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A Cry for Help with Four Games to Go

Manny Nunez
Monday June 30, 2014

When the Los Angeles KISS broke out of their Thursday practice before taking off for Phoenix to face the Arizona Rattlers, they had a lot on their minds knowing that there were a long stretch of tough opponents coming up.  Even with a chance to knock off the unbeaten of the Arena league, effort and determination was all that head coach Bob McMillen was looking for.  They were more than likely not going to win, but at least a desire to play as hard as they could had to be seen.  

When the KISS fell flat and were pummeled, they then seemed lost.  More roster shake ups had occurred all week, including placing fellow star A.J. Cruz and recent wide receiver acquisition Samora Goodson on reassignment.  Trust is now becoming an issue with this team, and no job in all reality seems safe.  With a 64-46 loss to the Spokane Shock, allowing the team to clinch the third playoff spot in the National Conference, time is beginning to run out, and fast.  
“We need players that can help us win,” head coach Bob McMillen said.  “We gave up 82 points last week and needed to make a decision quick, especially in our defensive backs.  We had guys quit on us, leave our team, and we found some veterans that can at least help us out.”
With all the roster shakeups and moves as well, many of the new players who are trying to get used to the system are showing their inexperience.  Even include Aaron Garcia in the picture.  Twice in the first half he committed self errors that more than likely gave the Shock the game so early.  Once came on a pass along the line of scrimmage from their own five that slipped right out of his hands.  Diryal Spriggs recovered, allowing the Shock to score on the next play.  Near the end of the half, Garcia tripped on his own feet and tried to throw a desperation pass off his back on a crucial third down play.  He was sacked on the next play which ended the half, completing a scoreless affair during the second quarter.  
“We felt good coming out of the game,” Garcia said.  “We got open early, scored and had the game for most of the first half.  They got through our line a couple of times up front and everything seemed to snowball.  We made mistakes on our own and had a hard time trying to get out of it.”
It is certainly odd to see a team play the way the KISS have been and have done so many transactions where they only sit a half game behind the Portland Thunder for a playoff spot.  With four games remaining in the regular season, and with San Jose next on the schedule, there needs to be more than just showing up to play and hoping to perform.  The fans are noticing, and they are letting the team have it with boo birds and not-so-nice yelling all around the Honda Center.  
Since the KISS let go of J.J. Raterink to Jacksonville, who was later traded to Iowa, the team has been a mere 1-4 with him as a starter.  Raterink has started in six of seven games since the trade and is 2-4, but the Barnstormers have been in two of those four losses and had only fallen by one possession.  The major difference has been the trust of Barmstormers head coach Mike Hohensee, who has also been a coach and mentor to McMillen while they were a part of the Chicago Rush.  With Garcia mentioning being the starter the rest of the season, it is hard to overlook the talents of Kenny Guiton, who took over the fourth quarter and dazzled.  By then though, the Shock forced the game out of reach by scoring in each onside recovery possession.  
You can see a cry for help when it comes to unity.  Playing against teams that have years of Arena experience has certainly taught them a lot of what life is like out here.  The KISS by all means are making an effort, but trying to build a family as players is their major priority.
“When you want to build something, its extremely difficult when you have new guys come in every day,” wide receiver Donovan Morgan said.  “Coach has made a statement saying that he will stick with the guys that we have the rest of the season.  What Aaron and I have always preached is we can't develop ourselves if we keep bringing in new guys.  Every week its a new regime, and at the end of the day it's hard to develop a trust in each other.  It's a big part of trying to make it in this league.”
As of right now, Morgan and Garcia are the only two players that have their spots solidified the rest of the season, according to McMillen.  McMillen did mention that the men he has he will use the rest of the season, but with four games to go and in desperation mode, it would be to no surprise to see any more roster moves that happen throughout the week.  San Jose comes to town next Sunday, but winning is on their minds more than ever.

Manny Nunez is a freelance writer who resides in Los Angeles. He has been an arena football fan since 1996 while living in Phoenix, dedicated to the Arizona Rattlers. Although he lives in Southern California, he still reps his Arizona teams. He is also a beat writer for the Phoenix Coyotes for
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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