Amid much speculation that this would be the final minor league football game for minor league veteran and former Carolina Panther and Tennessee Titan Detronn Harris, he went out with a bang if indeed it was his last, leading the No.1 seeded Georgia Bandits to the 2013 National Developmental Football League championship defeating the third-seeded Middle Georgia Wolfpack.
Trailing 6-0 after a Wolfpack touchdown by Chris Payne entering the third quarter, the Bandits scored 13 unanswered points a taking 13-6 lead on two Detronn Harris touchdown passes to Jherail Rhodes and Jameel Mitchum. Harris completed ten consecutive passes including the two touchdowns at one point in the third quarter.
“I credit the ownership and coaching staff for believing in me and my abilities all season to lead this team and together we got it done,” an always modest and humble Detronn Harris said. “I wasn’t hurt like I had been in previous championship games so at halftime I went to the coaching staff and asked them to let me have the game, they did. We were able to wear down their defensive line, get our chemistry going and we had a big third quarter.”
Middle Georgia would not go quietly despite a strong defensive effort in the second half from the Bandits. With less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Middle Georgia quarterback Steven Williams capped a drive with a touchdown pass to pull the Wolfpack to within one at 13-12. Special teams, as is the case on the minor league level, was Middle Georgia’s Achilles Heel. The Wolfpack missed both extra point attempts, including a botched snap on an attempt. Ty Barnes and his squad were unable to recover from that and their ensuing onside kick and the Bandits ran out the clock for the win.
“We played good enough to win but we didn’t and those missed extra points hurt us,” Wolfpack head coach Tyrone Barnes said. “Detronn [Harris] killed us and provided them with the leadership they needed and their defense made us one-dimensional on offense. It was a hard-hitting game and we played hard. I have nothing but respect for them, they won.”
“I saw some things they were doing on offense and I let our defense know and we able to take their running game away, especially the way Greg [Edwards] played, stuffing them up the middle that was huge for us,” Harris stated.
Harris was named the 2013 NDFL championship game MVP and 2013 NDFL Offensive Player MVP by the league and has conducted two different minor league football organizations to championships in the past four seasons. Harris’ previous championship came in 2010 with the Gwinnett/Georgia Jets in a 7-0 defeat on a bad ankle however he threw a game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds over the Atlanta Chiefs who ironically were led by current Wolfpack quarterback Stephen Williams. For his efforts Harris earned the league MVP honors that year in the Southern Football League.
In 2011 Harris would lead the Jets past the Chiefs 34-14 in a GDFL regular season game, his first against them since the 2010 title game. Harris described that game as his “best game against the Chiefs maybe anybody but right now I can’t think far enough back because I had some good ones in Birmingham [Arena team] since I wasn’t hurt.”
Harris was not alone in winning another minor league title as linebacker Greg Edwards, wide receiver Demetrius Griffin, defensive back/linebacker Trae Hille and quarterback Chris Smith were all on the 2013 Bandits title game roster as they were in 2010 with the Gwinnett/Georgia Jets.
Once featured by ESPN The Magazine in their October 2010 “Body Issue”, with current Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi gracing the cover in the buff, for his efforts and contributions to minor league football, Harris continued to hint that this was his final game albeit leaving the door slightly ajar for a return.
“…My final game? I think, say and feel it was. It was good to go out like this, on top, a champion, I’ve played a lot of football,” Harris shot back with confidence. “The only way I would come back is if a lot of things fell into place and some people came to me and said ‘ok, let’s get together and make one more good run, championship type of run for one more season’. If that doesn’t happen, then, yes this was my final game,” Harris firmly stated. “I love football at all levels and everyone knows that, if you know me.”
Many would be quick to reference Super Bowl winner and famed Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre, Harris is far from that as we’ll outline in an upcoming Total Sports Coverage exclusive with him later this summer.
The Bandits defeated the Georgia Rebels and Georgia (Douglas County) Riverdogs in their previous rounds of the NDFL playoffs to advance to the championship game. By virtue of winning the NDFL championship the Bandits also won the Continental Conference in the APDFL. We have confirmed via the ADPFL league office that the Bandits season is not complete. They have the option to play for both regional and national implications in the coming weeks. The ADPFL office has confirmed that the Continental Conference winner (Georgia Bandits) will face the SSFL Champion on June 29th. The Bandits/SSFL winner will face the National/American Conference winner for the ADPFL championship according to the ADPFL, brackets are below.