ARLINGTON, Texas — BattleHawks coach Jonathan Hayes was a tight ends/special teams coach on Bob Stoops’ first teams at the University of Oklahoma, from 1999-2002.
But their connection goes back much longer. Hayes and BattleHawks offensive coordinator Chuck Long played for the Iowa Hawkeyes in 1982, when Stoops was an assistant coach under Hayden Fry — who died recently.
“Bob and I have been dear friends since I was 18-years old and he was 21,” said Hayes, who’s now 57. “He lived in Youngstown (Ohio) and I lived in Pittsburgh, and we used to drive back and forth to Iowa City.
“Bob gave me my first coaching job. I have the utmost respect for Bob Stoops and what he has done. I was fortunate enough to be a small part of his staff when we won the national championship (at OU in 2000).”
As it relates to the BattleHawks’ 15-9 XFL victory Sunday over Stoops’ Dallas Renegades, Hayes says that long relationship gave him some insight into how Stoops might approach the game.
“I felt like he was gonna make this a defensive struggle, or try to,” Hayes said. “And we were up to the challenge today.”
The BattleHawks were 9 1/2 -point underdogs against the Renegades.
They also originally were picked to finish last in the XFL this season.
“We kind of heard that floating around late in the week,” center Brian Folkerts said. “We were all kind of shocked at where all that came from. . . . We felt like that was kind of a slap in the face to us. You know, who are these guys telling us we’re gonna finish last? So we tried to ignore all that and we’re gonna show ‘em our brand of football.”
Folkerts is a Hazelwood Central High grad who played two games for the Rams in 2015, their last year in St. Louis before the franchise returned to Los Angeles.
Making the calls
The XFL officiating crews are comprised of college officials, many of whom also worked in the ill-fated Alliance of American Football last year.
Heading Sunday’s crew was James Carter of the Southeastern Conference, who worked the SEC title game this past season between Louisiana State and Georgia.
Each XFL game-day crew also features at least one female official. Amanda Sauer-Cook, who has Big 10 and Conference USA experience, was the back judge Sunday for the BattleHawks-Renegades contest.
The crew directed a lot of flags at the BattleHawks, who were penalized nine times for 78 yards compared to three times for 19 yards for the Renegades.
The BattleHawks play in the Eastern Division of the XFL, and three of the four teams in the East won their openers this weekend.
So after Week 1, St. Louis is tied for first in the division with the DC Defenders and New York Guardians.
The Tampa Bay Vipers are 0-1.
• BattleHawks defensive end Will Clarke, who registered seven sacks in 53 NFL games with Cincinnati and Tampa Bay, did not play because of a calf injury.
• Tight end Cole Hunt was carted off the field with his left leg in an air cast. He suffered the injury while blocking a Dallas player along the St. Louis sideline in the third quarter.
• According to press box stats, cornerback Darius Hillary led the BattleHawks with nine tackles.