| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Power coach always finds 'next man'

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Friday, June 6, 2014, 7:03 p.m.

Coaches hate talking about injuries because the discussion sometimes can start sounding like a series of excuses.

Yet, it's sometimes unrealistic to stick out your chest, holler “next man up” and expect the same level of play from the next man.

It's even tougher in indoor football after the pool of sufficiently gifted players is thinned by the NFL and Canadian Football League, leaving Arena Football League coaches sifting through resumes and calling in favors from old friends.

There isn't an excessive number of good players, but somehow Power coach Ron James has been able to survive — thrive, actually — by finding replacements for some of the AFL's best.

“It's a function of being an old guy,” said James, 50. “I've been around this league for a while.”

That's one reason the Power will take a franchise-best five-game winning streak and an 8-3 record into their game Saturday against the New Orleans VooDoo (2-8) at Consol Energy Center.

Defensive back Virgil Gray, who was walking this week on crutches and with a boot on his high ankle sprain, will miss his third consecutive game. How did the Power respond to losing, arguably, the best defensive player in the league? They beat division leaders Orlando and Cleveland.

Defensive backs Andre Jones and Al Phillips, acquired by the Power after training camp, have filled the void left by Gray. Jones is returning kickoffs and helping in the secondary, and Phillips has three of the Power's league-leading 23 interceptions.

Phillips, who balked at being traded from Tampa Bay to Orlando, was sitting out the season until James called him soon after joining the Power in March.

“I was sitting out, waiting for the right opportunity,” said Phillips, who played for James and along side defensive backs coach Brandon Taylor in Utah.

At wide receiver, the Power acquired Hank Edwards in a trade with Spokane and picked up Rodney Wright after the start of the season. Edwards has 21 receptions (eight for touchdowns). Wright, 34, is averaging a touchdown approximately every five times he makes a catch. Overall, seven players have 19 or more catches and at least two touchdowns.

“It's a process and a process I enjoy, actually,” James said of acquiring players. “I know a lot of people.”

James, who has coached for 30 years (16 in the AFL), said he relies heavily on director of player personnel Brad Wittke.

“He does a great job being on the phone and being my second set of eyes,” James said.

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




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Pittsburgh police break up customer fights over Air Jordan 11 shoes
  2. Police crash victim’s death ruled accidental
  3. Cal U students aid Fayette survey
  4. Undersized Beachum quietly excels at 1 of game’s pivotal positions
  5. North Huntingdon residents warned about vehicle break-ins
  6. Penguins missing Martin, Ehrhoff, Adams; prized prospect Pouliot called up
  7. Butler County COG, Humane Society aim to control cat population
  8. Cal U official receives New Pittsburgh Courier honor
  9. Mars Area students put science theory into practice
  10. Man’s holiday spirit lights up Belle Vernon
  11. Seneca Valley team places 1st at Carnegie Science Center competition
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.