When Ike Dougherty suits up for the Ft. Wayne Freedom, he will be the 5th member of the organization with Charger football ties. Head Coach Dan Pfifer was an assistant at HC while receivers Keith Recker, Dan Musielewicz, and QB Bill Skelton all are former Chargers.
Slumping Freedom banged up
By Stacy Clardie
The Journal Gazette
May 7, 2006
Dan Musielewicz doesn’t particularly think Keanu Reeves is a great actor, but he recalled some of Reeves’ words to describe Fort Wayne’s recent 65-32 blowout at Lexington last week.
“In ‘The Replacements,’ Keanu Reeves talks about quicksand and how you get in it and you struggle and you do as much as you can and all you do is keep sinking further,” Musielewicz said. “That’s pretty much what happened. Early in the game, we did some bad things and a few things went wrong in the second half and pretty soon it was out of control.
“You didn’t know what happened. You didn’t know what was going on. Not good.”
The Freedom seemed to respond in practice this week with a pair of the most physical practices the team has had this season.
Coach Dan Pifer has been pleading for the group to exert energy and enthusiasm consistently – “since Week 2,” he said – and he was happy with the effort delivered Wednesday and Thursday.
Musielewicz called the atmosphere more businesslike.
“It’s now or never. Buckle up and start playing,” said Musielewicz, whose team has lost three consecutive games and plays at defending United Indoor Football champion Sioux Falls (6-0) tonight. “You might be playing football for fun, but it’s your job. It’s my job. It’s the coaches’ jobs. There’s no more screwing around.”
Certainly he hopes that translates into a victory, but Fort Wayne (3-3) will need more than just added emotion.
Three offensive starters will miss the game because of injury. Included in that group is starting running back Rocky Harvey, who will miss his second consecutive game with a high ankle sprain.
The offense runs through Harvey, so perhaps it wasn’t that big of a surprise when that unit managed little production without him last week at Lexington.
But the Freedom will have to adjust to playing without more than just Harvey tonight.
Receiver Luther Stroder was the primary running back without Harvey in the lineup last week, but Stroder injured his knee against the Horsemen and didn’t make the trip to Sioux Falls.
Pifer was all set to have newcomer Joe Johnson as the lone running back but found out Thursday that Johnson wouldn’t be available because of work commitments.
That means, by default, receiver Adrian Reese will get the bulk of the work at running back. And with that switch, there goes quarterback Bill Skelton’s favorite target.
Reese has team-highs with 36 catches, 367 yards and nine touchdowns. Musielewicz’s 16 catches, 170 yards and four TDs are the next best.
That means the plan Reese and Musielewicz discussed after practice Wednesday may have to be altered.
“Adrian and I had a few words and said, ‘Put it on my shoulders,’ ” Musielewicz said. “That’s what I want. But whatever it takes. Whether it’s this week, next week or the whole season, put it on our shoulders. We’ll start carrying them.”
In order for receivers to be productive, though, the offensive line must give Skelton time to throw, and Skelton must make the right reads. Skelton had the worst game of his career last week, completing only one more pass (five) than interceptions thrown (four). He’ll also have a new offensive lineman in front of him this week: Hillsdale product Ike Dougherty will fill in for injured Jamarkus Gorman at right guard.
Without Harvey and the rest of the injured starters, Pifer said he has opted to do “goofy” stuff on offense. He’s been pleased with the production out of the base offense, but he’s using this Harvey-less time to develop plays off that offense.
“We’re going to have to rely a lot on our defense,” Pifer said. “If our defense plays better than they did the first time here (in a 47-44 overtime loss April 15), we’ve got a chance to win.”
Saturday, May 13, 2006
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