In the days preceding the New Mexico Stars’ 2014 season opener at home March 14 against Amarillo, Stars coach Dominic Bramante said his Lone Star Football League team needed a lot of work. Mainly at quarterback.
As indicated by the team’s 63-21 loss, he was dead-on. Rookie indoor pro QB Andrew McGlory had a rough debut, throwing four interceptions and losing two fumbles. The Venom, meanwhile, flourished behind ex-Stars QB Brendan Crawford, who pitched six TD passes with one interception.
Tonight there’s more irony, as another ex-New Mexico QB, Kasey Peters, leads the West Texas Wildcatters (0-1) into the Santa Ana Star Center for Game 2 of the season. Peters was a midseason addition to last year’s Stars and wound up winning league co-offensive MVP honors. He signed with the Wildcatters in the offseason.
After the loss to Amarillo, Bramante and his staff used their bye week to scour the land for a QB with indoor experience. Bramante said McGlory, a Prairie View A&M alum, needs time to acclimate to the arena game.
“He’s got all the skills and the tools to be an outstanding quarterback,” Bramante said before Tuesday’s drills at Highland High. “He just needs some confidence. The best quarterbacks in the world trust what they see and then react. They trust their instincts.
“Otherwise, against Amarillo we had the protection and we had wide-open receivers. And I’ll give those guys a lot of credit. Although they were getting frustrated there was no finger-pointing. They understood that there was a rookie back there. So I was real happy with how they handled adversity.”
There wasn’t supposed to be this kind of adversity. In the offseason Bramante signed ex-New Mexico Lobo Donovan Porterie, a veteran of indoor ball, to compete for the job. But after getting cut by Pittsburgh of the Arena Football League earlier this month, Bramante said Porterie backed out on his promise to play for the Stars. Porterie was waived last week.
Stars defensive lineman/linebacker Roosevelt Falls, who was the team’s leading tackler last week (20 according to him, six according to the stat sheet), said the team remains positive despite the quarterbacks upheaval.
“Coach and everybody who was at the game, we saw some amazing things. The game wasn’t as it seemed on the scoreboard,” he said. “At this moment we’re just handling it professionally.”
This week, Bramante brought in QB Eric Herrera, a starter for the lower-level Independent Indoor Football Association’s North Texas Crunch, to compete for the QB spot. But things didn’t go well, especially at Tuesday’s wind-blown practice in which Herrera had trouble getting the direct snap from center and completing anything more than short routes. And Bramante said things got only worse during Wednesday’s drills indoors at the Star Center.
Herrera was cut Thursday.
So it appears it will be McGlory’s start again this week. Unless …
Bramante is also hoping he can lure veteran QB Ryan Porter, 32, who played at Missouri State and Washington, to join the club. Bramante said Porter, who lives in Southern California, is discussing the move with his wife.
And if Porter falls through? Coach said he’s also got a Plan C and D.
What has made the outdoor/indoor adjustment especially difficult for McGlory is that until Wednesday, the Stars hadn’t had any indoor practices.
“It’s important to work indoors because you play inside the walls,” Bramante said. “And when you play inside the walls it gives the quarterback and the receivers and the coverage depth perception. It’s the difference between night and day.
“Amarillo, when they came in, didn’t have a practice without walls.”
SPECIAL HELP: Brian Johnson, an All-MWC defensive end for the Lobos in 2000-01 who’s now an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department, was a special adviser at Tuesday’s drills.
Johnson, who played in two exhibition games for the NFL 49ers after leaving UNM and who also was a member of the AFL champion San Jose SaberCats in 2004, spent his lunch break dispensing tips to the linemen.
Those linemen remembered Johnson well from the March 9 game they played against the Metro Stars, a team of firefighters and police.
“He was No. 27,” one player blurted when introduced. “I think ’27’ is still imprinted on our quarterback’s chest.”
LINEMAN ADDED: Levi Horn, 27, a 6-foot-7, 315-pound offensive lineman who has spent time in NFL camps with the Vikings and Bears, has been added to the Stars roster.
Horn, a member of the Cheyenne Nation who lives in Spokane, Wash., was one of Bramante’s recruits over the bye week.
“He just called me up,” Horn said. “The Indian world is small.”
Bramante is a member of the Otoe Nation of Oklahoma.