With training camp officially underway, the Massachusetts Pirates are gearing up for their 2021 season after being away from the game for the entirety of 2020. They have a full 16-game slate with half of the games to be played on Phoenix Field at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA. After a tough 2020 that was strange for everybody, things seem to be getting back to normal as the Pirates return with high hopes for a successful season.

The team has a great mix of returning players and players that have never stepped foot on an indoor football field before. The offense has plenty of experience with the game of indoor football, but on the defensive side of the ball, there will be plenty of new faces mixed in with some experienced players. Khalid Wooten and Chucky Williams are the only defensive backs with indoor experience out of six total rostered defensive backs.

“The offense has a lot of experience. I know my secondary is really young. A lot of them have never even played indoor football,” said Assistant Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator, and Defensive Backs Coach Rayshaun Kizer. “We should be okay. We have more than enough days of practice to teach these guys the game until we head to Louisville, so we should be perfectly fine.” Coach Kizer, a former defensive back himself, is a great person to lead these less-experienced guys into the game of indoor football and put them in a position to play right away as if they are veterans.

The defensive experience comes upfront with the defensive line and linebackers. Defensive lineman J.D. Griggs is returning for his third season with the Pirates while defensive linemen Willie Yarbury and Toby Johnson, as well as linebacker Tavarus Dantzler also bring veteran leadership to the defense.

Of the many experienced players on the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Sean Brackett leads the way as he enters the 2021 season as one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the league. Brackett is entering his third season with the Pirates and is a former NAL MVP. This experience and knowledge of the indoor game will certainly help with the lack of experience in the secondary.

“We have a lot of talent in general, even on the offensive side of the ball,” said Kizer. “Training camp has been very competitive. I know we have some good receivers, good offensive linemen, and obviously, Sean (Brackett) is an experienced quarterback in the indoor game, and he has been getting the ball out quick. It’s nice to see the guys compete.” These young defensive backs will be in the perfect situation to learn and grow right away as they line up alongside other defensive players that have plenty of knowledge to pass down, and line up against the experienced offensive talents in practice like Brackett and the talented receivers.

Reigning NAL Rookie of the Year wide receiver Thomas Owens has returned to the Pirates after his dazzling 2019 season and he will look to continue his success and be a vital part of an extremely talented receiving core. Receivers Darren Carrington II, Laquvionte Gonzalez, R.J. Shelton, and Bryan Miller bring some impressive pass-catching and big-play abilities to the Pirates’ offense and will be joined by former NFL standout receivers Martavis Bryant and Terrance Williams, two new additions to the Pirates roster. This group, alongside running backs Justin Stockton and Nick Gibson, who bring versatility to the Pirates’ backfield, will be sure to compete with the defense during training camp and practice to help the team get better each and every day, and translate the hard work in practice to wins on game day.

The Pirates’ 16 game regular season begins with a trip to Louisville on April 24th to take on the Xtreme at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, KY. This season is long-awaited coming off a long break from Pirates football. Fans will be allowed to attend the home matchups at Phoenix Field and see the Pirates return to action live and in person. Having the fans screaming and cheering on the Pirates is what makes the organization, and indoor football in general, so special. The first home game for the Pirates will be against the Spokane Shock on Saturday, May 22nd and it will be the first of a three-game home stretch.

“Hopefully we can get a good amount of fans at these games,” said Kizer. “So the players can get to enjoy the real arena experience. That’s the goal.”

The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games on Phoenix Field at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email contact@masspiratesfootball.com or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single-game tickets will be available soon at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard