The Oklahoma Flying Aces didn’t record an on-field win during their inaugural 2-10 season in Enid.
The front office, however, is a different story.
“I think we won big off the field,” Flying Aces head coach and team president Richard Davis said. “I think there’s room for improvement. But I do think we had a winning season off the field. We put a product out there that our community can be proud of and they embraced us. Most importantly, it lets a ton of little kids come out and have a great time, they can dream big and they can come up and meet our players.
“I think those things are big victories.”
The Flying Aces first season of existence didn’t bring forth as many wins as Davis, the franchise or its fanbase had hoped. Both of their wins came by way of forfeit against the now-defunct Texas Revolution franchise. But the season still brought forth a committed community, engaged local partners and optimism for the franchise's second year.
Despite the introductory season’s record, Davis said he knows the Flying Aces "are on the right track."
“We know it,” he said. “The teams in our league (Champions Indoor Football) know it. We have brought in the right players. It took us half a season or so to get that mix together. But we have fantastic team chemistry.”
The Flying Aces made transactions throughout the year. The team saw multiple changes at several positions, including quarterback. At the start of the year, Rayjohn Ramsey watched the offense from the sidelines. By midseason, he was leading it on the field.
“Getting him into the lineup was pretty important,” Davis said. “He’s just a decision-maker. It’s not all of it. We had some guys like Braylon Hyder anchor our offensive line.”
The Flying Aces also added Torrance Carr to the receiving corps, along with fellow Oklahoma State University alum Josh Stewart and Texas A&M product Laquvionte Gonzalez.
“That group of guys can play against every team at this level,” Davis said.
As a head coach and team president, Davis feels the pressure in two arenas: the football field and the front office. The latter, however, tips the scales because Davis has to protect “the business side to have the football side.”
“That’s my first priority,” he said. That's my first priority to my partner (Craig Tirey), it's my first priority to our community and the sponsors that invest with us. You’ve got to do a good job — you have to pay your bills on time, you have to show up on time … You’ve got to work your tail off for your corporate sponsors to make sure they’re happy.”
Davis laid out three goals for the front office this season. The first of which was to retain 100 percent of the Flying Aces corporate sponsors.
“Because that means you’re adhering to the baseline of trying to serve them well first,” he said.
While he and the front office will shoot for 100 percent retention, the end result will likely be short as some businesses will change their marketing budget or their marketing plan from year to year.
The second goal is to assess the front office’s performance, specifically, find the areas in which they missed the mark, much like how Davis and his players assess their game film.
“We’re in Monday morning video session right now,” Davis said of the front office. “We’re assessing ourselves and we’re trying to get better.”
The third goal is simply putting what they learned into action. An example Davis gave was improving the pregame introductions. Davis observed the pregame intros of his opponents whenever Oklahoma played on the road.
“We’re getting better (with our introductions),” he said. “But I want it cooler for our kids. I want their eyes to light up. I want to give people a reason to show up on time.”
Another example Davis gave was working to lower ticket prices.
“I think we proved ourselves to the market as a viable, credible product,” he said.
A product Davis and the Flying Aces want to make available to all.
“We want to make this affordable and within reach of every family in the Enid region,” Davis said. “I don’t want price to be any sort of barrier.”
Flying Aces roster
Davis said teams in the Champions Indoor Football league will have first rights on their players to re-sign up until Oct. 1. After that, players are free to sign with another team in the league.
Davis intends to give his players plenty of time to make that decision for themselves.
“I want this to be a great fit,” he said. “I want that to come naturally … I anticipate upwards of 95 percent of our guys are coming back. The roster that we ended the year with, they’re pretty special guys.”
Some players are even staying in town. Davis said players like defensive end Tralund Webber and Hyder were wanting to reside in town. Linebacker Jayden Dobbs was even hired as Waller Middle School’s physical education teacher.