This Saturday, the Legends Football League playoffs will begin with two Western Conference elite, in what is perhaps the leagues most fierce and balanced rivalry. Prepare for a west coast war as the Los Angeles Temptation and Seattle Mist are set to collide. The Temptation lead by Tui Suiaunoa and David Bizub have been to the biggest of stages and they have the championships to prove it, while Chris Michaelson and his Seattle Mist are in search of their first Legends Cup appearance.
This 2015 season featured three duels between the Temptation and Mist, with the first two contests featuring one-point margins of victory, with each team stealing a win on the road. The last matchup was a promising win for Seattle when they sent a depleted LA team back to Southern California. With two healthy lineups full of talent, experience, and passion, there is no doubt the fourth pairing between the two will be one of the most exciting playoff games in LFL history. This game also marks the 10th time in regular season and playoff history that the two franchises have competed against another, with LA (5) leading the series over Seattle (4) by one game.
LOS ANGELES TEMPTATION
Los Angeles is no stranger to the spotlight. As a franchise, the Temptation are 6-2 all-time in the playoffs and have three Legends Cup titles. However, LA has not won a playoff game since 2012 when they won their third consecutive Legends Cup Championship on February 5th, defeating the Philadelphia Passion 28-6. Many of the players on their roster have the kind of experience that is an absolute must when fighting for the opportunity to play for another championship. With Salerno at starting quarterback, LA is 2-0 this season and her return could be just what LA needs to get past Seattle.
Running Back Carmen Bourseau averages nearly 6 yards-per-carry and with 4 touchdowns to her credit, she’s been able to loosen defenses up enough to allow Los Angeles’ quarterbacks time to find an open receiver. Bourseau is tough to bring down and welcomes the big hit. She personifies what this team is about and how they’ve managed to stay remain a playoff contender every season. The Temptation are a team of smashmouth players in every sense of the word.
Look no further than the Temptation’s defense if you want an example of how the game of football should be played. Up front, their defense is comprised of sure tackling and hard hitting, while their linebacker Monique Gaxiola only solidifies the reputation of fear that accompanies the silver and black. Danielle Harvey has accounted for 26.5 tackles and a sack this season, which has led this squad of blue-collar defensive players. The Temptation’s secondary is another story. They’re considered weak against the pass at times, which could prove disasterous against the Seattle Mist and their emerging hero gunslinger. Ogom Chijindu and Chelsey Haardt will have their work cut out for them on Saturday and look for the cornerback tandem to play very physical against the Mist receiving corps.
KEY FOR LOS ANGELES
KK Matheny & Co. isn’t just coming to win this football game, she’s coming to embarrass her rivals and put an end to their season. The Los Angeles Temptation need to find a way to cover Seattle’s receivers. They cannot allow the Mist to air it out in the fashion they have done in the second half of the season. Their defensive front will need to get into Matheny’s face and make her uncomfortable, while making sure they continue to tackle well. Establishing a running game early should help Salerno, giving her enough time to use her big arm to beat the Seattle Mist.
Though they are certainly an experienced franchise, the Seattle Mist is yet to win a playoff game in search of the Legends Cup. The only Seattle highlight in post season fashion came against the Temptation in the second Pacific Cup in December of 2013. Coach Michaelson looks to change that this season with his no-nonsense approach. This team is filled with talent, coached well and is peaking at the perfect time for a potential championship run. The Mist truly believe that they are now the talent of the West.
Much of that belief stems from the never-die attitude of quarterback KK Matheny. Michaelson might have had the best off-season of player acquisitions any franchise has ever had, after signing Matheny, Danika Brace, and Bryn Renda. Fans have watched Matheny scramble under pressure, only to buy herself enough time to deliver deep touchdown strikes, which is the mark of any great quarterback. Her stellar play at the position has earned her a finalist’s spot in the MVP voting and more importantly, the respect of her teammates and fans throughout the city of Seattle.
Danika Brace is also up for consideration for the LFL’s MVP award, and rightfully so. She’s rushed for 1 touchdown, caught 3 more and added 26.5 tackles on defense, 7 of which were for a loss. Helping make Seattle’s defense what it is, Danielle Harvey brings 26.5 tackles and 2 interceptions to the table. Combined with the strong legs of Running Back Stevi Schnooer, who averaged 5.7 yards per carry this season with 3 touchdowns, the Seattle Mist have fans truly believing that they are the league’s next great franchise. The Mist literally have weapons all over the field and they’ll have their chance to prove themselves against a Los Angeles team that has history on its side.
KEY FOR SEATTLE
The Mist will need to prevent Ashley Salerno from making plays with her feet if the pass isn’t there. Containing her in the pocket should be considered a top-priority. Seattle will also need to find a way to prevent LA’s tight end release, which the Temptation have used most in scoring against the Mist during their previous affairs. Offensively, the Mist need to keep Matheny upright with solid line play. While she can make spectacular plays under pressure, Matheny won’t be able to win an entire game operating the offense from the backs of her heels. She’ll need enough blocking up front to find time to connect with her weapons downfield. Getting off to a good start of running the ball with their depth at the position and establishing a solid ground game should help. If Matheny is able to get the ball to Bryn Renda, Thresea Pertruziolo, and Jessica Hopkins, their chances of winning will greatly increase.
– Text by John M. Davis, originally posted on LFL360.com
Don't miss these two collide on Legends Football League Saturday, August 22, at 9/8c, only on Fuse.
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