A mere five games into their existence, the Chicago Mustangs already have a couple of wins and a roster full of promising players making their mark in the semi-pro MidStates Football League. While much credit belongs to the Mustangs’ burgeoning collection of players, coaches and staff, it’s been Founder and Majority Owner Eddie Chapp and his vision of successful players on and off the field that’s served as the catalyst for the Mustangs.
Chapp, a Riverside resident, has coached in the Berwyn Mustang youth football program (ages 6-14) for the last six years. He also served as team chaplain for the Slaughter, another semipro team in the CIFL.
“Ministry and football are two of the things that I love the most,” Chapp said. “My experiences coaching youth football and my involvement with the Slaughter got my wheels spinning. I wanted to have a local semi-pro team where we could develop talent and build integrity in young men.”
The early returns have been encouraging for Chapps’ charges in the MSFL. Coached by Malcolm Price, the Mustangs (2-3) rolled to a 27-6 victory over the Kilborn City Hawks in their season opener. The Mustangs then christened their home field at Morton High School in style with a convincing 38-8 victory over the Indiana Steelers.
“We’re doing pretty well, especially for a first-year team,” Mustangs middle linebacker James Biesiada said. “We have played well against some of the top teams in the league. Our coaches are cool, and the players are getting to know each other better.”
Quarterback Jose Reyna (8 touchdowns, 518 yards passing), wideout Robert Pope and offensive lineman Siegfried Roe trigger an offense averaging 25 points per game. Biesiada (23 tackles, 4 sacks), Miguel Velez (3 sacks), and Reggie Truss anchor the Mustangs’ defense. Mike “Spider” Leaks is a versatile athlete who contributes on both sides of the ball.
“These guys are playing football for different reasons,” Chapp said. “Some guys never played but want to try it, others want to keep playing after high school or college ball, and some players view it as an opportunity for scouts to see them. They are hoping for a shot at arena football, some level of professional football, NFL Europe, or getting in an NFL camp.”
Chapp hopes the common denominator among his players’ assorted aspirations is a commitment to their team and community,
“Part of our plan is encouraging our players to give back to the community,” he said. “Anyone with some talent can play football, but we want our players to help by coaching kids, advising high school athletes and just helping others in their communities.”
Chapp’s enthusiasm has clearly energized his players.
“Eddie has done a great job picking up players,” Mustangs cornerback/wide receiver Alex Torres said. “He’s full of life and a big part of our team. We’re young, we’re fast and a pretty good team.”
A Morton alumnus, Chapp grew up in the Berwyn-Cicero area. In high school, Chapp was on the wrestling team but always maintained a passion for football.
Four years ago, Chapp, his wife, Gina, and their three children, Madeline (14), Matthew (12) and Jordan (7), moved to Riverside. Chapp does estimating for a printing company and Gina is a school nurse at Central and Hauser. Both of Chapps’ sons play youth football.
“Riverside is a perfect community for us,” Chapp said. “We moved here because of the excellent schools and to ensure a good education for our kids. It’s such a beautiful, well-maintained community. The whole spirit of Riverside is special.”
When he’s not prowling the sidelines at Mustangs games or teaching the Bible as a men’s minister at Emmanuel Bible Church in Berwyn, Chapp enjoys simple pleasures like “movie night” or barbecues with his family.
This Saturday, the host Mustangs welcomes the Chicago Thunder to Hoffman Stadium at Morton West for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Thunder (5-0 in MidStates Football League) has won 49 consecutive games and two AA semi-pro national titles over the last three years. In league action this year, the Thunder is averaging 44 points per game while allowing a scant six points per game. Despite these intimidating stats, Chapp and the Mustangs are excited about clashing with the league’s best.
“It’s reportedly the Thunder’s last year together,” Chapp said. “They are one of the best teams in the nation. We’ll be the home team though and playing for our community.
“It will be a great night for football fans, friends or families to come out for a fun time and watch good football at very reasonable prices.”
General tickets are $8, $4 for senior citizens and active military (with ID), and children (10 and under) are free. For more information about the Mustangs, who are looking for players, coaches and personnel support, visit www.chicagomustangfootball.com.
“I’ve talked with other coaches in our league and they think we’re doing a great job,” Chapp said. “We want to do things the right way on and off the field.”