RIO RANCHO – For the second consecutive home game, the New Mexico Stars are facing a Lone Star Football League powerhouse coming off a record-setting scoring performance.
Tonight, the Stars (4-5) meet the San Angelo Bandits (6-3), who set an LSFL scoring mark in a 107-74 victory over West Texas on Monday behind 12 TD passes by Luke Collis.
Two weeks earlier, the Stars faced the Rio Grande Sol, which had scored 92 points a week earlier. The Sol followed up with a 78-38 win at New Mexico.
“They have a cutthroat offense,” New Mexico coach Dominic Bramante said Wednesday of the Bandits. “They go for the gusto. There’s no such thing as a break. With them, it’s pedal to the metal and go.
“The only way you contend with that is you have to have offense. Keep their offense off the field as much as you can.”
On April 12 in San Angelo, Texas, the Bandits defeated New Mexico, 56-34.
The Stars, meanwhile, are coming off a 44-33 loss May 24 in Amarillo, which dropped them to fourth in the five-team league and no longer in control of their playoff destiny.
“We have to play playoff football; we really do,” Bramante said. “We’re going to try to make life a little uncomfortable for (Collis), which teams have tried to do the past three games and he’s still kind of chewed them up.”
Collis has 39 TD passes in the Bandits’ past four outings.
New Mexico, meanwhile, will have to do so without recently signed quarterback Brian Harris, a native of Mississippi and a veteran of various indoor leagues. He joined the Stars the middle of last week and started against Amarillo. He even threw a touchdown pass on his first play from scrimmage.
But from there, Bramante said, it was all downhill – on the field (five interceptions) and physically.
After the game, Bramante said Harris appeared disoriented and had trouble responding to questions from medical personnel. Harris then was transported to an Amarillo hospital where, Bramante said, tests revealed Harris had a chemical imbalance in his brain, and that doctors advised him to retire.
“He’s a great kid,” Bramante said of Harris, who flew home Wednesday. “After the first play (TD), he went to heck. It’s a bitter pill to lose a good young man, never mind in the game, but for it to end his career. I guess not too many people leave with the parade and the confetti coming down.”
Thus, rookie QB Andrew McGlory, the Stars’ starter the first eight games, will be back in the lineup tonight despite Bramante having his “Batphone on 24-hour alert” in hopes of landing a veteran quarterback.
“He knows he’s struggled in the past,” Bramante said of McGlory. “We broke down the first game against San Angelo, and it brought back nightmares. Four times we had the ball inside the 10 and didn’t score a point. We’ll get to see how much he’s improved.”
TOUGH ROAD: The Bandits are playing the Stars on four days’ rest. It’s the only time in the league this season a team will be asked to play on the road on such a short week.
“That’s the way it works sometimes,” said San Angelo coach Joe Brannen. “It’s not ideal, but we had our guys in here early (Tuesday). They didn’t get a day off. We’ve had to shrink our week.”
The Bandits at least have had the luxury of traveling the 500-plus miles by bus to the metro area the day before the game and spending the night.
“Our owner feels it’s important to get a good night’s rest the day before,” Brannen said. “We don’t need a lot of rooms because we only bring 18 players.”
Conversely, the Stars have traveled the day of each of their five road games and played hours after stepping off the bus. They are 2-3 in those games, including back-to-back victories at Amarillo and West Texas (Odessa) earlier this month.