Spokane Shock lose defensive coordinator

Alex Sirianni, the Spokane Shock’s defensive coordinator for the last three years, will not return to the team next season.

“I kind of felt like after four years it was probably time for me to pursue my original goal and get back to the outdoor game,” said Sirianni, who was a Shock defensive assistant/special teams coach in 2007 before being promoted to D.C. in 2008.

Sirianni has been putting out feelers the last couple weeks and hopes to join a college football coaching staff for the 2011 season. He didn’t rule out coaching with another Arena Football League team, but he hopes to return to the outdoor game.

“I don’t think there was anything more for him to accomplish at this level,” head coach Rob Keefe said.

Sirianni, 27, played at Division III Anderson (Ind.) University and coached two seasons at his alma mater before joining former Shock head coach Adam Shackleford’s staff in 2007. Spokane lost in the 2008 arenafootball2 championship game before routing Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 74-27 in the 2009 title game. Spokane led af2 in scoring defense (37.6 points allowed per game) in 2009.

The Shock captured the 2010 ArenaBowl championship, helped by a defense that ranked fourth (54.3) in the regular season and first (52.7) in the post season. Sirianni began the season calling the fronts and secondary coverages. As the season progressed, Keefe, a former af2 and AFL defensive back, called the secondary coverages.

“I was able to coach with a number of outstanding coaches and large number of outstanding players. Coming in at 24, I’d never been around this kind of talent before,” said Sirianni, who currently coaches Ferris High’s linebackers. “Rob and I spoke during the playoffs about the future and he gave me a heads up on his plan and my plan. There are absolutely no hard feelings either way and I think this is best for both parties.”

Offensive coordinator Matt Sauk left Spokane to take a similar position with the Utah Blaze. Line coach Travis Crusenberry is returning and will coach the offensive and defensive fronts. Spokane is expected to announce an offensive coordinator later this month. The Shock probably will go with a three-person coaching staff and Keefe hopes to have a volunteer coach, likely a former player who wants to break into the profession.

“We’re going to have a great system and a great squad,” Keefe said.

Each AFL team pays coaches from a pool of $100,000, divided at their discretion. Spokane was thought to be the only team with four paid coaches last season.

— Defensive lineman Ben McCombs, who missed the last half of the 2010 season with a torn ACL, will not be back with the Shock, Keefe said. McCombs, the 2009 af2 lineman of the year, and his girlfriend have moved to Nashville.

“At age 30, his playing days might be over,” Keefe said. “We had a nice talk and he’s going in a different direction.”

Keefe said wide receiver Raul Vijil, who has been with the Shock since their inaugural season in 2006, is rehabilitating following his ACL surgery and thinks Vijil has a chance to be ready for training camp in mid February.

— Numerous player contracts have been voided recently by the AFL, including one of Spokane’s new arrivals – defensive lineman Khreem Smith.

Not to worry, Keefe said. “It’s all paperwork. It has to do with past compliance issues, workers comp issues, unemployment issues. There’s nothing wrong. He’s 100 percent on our team.”

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