Barracudas host Odessa Saturday
BELTON - Things are looking up for the CenTex Barracudas professional indoor football team.
That may seem hard to believe, considering the Barracudas (2-3) are coming into tonight's 7 p.m. rematch with the Odessa Roughnecks (3-2) in the throes of a three-game losing streak after matching its best start in franchise history.
To make matters worse, the Roughnecks come into the game as one of the two hottest teams in the Intense Football League, winners of three straight after opening the season with two consecutive losses on the road.
In fact, the Barracudas and the Roughnecks enter the game on exact polar paths.
So, why does everyone in the Barracuda front office and locker room seem so optimistic about tonight's game and the remainder of the season?
One name - James Brown.
It's not like anyone is making the former Texas Longhorn standout this team's sole savior. But after starting quarterback Bart Gloyd went down with a season-ending shoulder injury two weeks ago against Odessa and former Baylor Bear Shawn Bell retired to coach with his father at China Spring, the Barracudas were forced to face defending IFL champion Louisiana last week without a starting quarterback on the roster.
In addition to bringing four years of arena football experience to the franchise, Brown offers the team leadership and a coach on the field. During his indoor football playing days, Brown did double duty as a high school football coach with Barracuda head coach Chris Duliban at Hyde Park Baptist in Austin, serving as offensive coordinator from 2001-03.
"We're excited to have him on board," Duliban said. "He's a veteran quarterback with a lot of experience at a lot of different levels and has had a lot of success. It's not like this is going to be his first rodeo. He knows the offense as well as anybody on this team." But Brown will not be the only new face to line up against Odessa.
Since veteran offensive lineman Ing Aleaga went down with a season-ending injury in the Barracudas' last home game against Louisiana, the young CenTex offensive line has struggled. But 6-6, 315-pound Eric Scott, who ran a 4.7-second 40 at the Barracuda pre-season combine, expects to see considerable playing time against the Roughnecks.
Scott, coupled with the experience some of the young players have gained over the last few weeks, should start to pay off. And the only way Brown will have any chance to be successful and productive at quarterback will be if the offensive can give him time to throw the ball.
'The offensive line did a decent job in Odessa,' Duliban said. 'We feel like there is a new hunger in their eyes. They want to get back on track more than anything and having someone like James back there really helps.'
Of course, the Roughnecks plan to have something to say about it, and they have been making a statement lately. Odessa eased to its third straight victory, crushing the third place Frisco Thunder, 74-41 last week. Roughneck quarterback Dennis Gile earned IFL offensive player of the week honors by completing 16 of 32 passes for 243 yards and five touchdowns, while running for two more.
Regardless, Duliban and the Barracudas feel like they have a new lease on life and are glad to be back home in the Bell County Expo Center.
"We're excited about our chances and the opportunity to turn our season around - all of us are," Duliban said. "We're ready to get back on track. We've learned a lot with a young team playing some really good competition. We've had good practices all week, we're focused and motivated, and we're looking forward to getting back home."
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