AFL gridiron team moves into Castle Rock

Posted 1/26/10

Big league football returns to Castle Rock. The 40-plus-team Alliance Football League expands into the Douglas County community this year with the …

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AFL gridiron team moves into Castle Rock


Big league football returns to Castle Rock.

The 40-plus-team Alliance Football League expands into the Douglas County community this year with the newly formed Rocky Mountain Renegades, which makes a home at Douglas County Schools Stadium for its inaugural season May-August 2010.

Owned by three families, the Renegades were organized by the Byrd family of Castle Rock, the Schwab family of Castle Rock and the Mares family of Aurora, aided by a growing number of family and friends who volunteer their time.

The Renegades look to operate as a family business and provide entertainment value to the community through the summer months, co-owner John Byrd said.

“From our front office to sales to marketing, there won’t be any difference between NFL teams and us except for the budget,” Byrd said. “We don’t want to get too big. We want to keep it in Castle Rock.

Byrd, who brings years of professional minor league and arena football experience to the table before moving to Castle Rock four years ago, and co-owner Kevin Schwab, who also played minor league ball in California prior to moving to the Rock in 2000, collaborated on the idea of starting a league team in their community of choice.

In trying to keep the team rooted within the community, the Renegades’ staff is hoping to build its roster of 30 players starting with Castle Rock-based athletes, and seeking others outside the community where needed.

“We would love to get 30 players from Castle Rock, but we know we need to win and become a championship [contending] team or people won’t come to see us,” Schwab said. “If not, we’ll have to look for players outside the community.

Teams like the Renegades allow players who remained in the area after playing high school football or even college but didn’t have the opportunity to go further in their careers. Byrd said, with his connections to other professional and minor leagues, he could help players realize such opportunities with hard work and determination on the Renegades roster.

The Renegades’ season will include 8-10 regular schedule games, about half of which will be at home in Castle Rock. The first practice is March 1, and the inaugural game is the end of May. June 6 is the official opening of the AFL season.

Byrd describes the Renegades as a travel team with away games against other AFL opponents in the league’s American Alliance Conference. Road opponents for the new Castle Rock team include those in Nebraska, Wyoming and non-league action against a team in New Mexico.

The AFL will have only one other team located in Colorado, being the Colorado Force, Byrd said.

Tryouts for the Renegades are 11 a.m. Feb. 20 at Matney Park in Castle Rock. Player-hopefuls must be 18-years or older, and the organization says it won’t pool from the community’s high school football teams. Persons attending tryouts need to show up 30 minutes early for registration. Players do not have to have a Castle Rock residence.

Keeping their own football-active years alive, spectators of the Renegades could expect Schwab to suit up as a linebacker, while Byrd may be seen in the defensive secondary.

In addition to players, the organization is reaching out to the community for not only help in lieu of sponsorship but also hands-on assistance.

“We can’t afford to do this alone,” Schwab, who had two sons graduate from Douglas County High School football, said. “Castle Rock has embraced this sport. I have ran into athletes that my sons have played with and didn't make it to the collegiate level who miss the comradeship of the gridiron.”

Also, owners are also interviewing people interested in filling the team’s open positions on the coaching staff, team physicians and trainers.

Bryd was on the roster of the Mile High Panthers, the last semi-professional football team to make a home at Douglas County Schools Stadium, summer of 2005. The Panthers only saw one season in the Colorado Football Conference due to a meltdown between the team’s ownership and coaching staff.

The difference between the Rocky Mountain Renegades and the Mile High Panthers should be more than noticeable, Byrd said.

“The thing with the Panthers was, they didn’t want to be in Castle Rock,” he said. “We live in this community, and we want to stay a part of it.”

“We love Castle Rock,” Schwab said. “The atmosphere here is right for this kind of a team.”

For more information, visit the organization’s Web site at

The team can also be reached by calling 303-547-0036 or by e-mailing

The Renegades organization is playing host to a meet and greet 1:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at Scoreboard Pizzeria in Castle Rock.


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