“Article by Melvin Moten for Pittsburgh Sporting News”
Pittsburgh Power vs. New Orleans Voodoo.
Saturday, June 7, Consol Energy Center
Kickoff: 5:00 p.m.
The Ron James Edition Pittsburgh Power have to be feeling good about things. Their heavy-handed defense and efficient-to-explosive offense proved more than enough to drag the division rival Cleveland Gladiators from their undefeated perch.
Time to enjoy victories is short in the AFL however, and the 8-3 Power have to refocus and get ready for one of the true tests of a good teams mettle- the trap game.
In a sport as unpredictable as arena football, nothing is more dangerous than a team with only pride to play for. The visiting New Orleans Voodoo are just that, a 2-8 team the Power thumped by 42 points the last time they were here. New Orleans squandered a double-digit lead at home against Iowa two weeks ago and doesn’t even have the home radio announcers on their side anymore.
The Voodoo have suffered injury after injury to their starting roster, most notably quarterback Kurt Rocco, who’s been in and out of the lineup and is currently on injured reserve. The Voodoo had high hopes for athletic rookie Ryan Perrilloux, but the AFL learning curve is steep and he’s struggled so far.
News out of the Big Easy is Perriloux underwent X-Rays after last Friday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Storm. His current status is undisclosed.
All of this should make Saturday’s game an easy win for the Power, owners of a five-game winning streak coming off a signature victory against Cleveland. Therein lies the trap, a desperate, overmatched two-win team with nothing to play for but pride is more dangerous than an undefeated team trying to stay perfect could ever be.
Worst of all, bad teams always seem to find ways to injure the best players on the other team: The LA KISS have managed to put both Spokane’s Eric Meyer and the Power’s own Virgil Gray on the shelf on the way to their own 2-8 record.
This is one of those games the Power know they should win, which is why James and his staff need to make sure the team is ready to do so. The defense needs to put whatever quarterback NOLA starts on his heels [and then his back] early and often.
Tommy Grady and the offense has to start fast and put up points early. Most important for the offense is to stay ahead in down-and-distance. Third or fourth and long is where risks get taken, mistakes get made and stars get hurt.
Basically, the Power have to treat this last-place team like an undefeated team. There’s nothing coach James and the fans would enjoy more this weekend than a nice, boring blowout.
See you at the Power Plant.
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Power