By John Kovach
Shane Adler is the lone roster quarterback as the season winds down.
YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning Valley Thunder has gone through four quarterbacks so far this season — Josh Swogger, Mike Schneider, Davon Vinson and Shane Adler — in its quest to find a leader to revive the struggling af2 team.
But Swogger and Schneider both were injured earlier in the season and are unable to play, while Vinson just recently was suspended by the af2.
That leaves Adler as the Thunder’s only roster quarterback, and the former Wisconsin-La Crosse signal-caller is hoping he can develop the passing consistency necessary to lead the team’s turnaround for the final four games of the season.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound quarterback, who has played in five games so far this season, will get another chance to spark a Thunder (2-10) turnaround when he starts against the Louisville Fire (7-5) Friday night at 7:05 on the Cortland Banks Field inside the Chevrolet Centre.
Adler has completed 59 of 153 passes for 699 yards and seven TDs, but he has been intercepted 12 times.
He’s determined to correct that and help the Thunder snap a three-game losing streak.
“I have to be more consistent. If things don’t go your way, you just have to forget about it, and the next series come back and drive downfield and score,” said Adler, 26, a native of New Lisbon, Wis., who is in his second season in the af2.
He played for Louisville last year and then with the Green Bay Blizzard earlier this season.
“I have to try not to force passes. If nothing is there, I have to throw [the ball] away and treat it as just another down.”
Adler’s starting receivers will be Clenton Rafe, Chris Archie and Chris Curd, with Quorey Payne and Golden Goodwin waiting in the wings.
Adler will try to find them open Friday, but the af2 defenses are quick and the windows of opportunity narrow.
“Things happen a lot quicker [in the af2]. It’s 1-on-1 like basketball. It is pretty much red-zone football over the entire field,” said Adler.
Adler had been Vinson’s backup lately until the latter was suspended by the league.
“I heard that they found out [Vinson] played in another league this year that was a lower level than the af2. You could play if the team you played with was a higher level than the af2,” explained Adler, who has no backup for this week’s game.
John Tackmann also can play quarterback if needed, said Adler.
“Tackmann plays the goal-line quarterback. He would be able to go in and play.” Other than him, “I don’t know what they will do.”
Adler said the Thunder, in order to start winning, has to “score every time we have the ball and hope the defense can stop the other team.”
For example, in the Thunder’s 69-27 loss to the Green Bay Blizzard last week, the Blizzard scored on all 11 possessions except the final one as they ran out the clock.
“There are three parts to winning a game: special teams, offense and defense, and everything has to click for the team to score as much as possible,” said Adler, who threw two TD passes against the Blizzard but was intercepted twice.
“It’s important to get off to a good start. It’s nice if things go your way and the receivers are making plays and the line is blocking good.”
But Adler said the Thunder still is a young team and still learning.
“Last year, I played with a lot more veterans [with Louisville]. The Thunder is a young team. We don’t have too many two-year guys. We’re all rookies.”
However, “That’s no excuse. This will be our 13th game. We just have to make plays. We need to score every time we get the ball.”