FIERY CONTEST EXPECTED ON SUNDAY, AS THE LEAGUE’S BEST RIVALRY TAKES CENTER STAGE (OFFICIAL GAME PREVIEW)
(LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA- Thursday, April 21, 2016)
Never before has there been a more anticipated regular season game in the LFL than this Sunday’s upcoming Western Conference match-up. As the Seattle Mist (1-0) prepare to head into the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA to face the LA Temptation (0-0), the blood has already began to boil for players, coaches, and fans.
This Western Conference rivalry was built on a track record of fierce competition, meaningful games, and close finishes. In fact, the two franchises have been around since day-one in the LFL and have played each other ten times in the last six seasons, with the all-time series standing at five wins apiece. Eight of the ten contests have been decided by one score, two of which were separated by a single point last season.
For years, the Temptation had the upper hand and seemed to always find a way to get past the Mist, but in 2015 the tables turned as LA watched their rival pull off a last-minute victory in the Western Conference Championship and go on to win their first Legends Cup. If that finish wasn’t enough to fuel the fire for this match-up, the switching of allegiances by some players that have taken place will definitely add to the riches of this game. As LA looks to get back on top of this rivalry and Seattle plans to retain the upper hand, this 11th match-up will be one for the history books.
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Las Vegas Betting Line
Seattle- 3 points | Over/Under 42 points
Despite a dominant win in Week-One against the Acoustic, the Seattle Mist offense seemed to struggle compared to a season ago. Quarterback KK Matheny had an uncharacteristic performance, only completing 3 of 12 passes for 48 yards with two touchdowns and one interception against the inexperienced new franchise. With the new dynamics and personnel in Seattle’s offense, maybe a chemistry building and dusting of the cobwebs was needed for this Mist passing game.
The strong running-game from a season ago, was still alive as Stevi Schnoor rushed for three touchdowns, averaging 6.1 yards-per-carry on seven attempts. Along with the running game, the defense led by Danika Brace hasn’t skipped a beat from 2015. Lashaunda Fowler posted 8.5 tackles, followed by Brace with 7.5 and Mele Rich with 5.5 tackles. Mele Rich and Shea Norton both recorded two sacks each, and Rich also hauled in the team’s first interception this season.
The big news all week was the Mist’s signing of former LA Defensive-end Kimm Chase. This will certainly add to the rivalry as Chase is slated to start in place of the injured Katie Whelan. Chase was a punishing pass rusher last season and Matheny knows from experience the kind of hits that LA’s Jayne Caldwell should expect on Sunday.
Also playing this week, will be the 2015 Rookie-of-the-Year, Dominque Malloy who is returning from minor injuries suffered in a motor-vehicle accident last month. Malloy will get carries behind the starting Schnoor and is expected to be an integral part of this offense.
Key for Seattle
Seattle should not expect to run the ball as effectively against LA compared to Austin, so it will be important to get the passing game back on track. Matheny will need to do a better job of finding her open receivers and making smart decision with the ball. On defense, the key is for the front-line to contain running-back Nas Johnson and put pressure on Jayne Caldwell. Caldwell’s inexperience at quarterback will be LA’s primary weak-spot for Seattle to expose on Sunday.
Whelan – Back – Out
Baker – Hand – Questionable
Players to Watch
Los Angeles Temptation
In the final minute of last year’s Western Conference Championship, a fumble by Sherri Awagah on the doorstep of a potential game-winning touchdown stopped LA’s chances of getting back to the Legends Cup since their last appearance in 2012. With a long off-season to deal with the bitterness and what-ifs, this Temptation team is ready to stop Seattle’s dominance of late in this rivalry, as they have won three straight against LA.
With many off-season changes for the Temptation, their power ranking is hard to project heading into this season. Former co-head coach David Bizub has stepped down, leaving the reigns to Tui Suiaunoa who looks to return LA to its former glory. The team moved on from long-time franchise quarterback Ashley Salerno, due to off-the-field issues that outweighed her on-field contribution. Her successor was an unknown for most of the offseason, as back-up Michelle Angel signed with Dallas and prospect Kadi Findling underwent shoulder surgery, but LA has found a replacement they are excited about with Australian import Jayne Caldwell, who most recently served as back-up quarterback for Dakota Hughes in Atlanta last season.
The Temptation also made many free-agent acquisitions this off-season with most-notably, former Seattle Mist starters Lily Granston and Megan Hanson. These two signings were the first blockbuster ‘switching of allegiances’ to take place in this historic rivalry. Along with those signings, LA brought in former Las Vegas Sin stars Cynthia Schmidt, Tai Emery, and Brittany Henderson, as well as Atlanta’s former running-back Nas Johnson, who has Legends Cup experience from her 2014 campaign with the Steam.
The defense is still led by HOF linebacker Monique Gaxiola, and cornerbacks Ogom Chijindu and Chelsey Haardt. Starting safeties this Sunday are Lily Granston and Tai Emery for the Temptation. Megan Hanson will start in the trenches on both offense and defense playing center and defensive-end and will be surrounded by Quincy Hewitt and Sherri Awagah on offense and a mix of those two filling in for the injured Naja Christmas at defensive-end. Starting offensively at the wide-receiver position is Cynthia Schmidt and Kiana Takairangi. Nas Johnson will start in the backfield and look for Chijindu to get some carries on Sunday.
Key for Los Angeles
It is important for Jayne Caldwell to protect the football and execute offensive coordinator Jeff Lowden’s new playbook and philosophy. This game will be decided in the trenches, so establishing a running game and protecting Jayne Caldwell at quarterback will be crucial for the Temptation to get the offense going. Defensively, LA will have their hands full with all of Seattle’s offensive weaponry, but their best opportunity to stopping the Mist is defending the run and getting pressure on Matheny. Due to the Mist’s mediocre performance in the passing game week-one, expect Suiaunoa to make Seattle try to resort to throwing the ball. Forcing an early turnover would be a big momentum turn of LA.
Christmas – Shoulder – Out