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Never have you ever seen a KISS win like this

Manny Nunez
Sunday April 3, 2016

If you have been an LA KISS fan since the beginning, let alone a die hard arena football fan, teams would look at their schedule and sense that a win against the KISS would be almost a guarantee. Of course there were some fluke games as the KISS began to change their morale when they closed out the 2015 season. So coming into this year, with just eight teams in the league, you have your dominant programs that you would expect to be in the last weeks of the season, and then you would have the doormats. The KISS were one of those teams that expected to hand out wins.

It might be tough to say now when Jacksonville showed up to the Honda Center. It was supposed to be a competitive game at the very least, where a balanced game at halftime turned into a complete slaughterhouse by the KISS franchise. Where last year everything that went wrong just turned the game upside down. This time around, the KISS got every break imaginable. It took a second half adjustment, something that the KISS have rarely done in the years they have been a part of the league, that completely wiped out the Sharks. A 64-39 win could be the start of something that no KISS fan would ever think good things could happen this early.

A number of these guys didn’t witness the debacle nearly every game the KISS had to deal with, from bad bounces off the cross bar on a kickoff to interception after interception that took away the game entirely. The final 30 minutes just seemed like there was something completely different. It all started with a kickoff to start the fourth quarter when DJ Stephens got the luck of the draw off the metal and set up for  touchdown on the ensuing play. Tommy Grady then let a pass go too soon and found Rayshaun Kizer instead. It was after that play that frustrated the Sharks and took the winds out of the sails.

In case you were wondering, there were a lot of firsts that occurred after a game like the KISS played. For the first time ever, newly hired head coach Omarr Smith earned his first win of his career. Quarterback Nathan Stanley also felt the rush and led a KISS offense to score more than 60 points for the first time since 2014. Never did the KISS feel the pressure offensively as they perfected the passing game all night with very few mishaps. Stanley’s arm was incredible, throwing for 283 yards and five touchdowns. He had his weapons too, where Donovan Morgan and Bandon Collins found the endzone. Stephens set up the offense leading the team in receiving yards with 101.

Coach Smith preached since the beginning when he began his coaching stint wanting to build a family. Things at the beginning felt as if it would be just another season where on the first play of the year, the KISS let in a 41 yard touchdown pass to Joe Hills completely untouched. But all game, Smith let his guys play. He wouldn’t sweat it out. He wanted his personnel figure out their mistakes, rather than have him take over the game when many would feel like they have to. That kind of leadership from his men showed in the last half of the game, and it became very difficult for the Sharks to get a hold of any kind of grasp in the game.

Leaving the arena, a couple was in the elevator with a program and LA KISS hat. They had smiles on their faces and were raving about the game. They told the elevator escort that it was the most fun they have had in a long time. If you ask the KISS players the exact same question, you would probably get the exact same answer. The KISS have started 1-0 before, and everyone saw where it led to. This is a different 1-0 feeling however. Chances are, they have put away all of the past and have brought to the Honda Center a completely new look. 

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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