Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Garcia Takes Long Road to Sharks; Coach Moss Brings the Sacramento Resident to Play QB in Jacksonville

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Garcia Takes Long Road to Sharks; Coach Moss Brings the Sacramento Resident to Play QB in Jacksonville

Article excerpt

Byline: GARY LEDMAN

What happened in Vegas last August stayed with the player, and the coach. Now they're hoping the payoff comes in Jacksonville.

Les Moss was in Las Vegas as a coach with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Pioneers, who were playing the Spokane Shock in the championship game of af2, the developmental league of Arena Football. Aaron Garcia was a quarterback in search of a team, trying to stay in shape and playing the role of stay-at-home dad to three kids in Sacramento, Calif., while the indoor game's major league spent 2009 on hiatus and tried to regroup. He would be turning 39 in October and could only hope the game would be back before his playing days had passed him by.

The conversation was brief. Moss had to prepare for a game. Garcia had more networking to do. Let's talk, they said.

A few months later, the Arena Football League resurfaced with Jacksonville as one of its 14 teams and Moss as its head coach. He knew where to go looking for a quarterback.

"He [Garcia] was the first guy I called," said Moss, whose coaching roots in the indoor game go back to 1988.

"That meant a lot," Garcia said. "If I did come back, I wanted to do it being around people who went through this whole mess and had been committed to this whole thing."

He entertained offers from a few other teams (including one of his former teams, the Iowa Barnstormers), met with Sharks offensive coordinator Chris Siegfried and kept in touch with his old teammate from the New York Dragons, defensive lineman Henry Taylor. When Taylor decided to sign with the Sharks, Garcia decided he wanted to come to Jacksonville, too.

Garcia and Taylor are part of why the Sharks think they can be contenders as they launch their first AFL season on Saturday night in Oklahoma City. In Arena Football, with its shorter, narrower field and eight players instead of 11, perhaps even more than in the regular game, it's all about the quarterback.

"AG's our man. As long as he stays healthy, he'll take us as far as we go," said defensive back Dee Webb, who played with the Florida Gators and Jaguars. Webb said Garcia is the only quarterback who threw two touchdown passes against him when Webb played for league champion Philadelphia in 2008. …

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