EXPECT BAD-BLOOD IN LEGENDS CUP REMATCH OF CHICAGO vs ATLANTA, LFL USA SEASON-OPENER
(Atlanta, Georgia – Monday, March 9)
The Atlanta Steam will begin defense of the Legends Football League Eastern Conference title against the two-time defending LFL champion Chicago Bliss on Saturday, April 11 when the teams take the field for Week 1 of the LFLUSA 2015 season at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in what promises to be a heavyweight slugfest.
As a result of league realignment that included moving Chicago from the Western to the Eastern Conference, the reigning conference champions will face each other three times during the regular season as part of the new six-game schedule. Atlanta is home in the first of the three-game season series with Chicago hosting the other two.
With opening day about a month away, both Atlanta and Chicago are a few weeks into their preseason camps and are energized for the coming rematch. The teams will be trimming their rosters in the coming days to set the active rosters, a task that second-year Steam head coach Dane Robinson says will be tougher this year than last due to the increase in talent at all positions.
Coach Robinson shared his thoughts on Atlanta’s camp with LFL360.com a few days ago as he and his staff works to blend the talents of the veterans with the raw talent of the rookies that earn a place on the active roster for opening night.
Robinson believes that having last season’s Rookie of the Year Dakota Hughes back for her sophomore season at quarterback combined with a receiving corps that now includes former Jacksonville Breeze standout Lauran Ziegler as well as Steam two-year veteran Jodie Nettles will result in a big-play, high-scoring offense that can score from anywhere on the field. A pair of “rookie standouts” will also add to the fast-strike attack with Elana Cooper and Jessie Locklear both playing a role in Atlanta’s air attack.
The addition of Breeze star tight end/strong safety Adrian Purnell gives Hughes another dependable hands receiver that is a threat anywhere on the field.
With the depth of talent at receiver this season, Dakota is sure to add to the big-play reputation she earned last season after leading multiple late-game heroics.
Defensive end/guard Shayla Milsap was also included on Robinson’s “rookie standouts” list.
Dina Wojowski (C/MLB), another of the additions that resulted from the demise of Jacksonville, will play a key role in the middle on both sides of the ball. Robinson says that in addition to physical talent she and Purnell have shown the “fierce toughness and leadership” in camp that each displayed in their time with Jacksonville.
Running back Nas Johnson will anchor the Atlanta backfield once again and brings experience, toughness and physicality to the team.
Robinson, who has been with the Steam since the first season when he was part of the coaching staff, believes the depth of talent at this camp is “at an all-time high” for the franchise and is going to make the final cuts tough.
One of the most contested positions is corner back where Coach Robinson says that currently “there is a four-way battle between Ciara MacMillan, Jasmine Stills, Alfye Gore, and Althea McNichol for the two starting slots.”
McNichol is a LFL rookie, but has tackle football experience, and seems to have the advantage among the four, leaving MacMillan, Stills, and Gore battling for the second starting slot.
While Offensive Coordinator/Asst. HC Mark White and Quarterbacks Coach Dominique Robinson see the potential for a high-scoring offense, Robinson and his Secondary Coach Carlos Bustamante see the makings of a smothering, shut-down secondary that backs a defensive line that continues to play a physical brand of ball.
This edition of the Atlanta Steam is the most talented yet to wear the black and red. It remains to be seen if that will result in a Legends Cup victory, but the first step will be April 11.
While labeling a season opener as a must win game seems extreme, in Atlanta’s case, it is accurate. A home loss in the one home game with Chicago would mean the Steam would need to win two road games against the Bliss-a challenging task to put it mildly.
The Steam play home games at the 11,355-seat Arena at Gwinnett Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.
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