The Omaha Heart and the Chicago Bliss are having two completely opposite seasons so far this year. This Saturday, Chicago plans to head into Omaha, take care of business and get to a 4-0 record. Meanwhile, the Omaha Heart, that will hardly resemble the team that took the field in weeks 2-4, look to put their first points on the board this season. It was a nearly tragic, three-game run for the rookie-filled Omaha Heart in their first half of the season, as they gave up a record 190 points and failed to reach the end-zone. There is no doubt that Chicago and Atlanta circled their remaining contests against Omaha as a win.
Once Omaha took their third loss this season, on May 2nd in Atlanta, it was time for head-coach Dontae Allen and the Omaha Heart to figure out how they would regroup during their six week break and give their loyal fans something to cheer for. It took a league and team effort to bring in the necessary talented and experienced players that would give the Heart a new look and revitalize the young team. Omaha was able to acquire quarterback Anonka Dixon (Miami previously), wide-receiver and corner-back Heather Hudson (Baltimore previously), and defensive-end Leekplay Paye (Minnesota previously). Anonka Dixon during her short career with the Miamai Caliente, became one of the most electric and exciting players to watch in the history of the Legends Football League.
Omaha was missing leadership on both sides of the ball and it appears that they will have that commanding presence with the new acquisitions and returning players from seasons past. Their new starting seven offensively and defensively, are probably the best set of talent Omaha has suited up during franchise history. After the announcement of Omaha’s acquisitions, the Chicago Bliss quickly realized that their two remaining games against Omaha would no longer be a cakewalk. With the unknown on how Omaha’s new players are going to gel together, Saturday’s game is highly anticipated.
The Chicago Bliss have not lost a game since their first game of the 2013 season when they were defeated by the LA Temptation. Since then, Chicago has won every game, except a regular-season tie against Seattle, in route to their 2x defending Legends Cup Champion status. Every opponent has failed to stop their running game, as ChrisDell ‘Ferrari’ Harris has cemented her legacy and is well on her way to a having a hall of fame career.
Chicago has played to perfection this season as they have come out victorious in their two big match-ups against the Atlanta Steam. Both games were full of hype and many argued that Atlanta was the better team that just couldn’t finish against the Bliss. Now that the Bliss are 3-0, with two remaining games against Omaha and their final game this season against Atlanta at home, they are in the fast-lane to a regular-season Eastern Conference Championship. All Chicago needs to do is win one of their final three games and they clinch the East, as a Chicago 4-2 record would better an Atlanta 4-2 record, because of the head-to-head tie breaker.
The three game stretch for the Bliss did come with a costly loss, as corner-back Di’Andra Frye sustained an elbow injury in Chicago’s week 5 win against Atlanta. If an operation to repair her torn ligament is necessary, her presence in the secondary would be greatly missed the remainder of the season. Frye added great depth to the Bliss secondary as she helped out Dominique Collins and Kim Perez at the corner position. On the positive side, veteran Hallie Jiskra will be returning to the Bliss and playing center.
KEYS FOR CHICAGO
The Bliss will need to play smart football and take advantage of the fact that Omaha’s new acquisitions have not had much practice time together. Omaha’s timing offensively will not be perfect and Chicago will have some chances to take advantage and force some turnovers. With the dangerous arm that Anonka wields and her talented receivers, Heather Hudson and Jenna Holt, it will be important for safety tandem Heather Furr and Alli Alberts to keep the Heart receivers from getting behind them. This is an important game for Furr to work on her snaps and communication with Hallie Jiskra, especially in the shotgun formation.
To start the season, Omaha’s roster consisted of three returning players from the 2014 season, which head-coach Dontae Allen had described as a “fresh start”. Now, three games into the 2015 season, the roster includes five returning players from previous seasons, with the return of running-back SarahJane Thompson and center Sarah Robinson. Add in the acquisitions mentioned earlier in all-stars Heather Hudson, Anonka Dixon, and Leekplay Paye, and Omaha now has a respectable roster that gives the other Eastern Conference teams great competition. Coach Allen said on Tuesday morning, “Now this is a fresh-start and I’m excited about the talent we have, especially on the offensive side of the ball.” Allen went on to say, “We haven’t had these types of play-makers in Omaha ever.”
The strong Omaha Heart defense from a season ago was nowhere to be found in the first three games this year, but maybe Sarah Robinson or Leekplay Paye can provide the spark on the defensive line to get something going against the Bliss Saturday night. The defense will feature Shawntrielle Tilmon and Leekplay Paye at the end positons, and Sarah Robinson at nose-tackle. Rookie Jackie Hake who has played great defensively this season will start at the linebacker spot. And the trio in the secondary, as Omaha runs a three down-lineman defense, will be safety Amanda Hogan and corners Heather Hudson and Jenna Holt.
Offensively, Omaha looks strong as quarterback Anonka Dixon will take her snaps from veteran Sarah Robinson. Sarah Robinson will be surrounded by guard Shawntrielle Tilmon and tight-end Jackie Hake. Dixon’s starting weapons are running-back SarahJane Thompson and wide-receivers Heather Hudson and Jenna Holt. Omaha now has depth with wide-receiver Jessica Ripp who battled strong through injuries in her first three games, as Omaha relied heavily on her in all three of their games.
KEYS FOR OMAHA
Omaha’s newcomers will need to play a high-intensity game and give the rookie talent a sense of the energy and passion that is needed to be successful in the game of football. Offensively they will need to get a rhythm going and be confident with the playbook. Anonka Dixon will need to quickly gain chemistry with the weapons around her. Dixon has the needed weapons around her, but timing will be the key to a successful offense. The defensive line, lead by Leekplay Paye and Sarah Robinson will need to play aggressive and defend the Chicago running game successfully. If Omaha can hold Harris Saturday and get pressure on Furr, Omaha will have a great chance of keeping themselves in the game.
– Text by Colton Cull, originally posted on LFL360.com
Don't miss these two collide on Legends Football League Saturday, June 20, at 9/8c, only on Fuse.
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