September 20, 2011 in Sports

Olson completes his Shock coaching staff

By The Spokesman-Review
The Spokesman-Review photo

Former Idaho Vandal Stanley Franks, left, who played for Spokane’s 2009 arenafootball2 championship team, will coach the secondary. Clay Harrell, right, a Shock fullback the last two seasons, will coach the offensive and defensive lines.
(Full-size photo)

New Spokane head coach Andy Olson completed his coaching staff with the hiring of two former Shock players.

Clay Harrell, a Shock fullback the last two seasons, will coach the offensive and defensive lines. Former Idaho Vandal Stanley Franks, who played for Spokane’s 2009 arenafootball2 championship team, will coach the secondary. They join Travis Crusenberry, a holdover from Rob Keefe’s staff who will serve as defensive coordinator.

“Clay has played the game for a number of years and he knows the ins and outs,” said Olson, who will be the offensive coordinator. “We talked during the season actually about maybe him hanging it up and being interested in coaching some day. When everything happened, I approached him about it.”

Franks played for CFL British Columbia the last two years, but his 2011 season ended with a horrific knee injury in July. He suffered a dislocated knee that stretched the arteries, nerves and blood vessels in his leg. He had surgery to repair arterial damage and he also had ligament reconstruction.

“He’s done playing for a while. He’s supposed to start putting pressure on his leg the next couple days,” Olson said. “I always thought he was one of the best defensive backs I’ve played against. I really like his attitude and how physical he is and I really want that instilled in our guys.”

Olson said he’s not worried about the staff’s inexperience. Olson will be entering his second year of coaching and his first as a head coach. Franks and Harrell will be first-year coaches. Crusenberry has more than a decade of coaching experience.

Arena Football League coaching staffs operate with a $100,000 salary pool, split however the team chooses. Most teams have two or three paid positions, but Olson opted for four because “with four we can get more done, meetings will be more efficient and four minds are better than three.”

Returning players

Spokane has announced just one player signing, defensive back Marquise Charles, who replaced an injured Alex Teems for the playoff game against Arizona. The three-week exclusive signing period, where teams can re-sign players from last year’s roster, ends Saturday.

Olson expects nine to 10 players to return, but he won’t discuss names until contracts are signed. Quarterback Erik Meyer has committed to return, but he has to be cleared by the medical staff because he was on injured reserve at the end of the season. Meyer is coaching high school football in California and he’s expected to return to Spokane when the season ends.

Receiver Raul Vijil, who has been with the franchise since its inaugural season in 2006, isn’t sure if he’ll play next season. He said he’s traveling to Spain “for a new life experience.” It’s a one-way ticket and he’s not sure when he’ll return.

“I want to take some time off and enjoy some things,” he said. “I’m going to continue to train over there. I’m going to weigh all options.”

New pay scale

The AFL touts itself as a quarterback-driven league and that will be reflected under a new salary structure approved at last month’s owners meeting. Players will earn $400 per game except starting quarterbacks, who will make more than $1,600. Player will earn an additional $50 per win.

Last year players earned $400 per game with three receiving marketing contracts worth $1,000.

Commissioner Jerry Kurz declined comment on the new pay scale.

Kurz confirmed the AFL will stay with an 18-game schedule. He said replay challenges will be extended to every game next season. Challenges were permitted during NFL Network broadcasts and playoff games in 2011.

Officiating crews will grow from five to six members. The AFL experimented with six-person crews in last year’s playoffs.

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