ST. GEORGE – The rain trickled down from the overcast sky on Saturday, but it didn’t keep down the excitement of the new-look Dixie Rebels, formerly known as the St. George Blitz.
The Rebels were getting measured for their uniforms in the parking lot of Walt Brooks Stadium, and the players looked ready to begin their quest to repeat as champions of the Rocky Mountain Football League.
Doug “Sarge” Cook, co-owner of the Rebels and director of operations, said with the previous owners moving away from St. George there was still a desire to keep the team together. He said this was the perfect opportunity to change the team name to the Dixie Rebels to ignite community interest.
“Most of us that are playing, probably 98 percent, played with the Blitz the last couple of years,” Cook said. “We just wanted to keep the team going. A lot of the guys were Dixie Rebels when the college was the Rebels.”
Cook said he knew the importance of bringing back the Rebels. He said he wanted to bring back the tradition of the Rebels because of how upset community members were when the Dixie State College changed from Rebels to Red Storm.
“We’re working hand-in-hand with the college,” Cook said. “We’re not trying to take away from the college. We actually would like to be like a developmental league for high school kids who don’t get a look. My son played with us last year with the Blitz. He got picked up by the college.”
Cook said he’s hoping the team will be able to play some out-of-league games after the season is over.
“We don’t know what to expect this season in our league, but we’re wanting to play the best,” he said. “We’re possibly getting a bowl game or something with the winner of another league.”
The three co-owners of the Rebels—Cook, Wayne Alofipo and Andy Stokes—are all players, as well. Cook and Alofipo play on defense, and Andy Stokes is on the offense.
One of the players the Rebels are looking to make an impact is former Southern Utah University running back Kyle Coop.
Rebel newcomer Kinley Lounsbury, a former teammate of Coop’s when they played at Snow Canyon High School, said how excited he is to be playing with Coop again.
“Once he gets his legs back under him it’ll be no problem,” Lounsbury said. “The other stuff will take care of itself because he’s Kyle.”
Lounsbury was referring to Coop’s speed and power as a running back. Coop averaged 236 yards per game in 2004 as Snow Canyon’s feature running back.
“A couple of years ago [Coop] was the MVP of the league,” Cook said. “With our back field we’re going to be a huge threat.”
The Rebels will have Coop at running back and former DSC running back Sione Tapuosi in the backfield as the ball carriers. Tapuosi was moved from fullback to running back toward the end of DSC’s season because of an injury to star running back Jesse Ence. Tapuosi finished the season with 369 rushing yards for the Red Storm.
Also joining the offense for the Rebels is former DSC wide receiver Skyler Ence. He snagged 569 receiving yards and four touchdowns for DSC in 2009.
The Dixie Rebels will play their first home game on March 26. This is also the first game of the season. There’s also a meet-the-team event at Iceburg on the corner of St. George Boulevard and 200 East. The event will be on Saturday, Feb. 26.