Ray Jauch will celebrate a measure of independence Monday.
While everyone else is whooping it up over the verities of the founding fathers, Jauch will take a deep breath and relax for the first time since the U.S. Football League season began five months ago.
"I'm just gonna go set out on a stump," said the coach of the Washington Federals, who will end their season today against the Philadelphia Stars at RFK Stadium at 1:30 p.m. (WMAL-630). "That's just what I'm gonna do.
"I've been coaching in Canada so long I haven't seen a July 4th in 18 years or so. I'm beat. I had to laugh when I heard some of the players saying they've been playing for 30 weeks, or whatever. I haven't had a vacation in more than two years. I'd like to see a few fireworks and then do a little nothing until it's time to go back to work."
Team owner Berl Bernhard has given measured indications recently that Jauch will indeed go back to work for the Federals despite their 3-14 record. In the midst of a 10-game losing streak, Bernhard made no secret of his disenchantment with Jauch and the team in general, but his attitude seems changed.
At a press conference to introduce Chuck Garcia as the team's new personnel director, Bernhard said, "I won't make any firm decisions for another three weeks." But he also said he has been encouraged by the Federals' recent victories over Arizona and Los Angeles and Jauch's determination to build a successful team.
Jauch has a last, albeit slender, chance to win today against Philadelphia. But the Stars, at 15-2, are the league's best team.
The last time the Federals played the Stars they lost, 34-3, at Veteran's Stadium on Easter Sunday. In that game, Philadelphia's strong offensive line, led by Irv Eatman, consistently opened holes for Kelvin Bryant, the league's second-leading rusher behind Herschel Walker, and Allen Harvin. Replacing Bryant in the second half, Harvin gained 119 yards and scored two touchdowns. The Stars view today's game as a tuneup for the two-round playoffs that begin next week and are likely to give Bryant only as many carries as is necessary.
Philadelphia quarterback Chuck Fusina is a control player. He relies mainly on Bryant, who has run for 1,442 yards and 16 touchdowns, and short passes to the running backs. Fusina, who played at Penn State, has completed 57 percent of his passes. Philadelphia also has the league's leading scorer, kicker David Trout, who has been good on 28 of 41 field goal tries.
"They've won with balance," Jauch said. "Bryant is a great player, but the team makes him even better. He has room to run and, with Fusina, you can't just concentrate on Kelvin."
The Federals are hurting, and that is only appropriate. Injuries have been an important element in their overall misfortune. This week, receivers Mike Holmes and Joey Walters and linebackers Mike Muller and Mike Corvino are among those considered questionable.
Once again, quarterback Kim McQuilken, who has completed 75 of 109 passes for 597 yards in the last four games, will rely heavily on Craig James and Billy Taylor as both running backs and receivers. McQuilken, who has quarterbacked the team to all three of its victories, will have to have an extraordinary day to confound Philaelphia's steady defense.
"It would be great to give Philadelphia a tough game," Jauch said. "It'd be even better to win. But the main thing is, we want to see who can play. We want to see who will be around next year, the guys who have what it takes to beat any team in the league."