The Legends Football League features another Saturday night match-up on July 18th, when the Omaha Heart head down to the ‘The Factory’ (Arena at Gwinnett Center) to face the Atlanta Steam. The Atlanta Steam, an Eastern Conference elite team, along with their ‘Young-Gun’ Quarterback Dakota Hughes, will welcome the struggling Omaha Heart, who are in search of their first win this season.
Despite the Eastern Conference playoff scenario being already set in stone, there is a lot for both teams to compete for this Saturday. The Atlanta Steam have this final regular season game, before they prepare for the August 15th playoff game against their adversary, the undefeated-Chicago Bliss. After two losses to the Bliss this season, Atlanta has yet to find an answer to stop or even slow down the Chicago running game, lead by ChrisDell Harris. While Omaha has not scored a point this season, they actually have a lot of talent on offense, that just needs to execute and get in a rhythm. The Heart running-back, Sarah-Jane Thompson is not the elite running-back ChrisDell Harris is, but she will certainly give the Steam defense a better look at the position than they have faced from Omaha this season. Omaha needs to play for their loyal ‘Heartland’ fans who have continued to show support through their ugly four games so far this season.
Omaha’s defense looked vastly improved against the Chicago Bliss on June 13th. They forced Chicago to turn the ball over on downs at times throughout the game, and if the Heart offense had not given up so many turnovers, the game would have been a lot closer due the the improved defense. Atlanta will certainly look at the film and see that the not so established passing attack of Chicago worked well against the Heart. Atlanta has one of the best passing games in the league, so expect them to rely on Dakota Hughes and her receivers to get the offense going. With the addition of defensive-end Leeplay Paye, look for Omaha to get pressure on Hughes.
With another month of practice since the acquisitions of the offense’s new play-makers, there is no reason the Omaha Heart shouldn’t score a touchdown against the Steam. Quarterback Anonka Dixon, despite her poor performance against the Bliss, is one of the most electric players this game has ever seen. With the talented running-back, Sarah-Jane Thompson and speedy wide-receiver, Heather Hudson, coach Dontae Allen has the offensive personnel to capitalize on a drive.
Turnovers and penalties have been the deterring factor for any opportunities the Heart have had in the red-zone this season. If players know their assignments and execute properly, then the talent of Omaha should be able to make plays against the Steam defense. The offensive line lead by the return of center Sarah Robinson will have their hands full against Atlanta’s physical defensive-ends Dina Wojowski and Keyon Harrison. Chicago’s offensive front has shown how to execute against Atlanta’s d-line, so there is plenty of film available for Omaha to study.
KEYS FOR OMAHA
Omaha needs to have a solid offensive attack that not only scores points, but can keep the opposing Atlanta Steam offense off the field. Giving the ball over to Atlanta on turnovers or on downs deep in their own territory will be costly as the Steam can strike quick. Defensively, Omaha will need to play physical, be well coached, and be in position to make plays. Their best opportunity to stopping the Steam’s scoring chances is to shut down the run game and minimize passing big plays.
Atlanta through four games this year has put up great offensive numbers against the dominant Bliss and lackluster Heart. With 702 yards of total offense, 325 against the defending 2x-championship Bliss, and a passing game that has averaged just over 100 yards per game, expect Hughes & Co. to add to those numbers in their last regular season game.
As the Steam prepare for the playoffs, their main focus should be on establishing a dominant defensive scheme against the run. The inability to stop Chicago’s ground game this season has been the deciding factor in their two losses to their rival Bliss. In games against Chicago, Atlanta has had some first-half success against Chicago’s offense, but in the fourth quarter ChrisDell ‘Ferrari’ Harris appears to run with ease against the Steam. Conditioning and endurance could be the key to improving their defense’s ability late in the games.
Leanne Hardin, who leads the league in tackles this season, averaging 6.4 tackles per game has improved a lot this year, and could be the deciding factor on defense to stop Chicago in the playoffs. This week against the Heart, the Steam defense has a great opportunity to face a talented running-back Sarah-Jane Thompson to sharpen their defense. Atlanta also fields some of the best defensive play-makers in the game with safeties Lauran Ziegler and Adrian Purnell, who have greatly improved the Steam defense this season.
KEYS FOR ATLANTA
Atlanta will need to show Omaha again that they are the better team by playing a hard-hitting and high-intensity game. Giving quarterback Dakota Hughes time to find her receivers will be key for the Steam offense as they have weapons all around her that can make big plays and gain yardage after the catch. Defensively they need to control the line-of-scrimmage and get pressure on quarterback Anonka Dixon, and find ways to force turnovers if the Heart fail to take care of the ball. This game is also a big test for their defense to stop the run as they prepare for the playoffs.
– Text by Colton Cull, originally posted on LFL360.com
Don't miss these two collide on Legends Football League Saturday, July 18, at 9/8c, only on Fuse.
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