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Plank returns home to Pittsburgh with winless Orlando Predators

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POWER GAMEDAY

vs. Orlando

7 p.m. Saturday, Consol Energy Center

TV/radio: ThisTV; TribLive Radio

Records: Power 1-4, Orlando 0-5

Notable: Orlando is the only winless team in the Arena Football League. ... The Power (1-4) would move into a tie for first place in the American Conference East if they beat Orlando and Philadelphia loses in Chicago. ... The Power acquired quarterback Derek Cassidy, who played for the team last year and completed 48 of 79 passes for 566 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. ... Backup quarterback Shane Austin is on injured reserve with a broken left (non-throwing) hand. ... DB/WR Christian Wise has an injured ankle and might not play.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, May 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

The Power's game Saturday at Consol Energy Center could have been an interesting reunion for three members of the visiting Orlando Predators.

But the Predators ruined the party by starting the season 0-5. That led to the firing of offensive coordinator Chris Siegfried, who also was let go as head coach of the Power during the 2012 season. Meanwhile, quarterback Kyle Rowley, formerly of the Power, was arrested on a DUI charge and lost his starting job, although he remains on the Predators' roster.

But coach Doug Plank, a Norwin High School graduate, is coming home, eager to renew acquaintances with family and friends in Western Pennsylvania.

“It's always great to come back to Pittsburgh, the city I really grew up in,” Plank said.

Plank has lived a nomadic life in football since graduating from Norwin. He went to three Rose Bowls with Ohio State before joining the Chicago Bears where defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan famously named the 46 defense after safety Plank's jersey number.

After an eight-year NFL playing career, he has coached indoor football in Arizona, Georgia, Philadelphia and Orlando. He led Philadelphia to the 2012 Arena Bowl, his second appearance in the title game. But he resigned at the end of his only season, citing a grueling workload.

Nonetheless, he quickly changed his mind and accepted the job in Orlando.

“I guess I'm a one-year expert,” he said.

He said coaching the Predators has been more difficult than he expected.

“When you go to a new place and you bring all these different people in, it takes a while to mesh,” he said.

With the offense struggling, Siegfried was fired after three games. “If you are not scoring points, you are probably losing,” Plank said. “It was not anything personal.”

But the team's scoring average fell from 46.6 points with Siegfried to 38.5 without him in the past two games.

Plank hopes that will change after he traded with the San Jose Sharks for 42-year-old quarterback Aaron Garcia, an indoor football legend with 56,186 passing yards and 1,220 touchdown passes to his credit. Garcia's first game for Orlando will be against the Power.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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