Football in the South is special. Instead of winter, spring, summer and fall, gridiron fans think recruiting, spring practice, two-a-days and the regular season.
For those pining for more, look no further than the Carolina Scorpions of the Southeastern America Football League.
Made up of 45 or so former players from area high schools ranging from 18-32 years old, the Scorpions represent more than a typical semi-pro team. Defensive back Jose White said it best: "We are not student-athletes anymore, we are family-athletes."
The Scorpions are more fraternity than team, where players and coaches hold each other accountable for staying away from alcohol, drugs and other vices.
"We have a very strict set of rules," said owner-coach Bakari Rawlinson. "No drugs, no alcohol, no fighting and no cussing. Our players stick to the guidelines or they are gone. Football is about passion, and we are very passionate about how we act on and off of the field."
The Scorpions, 4-1, are coming off a 20-8 win over the Upstate Vikings. With half of the season complete, the goal is to win out in order to host a playoff game.
Like any new organization or business, the Scorpions have had their bumps in the road. Finding a home field was the top priority. After an attempt to negotiate an agreement with the Rock Hill school district to play at District Three Stadium fell through, the Scorpions' settled on Chester as their home turf.
Money has been the most difficult struggle for the young team. Players are required to pay a $50 fee for the chance to play and must provide their own equipment.
Rawlinson has solicited several sponsors for assistance with the funds -- the team's expenses are nearly $20,000 per season. Rock Hill Fitness and Dawn Johnson with State Farm Insurance provide services for reduced costs for team members.
The players have ties with college teams such as Appalachian State, Charleston Southern and Newberry and just are not quite ready to give up the game. Players hold on to hope that scouts will take notice, as several league members have moved to the Arena Football League and the Canadian Football League.
White, 27 and a 1999 Rock Hill graduate and former running back at Appalachian State, plays defensive back and feels like he as a couple more seasons in the league before he hangs up the cleats.
WANT TO GO
What: Carolina Scorpions vs. Carolina Blue Jays
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: 1330 J.A. Cochran Bypass, Chester
More information: carolinascorpions.com