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Stars Still Aligning for Indoor Football Season

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There is a quarterback, there is a schedule, there is a marketing plan.

With 7 1/2 weeks to go before the New Mexico Stars debut on Feb. 26 at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, the Indoor Football League franchise is racing against the clock to be ready.

And who knows? Terrell Owens might even breeze through town in Week 2.

The expansion Stars, introduced in October, will play the Colorado Ice on Sunday, Feb. 26, at 3:05 p.m., the first of 14 games in 2012.

While the roster is almost sure to include at least a couple of former Lobos – such as defensive back DeAndre Wright and running back DonTrell Moore – recently the Stars locked up their quarterback.

He is Arkelon Hall, a former collegian at Washington State and Memphis. He played with the IFL’s Odessa franchise last season and appeared in 11 games as a rookie for coach Chris Williams.

Williams is now New Mexico’s head coach.

“Offensively, I feel pretty good about where we are, especially having our quarterback in place,” Williams said. “He was one of the better rookies in our league. It was his first pro experience, but he’s a really smart kid, an athletic kid.”

Moore and former New Mexico State Aggie Seth Smith look like they’ll both be heavily featured in the offense, Williams said. Smith and Wright both have some NFL experience.

The most interesting defensive name signed by the Stars is Erasmus James.

James, who played at Wisconsin, is a former first-round NFL draft pick. Minnesota took him No. 18 overall in 2005.

“He has all the tools to be the most dominant defensive lineman in the IFL,” Williams said.

James will only be paid $1 for the entire season, Clark said. James wants the team to contribute the rest to a local, yet-to-be-determined charity, Clark said.

As for Owens, the IFL’s Allen Wranglers are attempting to sign the combustible wide receiver; Allen will be in Rio Rancho for the team’s second game, on Sunday, March 11.

TICKET SALES/MARKETING: Clark said the team has sold about 50 season tickets so far, but he expects that number to rise dramatically in the weeks leading up to the opener.

The team is planning to advertise in newspapers, radio and television, plus have a presence online. In addition, there will be several billboards around the metro area, Clark said.

“Our plan,” he said, “is that everywhere you turn, you’re going to see the Stars.”

TRAINING CAMP: While the team is trying to finalize a location, it will begin on Feb. 12, Williams said. About 40 players will be invited, and that number must be shaved to 25 before the first game.

The game-day roster is 21 players, and there also is a four-man practice squad, Williams said.

FIELD: Each team must provide the playing surface in their arena, Clark said.

“We own these businesses; it’s something that we provide,” he said. “The league doesn’t provide anything there.”

TRYOUT: The Stars already have had a couple of tryouts, and have another one scheduled Jan. 14. What is unknown is the location. Clark is hoping for Rio Rancho High School or Blades Multiplex Arenas.

NOTES: Clark said the Stars’ franchise fee to enter the IFL was $100,000. … The Stars plan to honor the Cleveland High football team at the season opener.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal