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QB Runs for His Life

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Hall Issues Challenge To His Offensive Line

RIO RANCHO – New Mexico Stars coach Chris Williams and QB Arkelon Hall know all about lopsided Indoor Football League games.

Last year, while both were with the established West Texas franchise in Odessa during a 10-4 season, they guided the Roughnecks to a 92-6 win over the Arizona Adrenaline in what stands as the largest margin of victory in league history.

But then came last week’s 73-9 road loss by the Stars to the Allen Wranglers, which capped a 0-3 road swing. It sure made for a long, quiet bus ride home for the first-year team that’s 2-6.

Everett Raptors at New Mexico Stars, Santa Ana Star Center, 7:05 p.m.
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“I’ve never been whipped like that in my life,” said Hall, a University of Memphis alum. “Usually I’m on the giving side of that, and now I’m on the taking.”

The same goes for Williams, who during his eight-year tenure in Odessa won a league title and once led his team to 27 consecutive victories.

“Mentally, a loss like that screws you up, but the reality of indoor football is a 73-9 loss is not the same as if it was outdoor,” he said of the game played on a 50-yard field. “In indoor, things can spiral out of control pretty quickly.

“It doesn’t feel good, don’t get me wrong, but at the same time, from watching the film, it was just a heap of mistakes we were making. … The encouraging part is it’s fixable.”

In addition to yielding eight TDs to Allen’s offense, New Mexico was victimized once on special teams and once by an Allen defense that had seven sacks.

Said Hall: “After the game I was thinking, ‘Wow, were we playing that bad or was it just mistakes?’ When you looked at the film, offense and defense, you realized there were a lot of mistakes everyone was making.”

Hall said things were different in the opener at home against Colorado, when New Mexico won 43-36.

“That game, I felt comfortable, like I was eating lunch,” he said before drills this week on the practice field behind CNM’s Westside campus. “Same thing for the (first) Allen game, and then my center went down.”

That would be Kelvin Drake, a 6-foot-1, 305-pounder from North Texas, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the team’s second game.

Since then, Hall has been playing with his head on a swivel.

“I’m supposed to throw the ball; I’m not supposed to worry about getting tackled,” he said. “But it’s on everybody. … I’m challenging my O-line. They need to work. They’ve got to get better.”

Hall said the protection woes have been a headache.

“It messes with everything,” he said. “You want to step up in the pocket, but I know I can’t all the time because the center is getting pushed back, so I have to roll out and do other things.”

As a last resort, he takes off running. He had nine carries for 37 yards last week.

“That’s me saving my (backside), saving myself,” he said. “No, we don’t have too many designed quarterback runs, but I had to.”

Williams said his experience has allowed him to keep calm while preparing his team to face the Everett Raptors (2-7) tonight at the Santa Ana Star Center.

“Back in 2008, in Odessa, we had a 70-7 loss, and we bounced back well and still went to the playoffs,” he said of a team that started 3-7 and finished 7-7. “We can do this.”
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal