Newark Star-Ledger

August 21, 1974

By Mike Weber

Stars host Texans tonight, seek No. 5

NEW YORK - Funny how things go in circles. Take the New York Stars and their first World Football League season for example.

Coach Babe Parilli said during training camp that he felt he had a good team. So, the Stars lost their first two games.

Ok, the Stars aren't so good. Let's all expect them to lose. So the Stars win their third game...and fourth...and fifth...and sixth and, suddenly, the Stars are winners. So now we expect the Stars to win.

They'll try for their fifth straight victory tonight at Downing Stadium, opposing the Houston Texans. The fans, who earlier this season, delighted in each point the Stars scored, will now delight only in victory. Same goes for the Stars players.

They feel they've untracked themselves now and when the final 14 games of this season are history, they feel they'll be among the league's elite.

Which brings us back to where we started - the Stars are a good team.

Just how good? Tonight's game may tell. The Texans are only 2-3-1 but they have the WFL's leading defense, overall and against the rush. The Stars have the league's best rushing offense. Something has to give.

"At no time with the Giants did they have as good a defense as we do right now," says head coach Jim Garrett, former Giants aide.

To be sure, that's a strong statement. That notwithstanding. Houston does have a fine veteran defense.

There is for example, 13-year NFL veteran defensive end Joe Robb. And former Giant tackle Jim Kanicki and middle linebacker Garland Boyette and free safety John Mallory, all NFL-stars.

The defense has allowed only six touchdowns, only one after a sustained drive. The others came after offensive mistakes, something which has plagued Houston. Mallory keys a secondary which has intercepted 12 passes, three each by left cornerback Pat Gibbs and right cornerback Daryl Johnson.

That could spell trouble for New York quarterback Tom Sherman who enjoyed his finest passing game last week, completing 11 of 18 for 144 yards. And the defensive line has allowed just 124 yards rushing per game, far below the Stars league-leading average of 180 yards.

Bob Gladieux, with 84 carries for 313 yards, and Andy Huff (46 for 194) will be the starting running backs for the Stars and could have things a bit rough. Meanwhile, Al Young (17 for 253) may find getting open a chore.

The Stars may discover that their chief ally is the Texans offense. It has been a counter-productive unit all year, thanks primarily to injuries. Four different quarterbacks have been used, with Mike Taliaferro retaining first team status when he hasn't been hurt...which hasn't been often.

He's missed parts of three games, and has managed to complete 32 of just 44 passes. The backfield could present some problems, especially with former NFL star Jim Nance at fullback. He has carried 94 times for 304 yards and has proven a good running mate for Mike Richardson (54 for 177), who was activated two games ago.

The wide receivers are John Odom and Rick Eber, the tight end Willie Frazier. Eber is the top receiver with 18 catches for 192 yards while Odom has a 51-yard touchdown to his credit among 10 catches. Former Jet Don Maynard, rumored close to signing with Houston, could replace one of the wide receivers.

The Houston defense, however, will undoubtedly tell the tale of the match. It has 69 years of pro experience and says Parilli, "We'll have to play about as hard as we can play to move the ball."

The defense has been named Dueguello, a Spanish word meaning give no quarter. It was been the battle cry used by both sides at the Alamo and is the song played at the moment of truth in a bullfight.

The stadium organist might well be advised to play it tonight because, despite the Stars; status as seven-point favorites, the battle figures to be fierce.

STAR DUST - The Stars will be without veteran wide receiver George Sauer tonight. Sauer is suffering from a pulled calf muscle in his left leg and will be sidelined along with another wide receiver, rookie Bob Hermanni of Montclair State.

To replace Sauer and Hermanni on the roster, the Stars added two rookie wide receivers, Kreg Kapitan of Mankato State and Tom Spinks of Louisiana Tech. Also added was linebacker John Moss, a two-year pro who played with Hamilton, Ontario of the Canadian Football League last season.