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Stull gets shot to start in Spokane

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bill Stull wasn't sure what — or how — to feel when he was told he would replace Kyle Rowley as the starting quarterback for the Arena Football League's Spokane Shock.

"I wouldn't say I was surprised," he said, "but it came from out of nowhere."

After reconsidering, Stull added, "I guess I was surprised."

Surprised, maybe, but the Pitt and Seton-La Salle High School product said he won't be intimidated when he lines up tonight for the defending champion Shock against the Dallas Vigilantes.

"You have to have the confidence to say, 'Go. Get it done,' " he said.

The game will be Stull's first starting assignment since Dec. 26, 2009, when he led Pitt to a 19-17 victory against North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. The Shock (3-5) are last in the National Conference's West Division.

Coach Rob Keefe, who played at Mercyhurst College, benched Rowley after a 51-41 loss last week to the Power in which the Shock scored only two touchdowns after halftime. The demotion came two weeks after the Shock scored 70 points in consecutive victories — and just nine months since Rowley threw nine touchdown passes, ran for another score and was named MVP in a 69-57 victory against Tampa Bay in ArenaBowl XXIII.

"The team has obviously been struggling a little bit, but we saw what we could do when we play smart and together and minimize mistakes," said Stull, who has attempted one pass in his rookie season. "You have to put that aside and say, 'It's a new week and new (opponent) and forget all that stuff.'

"There is definitely pressure, but I don't feel pressure this week of playing instead of Kyle. There is pressure on the whole team to turn this thing around and get us back on the track where it was last year."

Stull, cut twice by the Kansas City Chiefs and once by the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League in the past year, joined the Shock in February and was content to back up Rowley, long snap and cover kickoffs. He said his tackle of Power returner Jason Willis last weekend was his first as a defender since he was in the seventh or eighth grade at Mellon Middle School in Mt. Lebanon.

"I told the coach, 'I want to do something. Put me in,' " Stull said. "I'm not afraid to get hit. I'm a big guy. I've been hit multiple times before. This time, though, I was moving. It feels good."

Now, it's his job to avoid hits and help snap his team out of its offensive malaise.

"My number is called," he said, "and I have to step up and show them the reason they got me."

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