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Power's Sheffield gets passing grades

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POWER GAME DAY

at Jacksonville

7 p.m.

Veterans Memorial Arena

TV/radio: ThisTV/TribLive Radio

Records: Sharks (7-3); Power (3-6)

Notable: With eight of 14 teams qualifying for the Arena Football League playoffs, the Power are holding down the second wild-card berth in the American Conference after recovering from an 0-3 start to win three of their past six games. .... The Power play six of their final nine regular-season games on the road.

'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, June 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

In the span of 10 days, Power quarterback Steve Sheffield earned a degree from Texas Tech and led his team to its second victory in three games.

He was pleased with both accomplishments, but he admitted, “I'm not happy with the way I played (in the 55-44 victory last week against the Cleveland Gladiators).”

He stood tall and smiled, however, when he talked about becoming a college graduate. He took time off from Power practice two weeks ago to travel to Lubbock, Texas, and take his last final exam.

“It feels good,” he told reporters about his degree in communications. “Maybe I'll be like you all one day.”

For now, he'll need to be satisfied with possibly reversing the fortunes of the Power's Arena Football League franchise.

If any team needs stability at the game's most important position, it's the Power. In its 2 12-year existence, the team went through 11 mostly unsuccessful quarterbacks before Sheffield joined the team last month.

He spent the past two seasons as a backup in Spokane and San Antonio, but the Power signed him to a three-year contract last year. He chose to remain back home in Texas, however, to earn his degree and help care for his ill grandmother and father.

“It was one of the toughest decisions I made in my life,” he said of missing the Power's first six games.

But coach Derek Stingley was willing to wait for him.

Finally on May 11 — a few days after arriving in Pittsburgh — Sheffield led the Power to a 53-48 victory against the Philadelphia Soul, the first-place team in the American Conference East.

The Power are 2-1 with Sheffield and holding down the second wild-card playoff berth from the American Conference. He has thrown 15 touchdowns and is averaging 278 passing yards after former starter Jordan Jefferson threw for 19 scores and averaged only 198.2 in six games.

“With Sheffield on board, it makes us that much better,” Stingley said.

Sheffield, who has thrown seven interceptions, still is smoothing the wrinkles out of his game. His two interceptions against Cleveland helped put the Power into a 16-point hole.

“I didn't play well at all,” he said.

But he threw three touchdown passes in fewer than eight minutes of the fourth quarter to rally the Power to victory.

The road gets tougher Saturday at Jacksonville where the Power meet quarterback Bernard Morris and the Sharks, who lead the American Conference South with a 7-3 record.

“It's all about keeping your head down and working,” Sheffield said.

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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