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Waiting to be good was just too late

Manny Nunez
Sunday August 9, 2015

After the LA KISS scored their first touchdown of the game, the KISS Junior dancers came on to the field to perform. They surrounded the 25 yard line in a big circle and waited for the music to cue.

And they waited.

And they waited some more.

By the time the music started, it was too late to start their routine, so they had to rush off the field. 

Compare that to how the Los Angeles KISS 2015 season turned out to be. After an 0-9 horrific start, they had a fairly remarkable turnaround finishing the second half 4-5. At the same time, there were a few of their losses that should have gone their way. You take into account heartbreaking losses to Arizona, Tampa Bay, and Philadelphia, and this team could have been talking playoffs going into the last game of the year. 

“We have now turned into a team that can say we can compete in the West,” head coach Bob McMillen said. “The West is a very tough division, because when you play the Arizona’s and the San Jose’s three times a year its tough.”

Still, with how the season turned out to be, the fact that this KISS team was once a checklist for wins on opponents schedules eventually became nightmares. In all four of their wins, they either matched our exceeded the turnover battle. In nearly all of their losses they played inconsistently with holding on to the football.

Amidst with all of the issues on the field, dealing with injuries and securing marquee players did not phase them in their final nine games. Watching Adrian McPherson depart to the CFL allowed Danny Southwick a second chance at redemption. When he was on, he was nearly unstoppable with his arm, which also allowed a much stronger start to the second half to the season. 

One biggest missing piece to the puzzle was its defense and its lack of protecting the field. Adding Rayshaun Kizer brought a lot of veteran leadership, which eventually bled to the rest of the defensive front. Only three times did the KISS allow more than 50 points, including last night against San Jose, making a big difference in resting up the offense. 

“Getting some of those guys like the Kaisers and Victorians was huge,” McMillen said. “It was not just our coaching personnel. We have to have players run and they excecuted great.”

This team was criticized from the start of the season, but by then it wasn’t about proving many fans or critics wrong. They were just over a game short from making the playoffs, and this season had a lot of what ifs that did turmoil what could have been an incredible second half to the season. You can finally say that the KISS are out of that “expansion” shadow, where they have now risen the bar. 

One of the main personnel that will be addressed is at quarterback, where things are a little shady on trusting Danny Southwick. He had a lot of shoes to fill replacing McPherson and performed above expectations at times. The team can possibly now be in position to find a true veteran depending on the pool that develops, but they have a lot of time in the offseason to improve on Southwick’s game.

“We went through six quarterbacks this season,” McMillen said. “That is a positon that we will have to address, but I saw some great things out of Danny.”

McMillen’s contract is also up in October. Most people can say that with how the second half turned around, he may be able to stick around and see what happens next season. If it were last year, it would be a much different story. But now Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and Joe Windham will have to look at all the angles to see if this is a move they can see in the future. 

“I hope to come back next year,” McMillen said. “I am passionate about winning and winning here in Southern California. I really feel that this team, and these owners deserve a solid team and a chance at a championship.”

LA made things exciting for next year, and the fact with how things turned out, they are very fortunate to salvage their season up to the last week. They have most of the pieces in place, but at this point excuses have all but run out as they look forward to 2016. 

“We have a good core of guys,” McMillen said. “This was big since this was something we didn’t have last season. We built a good core going in to next year and we now just need to fill in those missing pieces moving forward.”

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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