play at the collegiate level and beyond. First-year defensive end Dorian Edwards felt the Sun Devils gave him a second chance to fulfill his dreams of being on the field.

“I love getting another opportunity to play football, I thought my career was over when I left community college,” Edwards said.

The team requests a $150 donation during the season to fund uniforms, traveling expenses, equipment, and practice time. The team offers payment plans throughout the year to better accommodate their athletes.

The program remains in its recruitment process but has already snagged several promising players from college and high school. The chance to continue playing football was an opportunity that first-year linebacker Miles Thomas was eager to take.

“I never knew Butte county had a semi-pro football team. I definitely look forward to padding up again,” Thomas said. “I haven’t played football since high school.”

The Sun Devils continue to offer a chance to throw on some shoulder pads to the locals of Chico who refuse to hang up their cleats, as they scour to fill in their roster.

Jordan Jarrell can be reached at [email protected] or @JJOrion on Twitter.