El Paso Pirates tryouts: Saturday, Sept. 7 at Chapin.

 

The high school football season gets underway this weekend, the Miners open things up a week later and the NFL regular season takes off from there, culminating in the Super Bowl in early February.

Believe it or not, after all that football, many diehard fans are still clamoring for more.

El Paso football fanatics will not only get their wish, they’ll have another team to root for – or against.

The El Paso Pirates have joined the ranks of the ever-increasing number of semi-pro football teams in the area and they are looking for players.

“We’re having a tryout/combine for the football players and dance audition for our dance team,” said Gabriel Jimenez, team owner, president and general manager.

The tryouts for the players and the dancers will be held at Chapin High School on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 3 p.m.

This brings the number of local semi-pro football teams to four.

The Pirates will join the El Paso Raiders and the Sun City Reapers as members of the New Mexico Premier Football League, which opens its season in late February 2014.

The El Paso Seminoles play in the Minor Professional Football League.

“The players can be anywhere from 18 years of age to their 50s if they feel active and strong enough,” Jimenez said. “Anyone who is right out of high school or college can participate. There are even guys on teams that once played in the NFL.

“We have to have a minimum of 35 players, but I would love to fill about 50 spots. That way you have some flexibility with guys who have day jobs or are in the military.”

Jimenez is no stranger to amateur football; he also serves as president of the El Paso Pirates youth football program.

“We are the only youth organization that has a semi-pro team,” he said. “Our youth program has kids ranging from ages 5 to 11, but then I wanted to expand my market to the semi-pro level while keeping the Pirates’ tradition of helping out in the community intact.”

In fact, Jimenez is wasting no time getting his football and dance candidates in the giving mood.

“There is no charge to try out for the teams,” he said. “All that’s required from football players and dancers is five nonperishable items that will be donated to the Salvation Army.

“I want everyone to get used to the idea of giving back to the community from day one.”

Though the idea is to find football players with talent, it’s not the only thing the Pirates are looking for.

“We’re looking for guys who can play but really all a player has to have is the passion, the love and the drive for the game,” Jimenez said.

“They don’t even have to have 100 percent of the skill; they’ve just got to want to play.”

Though the tryouts are still over a week away, the response has been positive.

“We’ve got more than 20 guys who have committed so far and that’s more than I thought we’d have before the tryout date,” Jimenez said. “The word is spreading and I really think we’re going to have a great turnout.

“I’ve attended a few semi-pro games here and while the competition is great, the fan base isn’t big enough. I want to change that by providing El Pasoans with a dance team made up of current and former UTEP Gold Diggers and a team that goes out into the community to get out the word.”

Information about the team can be found on Facebook at El Paso Pirates Semi-Pro Football.

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