Another KISS Loss, But a Much different Feel
Two games into the Arena Football Season, the Los Angeles KISS entered their home opener with a lot on their mind. Losing both games to start the year and after a very shaky 2014 campaign naturally had this football team a little worried. Last season their main focus beyond football was how to entertain the fans with dancers, bands, and pyrotechnics. Brett Bouchy ran the show, and with how the team performed, there just seemed to be a lot of animosity.
A much different look has invaded the Honda Center. There were much less distractions. Overhead go-go dancers were long gone. In between play craziness became nearly non-existent. And their football team, its main product, looked a lot more comfortable to be on the field. Joe Windham, former president of the Arizona Rattlers, knew he had to make a lot of overhaul and focus more on how to create a kind of team chemistry that will slowly start to earn wins the right way.
The Los Angeles KISS has now started to become a legitimate arena football product that is becoming more serious to win, more than ever, even if they had some of the old remind them what they could have had in J.J. Raterink.
Las Vegas had their way from start to finish. The KISS, though, did not keel over like they would last season. Down 27-14 in the second quarter, quarterback Adrian McPherson needed to take over near the end. Life was given back to the team after reviewing the clock on an incomplete pass allowed one more second. That gave way for McPherson to run one into the end zone, one of four touchdowns he had on the ground. They even started the third with the lead after Donovan Morgan snagged a touchdown from the left corner. Blow for blow these two teams traded bouts, but it became a game of botched kickoff returns from Marcus Trice late in the third quarter that propelled the Outlaws from taking control.
“Those two plays were the big turning points that dictated how the game ended up,” KISS head coach Bob McMillen said. “Those are things that we control. We are still continuing to make mistakes that cost us football games. I wish you were in the locker room to see 24 grown men crying and upset thinking that game was theirs. They know we are playing better than our record.”
Last year’s KISS would have thrown in the towel after being behind two scores early. This year has a much different feel. Players were distraught after the game, but the emotion had still remained high even after such a difficult loss.
“Last year we were quick to pull the trigger on a lot of things,” Morgan said. “This year from the head on to the coaches, they all understand that if you want to call yourself a family, we are going to go through turmoil, and you have to withstand that hurricane. Once you get out, it is going to be amazing. We plan to stick with our guys and stay the course and challenge each other to see who wants to play.”
The most important stat came from McPherson, who had a lackluster game against San Jose a week ago. Struggling to execute anything on the field, he was benched in the second half. Against Las Vegas, he seemed to have a wake up call.
“I feel like anytime you don’t win the game it does put a damper,” McPherson said. “I thought offensively we did a much better job of passing and making the reads. Our job though is to score every time, and with certain plays it did dictate the entire game. We are progressing offensively, but we just need to clean up the mental mistakes.”
“Adrian is getting more confident in the game,” McMillen said. “He has been out of the AFL for a few years. He is still getting accustomed of getting used to a smaller field. He is a dual threat that we love to have on our team, with his arm and on the ground.”
One thing that took a downward spiral last year was the fact that week after week, fans would see a completely different roster. Even with starting the season 0-3, the KISS have started to build a kind of confidence with their current system, and with their current head coach. Losses are contagious, but close losses are much easier to correct.
Orlando now awaits them on their schedule. The KISS still understands that they are that weak team everyone wants. It may take a little time to become noticeable, but the composure now is starting to show.
“I think we took steps in the right direction,” Morgan said. “At the end of the day, we still don’t have a W in the win column. We just have to test ourselves and ask ourselves if we are capable. Look for a brand new KISS team and hopefully bring back a W from Orlando.”