After swinging and missing on their initial plans for the 2016 pro indoor football season, the Rio Rancho-based New Mexico Stars have announced they have signed a new head coach and have changed their league affiliation.
Team owner Tracy Duran said the Stars have signed indoor football veteran Adrian Perez, 30, to guide the team in X-League play next year.
This news comes on the heels of the team’s announcement in mid-April that West Mesa alum Farasi Norman would guide the team in the newly formed North American Indoor Football league next season.
But the Stars, who played from 2012-14 before sitting out 2015 to reorganize, quickly parted way with Norman in a public tiff. Shortly thereafter, the Stars opted to leave the NAIF.
“The NAIF does not offer financial stability,” Duran said. “The people are great, but in the end, it was a business decision.
“The X-League (based in the South) provides the Stars with a lot of great teams and stiff competition.”
Duran said he’s particularly excited to land Perez, who has 11 years of pro playing experience, mostly at receiver. Included was this season with the first-year Duke City Gladiators of the Champions Indoor Football league, where he had three TD receptions before leaving the team in late May.
Despite the fact Perez has no indoor coaching experience, Duran said he thinks he’s the right man to lead the re-build of the Stars from scratch.
“The one word I’ll say is loyalty,” Duran said. “It’s very important to trust the people you’re with and hire. … He’s been like a son to me. This is something he’s wanted to pursue for 11 years. All he thinks about is championships.
“Also, he’s a smart kid and when he tells a player to do something, he’ll be physically fit to show them how it’s done instead of yelling and screaming. He’s played at the pro football level under a lot of coaches for a long time and he’s taken a bit from all of them, even from the bad ones how not to end like that.”
Perez said he’s had his eyes on a coaching job for a long time.
“Honestly, I always wanted to be a coach,” he said. “And playing in arena ball as long as I have, it’s something I think I can transition to pretty easily.”
Among the coaches he most admired was ex-Stars head coach Chris Williams (2012-13) while the two were in Odessa, Texas. At the top of the list was former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints quarterback John Fourcade.
“We were together in Fairbanks, Alaska,” Perez said. “He brought the best out of me. He was very good with X’s and O’s and relating to players.”
If all goes as planned, the Stars will open X-League play in March with home games at the Santa Ana Star Center.
NOTE: Duran also announced the team has a new website at NMStarsif.com.