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Craig DeVrieze

Sam Clemons stood in at quarterback in place of Adam Sandler in the soon-to-be-released remake of "The Longest Yard."

He hopes to stand in for  Matt Pike in Sunday's Quad-City SteamWheelers season opener.

A former Division I-AA standout at Western Illinois, Clemons joined the SteamWheelers on Tuesday after being waived from the practice squad of the AFL's Dallas Desperadoes.

He said he came here to play and won't be happy if he is watching when the SteamWheelers visit Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for Sunday's 3 p.m. game.

Pike, a       second-year Wheeler who has been under center throughout training camp, said he plans to start  Sunday, and coach Rick Frazier indicated he "probably" will.

"Pike is our quarterback, but at this stage we are going to practice as if both are playing," Frazier said. "This thing is not going to drag out. We are going to sort it out in the next couple of weeks."

Last year's Q-C coach and current Desperadoes quarterbacks coach Rich Ingold said the SteamWheelers are getting quite a quarterback in Clemons.

"He can play. I love him," Ingold said. "If I was Rick Frazier right now, I'd be real happy."

Clemons, the 2001 Gateway Conference leader in total offense after transferring to Western Illinois from California, is taking a pay cut of $200 to      join the SteamWheelers. AFL practice squad members are paid $400 a week, while af2 players get $200 per game, plus $50 per win.

The 6-foot, 210-pound Clemons said his wasn't a hard decision.

"Playing, period," he said of his motivation for requesting his release from Dallas. "That's the only reason. I thought it would be in my best interest to come down and play."

Under the tutelage of Ingold in Dallas, Clemons was locked behind starter and former Dallas Cowboy Clint Stoerner and former af2 standout and NFL third-stringer Chris Greisen.

He faced a similar situation on the Chicago Rush active squad last year and early this year.

"I was in two tough situations," Clemons said.

Sitting Sunday would be tough, too, he conceded.

"I am here to win, not to watch," he said. "We'll leave it at that."

Clemons, a 26-year-old native of El Dorado Hills, Calif., said he isn't concerned about having only three days of practice to get indoctrinated in the SteamWheelers offense.

"Once you have run a couple of arena offenses, it isn't that complicated," he said. "There is only so much you can do. It's just a matter of terminology. (Q-C offensive coordinator Steve) Fickert has a good system here. It's easy to come in and learn."

Landing Clemons completes Frazier's months-long search for a second veteran quarterback. It started when last year's starter, Ronnie Gordon, was signed to an AFL squad last month and then declined to rejoin the Wheelers after being released 10 days ago.

Frazier also talked to former af2 starters Ryan Vena, Harold Arceneaux and Kane Claunch, with no success. He even contacted ex-Wheeler star Tony Zimmerman when he was waived by AFL Nashville last week.

"This kid here," he said of Clemons, "may be the best of the bunch."

Last summer Clemons outdueled 15 other quarterbacks for the right to play Sandler's double during drop backs and passing scenes in the forthcoming "The Longest Yard."

"It's the best offseason job ever," he said last year.

Craig DeVrieze can be contacted at (563) 333-2610 or

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