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Winning still Heroes#8217; objective

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Arena football is different than the conventional game played by the NFL.

So are the objectives. Just ask Huntington Heroes head coach Garry McPeek.

“Number one, we’re here to entertain. Number two, we’re here to win games. That’s our core values and that’s not going to change. We’re here to make sure the fans have a good time,” McPeek said.

Thanks to the new additions, the Heroes should be able to do both as they attack the American Indoor Football Association Northern Division.

The Heroes, 9-6 and playoff qualifiers in the 2006 inaugural season, have worked to bolster their roster when the new season gets underway Feb. 3 against Carolina in their new home at Big Sandy Arena.

Added to the mix this season will be a lot of key players including former Marshall All-Mid American Conference offensive lineman Nate McPeek, the head coach’s nephew, and quarterback Jimmy Skinner who just finished his senior season.

Skinner isn’t the only new quarterback planning to replace the last year’s starter Freddie Ray who is no longer on the roster. The Heroes also signed Joey Conrad of Glenville State and Ramon Robinson who has been playing with another arena team.

“We have three quality quarterbacks,” coach McPeek said. “Ramon Robinson is 30 and this isn’t his first rodeo. He’ll be a dandy.

“The quarterback’s job is distribution to the playmakers and letting them make plays.”

Nate McPeek joins returning starters Luke Salmons and Greg Barnum along with signee Chris Barnes to form a strong offensive line. Salmons and Barnes both played at Marshall.

“We have four great offensive linemen,” coach McPeek said.

The receiving corps is back in tact including ex-Bowling Green star James Hawkins and South Point product Shane Holsinger, the team’s leading receiver last season.

“The key is protecting the quarterback and we have wour of the best offensive linemen in the league. Finding skilled players is not that hard,” coach McPeek said.

The defense has added defensive back Thomas Riley of the University of Charleston to go with defensive lineman Jamus Martin, the team leader in sacks, and linebacker Michael “Kool-Aid” Owens.

Martin and Owens are two more of 16 former Herd players on the roster.

“Thomas Riley is very fast. We’re real excited about bringing him in,” coach McPeek said.