A pair of former Reinhardt teammates are now rivals as Javier Dyer and Taylor Hawkins complete their first seasons in Champions Indoor Football.
Both players joined CIF -- an eight-team league with teams in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico -- in February. Dyer signed with the Salina Liberty in Kansas, while Hawkins caught on with the Omaha Beef in Nebraska.
“Playing in this professional football league will definitely make you realize your worth,” Dyer said in a Reinhardt release. “This league and just like many others, is strictly about business. From the owners, to coaches and to players, this game/business is very cutthroat, and everyone expects your best -- which is understandable.”
For the most part, both players have adjusted well since appearing primarily as special teamers early in the season.
From his defensive end position, Dyer has 34 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Hawkins ranks in the top five of CIF with five interceptions to go with 51 tackles at cornerback, though his position has required greater adjustments to the indoor game.
“Playing professional football in the arena league is way different than playing it outdoors,” Hawkins said in the release. “Instead of the out-of-bounds, there is a wall, which I had to adjust to in this league -- especially at the corner position.”
Salina and Omaha have squared off three times this season, with Dyer’s Liberty taking all three meetings.
The last one game in a 44-42 win June 29, in the league semifinals. The win sent Dyer and his teammates onto the CIF championship game Saturday against the Duke City Gladiators.
Dyer said the fans in Salina have taken notice.
“I can honestly say that coming to Salina, Kansas, has been nothing but blessings on blessings,” he said. “The community loves us and treats us like the professionals we are, along with the coaches and sponsors.”
Still, both players said they see this season as a step on the larger journey toward the NFL.
Dyer, who was drafted into the now-defunct Alliance of American Football last October, said he would be open to joining another upstart league, like the XFL, while Hawkins has already been in talks with teams in the Canadian Football League.
“The offseason is going to be epic,” Hawkins said. “I will be getting ready for the next season or prayerfully at the highest level. I talked to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats a few weeks ago, and they said they probably want another season from me or free up some space for me for this season.”