Power's preparations fell short under former coach

Jerry DiPaola
| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 12:08 a.m.

The Arena Football League isn't shy about reporting the embarrassing record set last week by the Power when owner Matt Shaner fired coach Derek Stingley one game into the season.

“Stingley's release one game into the season is the fastest in-season firing of a head coach in professional football history,” the league-generated release stated while promoting the Power's game Saturday night at Consol Energy Center against the San Jose SaberCats.

A coach can't get fired any quicker — unless it's done at halftime of the first game. Stingley survived the first half of the 63-53 loss to the Cleveland Gladiators on March 15, but he was doomed by three factors and fired six days later:

• His 7-20 record since the middle of the 2012 season.

• The availability of Ron James, who was looking for a job at the same time the Power was looking for a coach.

• An ill-prepared team, according to Power wide receiver Aaron Lesue.

“I think it's what we needed as far as the preparation aspect,” Lesue said of James taking over as head coach. “Last week, with Cleveland, I think there were a couple of situations in the game where we could have been a little bit more prepared as a team, as a whole, our mindset.”

Lesue played for James with the Utah Blaze, and believes the coach can reverse the misfortunes of a franchise that has lost 16 of its past 20 games. Two years ago in Utah, James was AFL Coach of the Year, quarterback Tommy Grady MVP and the team finished 12-6.

“We had great chemistry, great teamwork,” James said. “Team beats talent every time.”

Lesue said James' passion for the game and detailed preparation will win over the players.

“Players see that, and they want to play for him,” he said. James has steep challenges ahead, starting with the SaberCats (2-0 and No. 2 in the AFL coaches' poll). San Jose beat the defending American Conference champion Philadelphia Soul last week, 70-33, with rookie quarterback Nathan Stanley replacing injured starter Russ Michna and throwing six touchdown passes.

James, who left a wife and two children in Salt Lake City to come to Pittsburgh, said there is talent on the Power's roster.

“It's just a matter of getting them to play together and keeping them focused,” he said.

Lesue is eager for the rest of the season.

“After seeing Coach James come in with what I know and what I'm used to, it actually makes lot of sense to me as far as what the team needs,” he said. “I think Coach James is exactly what the team needed from the head coaching position, the leadership.”

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