Good luck, Coach.
That’s about all that seemed appropriate to say to New Mexico Stars head coach Dominic Bramante in his small office at Santa Ana Star Center Monday afternoon.
He’ll need it, it seems.
“This is a game of challenges,” Bramante said, and he didn’t mean the indoor football game his Stars engages in starting Friday evening.
• The team lost what had been its new ownership when a local trio of partners decided to turn ownership of the team back to the Lone Star Football League, of which the Stars are one of five teams this season. Orthrus Promotions, led here by J.R. Rodriguez, will oversee the operational side of the Stars.
• The Star Center, home for Stars home games, is without a general manager — Gunnar Fox will soon be managing the under-construction PPL Center in Allentown, Pa., after nearly five years with the Star Center.
• Although he’s got a competent quarterback, Andrew McGlory (Prairie View A&M), with the opener barely four days away, he wasn’t sure who the offensive linemen up front blocking for McGlory would be. Some candidates had just been cut by Arena Football League teams and were expected to see if they could find a LSFL team, like the Stars, to sign with. Hence, Bramante’s uncertainty at this key position.
• Bramante was still scrambling to find enough equipment for his 23 players — 18 dress for the games — before final cuts were made Monday afternoon.
• As if that isn’t enough, the two-time LSFL champion Amarillo Venom provide the opposition.
At least the Stars got a game of sorts under their belts, beating the Metro Stars 50-20 Sunday afternoon in an exhibition game played in the Star Center, where a basketball court was quickly assembled for the state basketball tournament not long after the final fans had filed out.
“I was not happy with our performance,” Bramante said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. There’s a new system, a new coach, new ownerships… a lot of adjustments.”
If McGlory can get the required three seconds of pass protection, Bramante knows he has some great targets to throw to: former University of Iowa and Houston standout James Cleveland, a former Conference USA Newcomer of the Year a few seasons ago; Stars returnee Dexter Manley, former UNM Lobo and Baltimore Raven Marcus Smith and former U Cal-Davis and Laredo Rattlesnake wideout Jerome McGee.
“We need the Stars to align; no pun intended,” Bramante said.
Indeed, the Venom aren’t the team you want to open with if you’ve got so many question marks.
The Venom won the last two Lone Star Football League championships; they were 3-0 vs. the Stars last season, winning 62-34 (on March 23) and 88-72 (June 22) in games at Amarillo Civic Center and 57-54 (June 8) at the Star Center.
The Stars, who were 2-12 in their only season in the Indoor Football League in 2012, finished last season in their LSFL debut with a 6-7 mark after a 61-56 loss at Laredo in a semifinal game.
After Friday’s game, the Stars and Bramante have 14 days to get ready for their second game, also at the Star Center, when the West Texas Wildcatters visit March 29.
Seeing Stars: Two former area prep players are on the roster: former Oklahoma University’s football player Jesse Paulsen and Jason Serda, who played at Eastern New Mexico. Defensive backs, they played at Manzano High.
… All ticket proceeds went to the Carrie Tingley Foundation; Rodriguez said the team will be a partner with that foundation and Wounded Warriors.
… The first 200 fans at the ticket window can get tickets for just $5 Friday. Single and season tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling 891-7318.
… The Stars have some new players this season, including former Manzano High School and Oklahoma University player Jesse Paulsen. They also brought back some familiar faces to the team, such as Seth Smith and former Lobos WR Roland Bruno.