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Playoffs? Power remain in hunt for postseason

| Friday, July 5, 2013, 10:47 p.m.
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Power coach Derek Stingley prepares to throw the ball to his players during practice Wednesday, June 27, 2012, in the South Side.

Plagued by instability at quarterback and on the coaching staff, the Power (3-11) hope to climb back into the playoff chase Saturday when they visit the Gladiators in Cleveland.

Playoffs? It's possible.

Amazingly, the Power, which is in the midst of a five-game losing streak, have not been eliminated. They trail the Orlando Predators (5-9) for the final wild-card berth from the American Conference but may need to win each of their remaining four games.

The team has struggled — not just this year but through the past two seasons after finishing 9-9 in 2011 and missing the playoffs. The Power have lost 24 of their past 32 games.

“The problem is chemistry, in my opinion,” coach Derek Stingley said after the 59-54 loss to the New Orleans VooDoo last Saturday. “If we had the same set of players and the same set of coaches in place since Day 1, I am pretty sure we would be talking playoffs.”

Steven Sheffield, the Power's 12th quarterback in three years and the fourth this season, will start at quarterback against Cleveland. He has emerged as the team's best, but he missed all but six games due to a family issue in Texas. He has completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 1,602 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Jordan Jefferson, the starter at the outset of the season, had trouble adjusting to the indoor game before going on the injured reserve list. In six games, he had a 55.1 completion percentage for 1,189 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Compounding the problem have been two major coaching changes.

The Power fired its first head coach (Chris Siegfried) last year and replaced him with Stingley.

This season, offensive coordinator Mike Tomczak, a former NFL quarterback who spent seven seasons with the Steelers, was let go after Stingley brought in current play-caller Jon Lyles. The change was made after the Power scored 14 points April 14 in a loss to the Chicago Rush.

Power owner Matt Shaner, who described Tomczak as a “personal friend and neighbor,” said he supported the decision.

“I gave coach Stingley the latitude to do what he wants,” he said. “I never force him to make a hire or make a fire. Coach came to me and recommended that Mr. Lyles be hired and replace Mr. Tomczak because (Lyles) has been around the league longer.”

The Power are last in the 14-team league in scoring (39.8 points per game) and 11th in total offense (262.7 yards). But they have scored 53 or more points four times under Lyles after averaging 27.3 in three games with Tomczak.

Shaner promises to continue evaluating all aspects of the organization in the offseason.

“If that means traveling the country to recruit players, (co-owner) Lynn Swann and I will do that,” he 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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