The Los Angeles KISS and the Portland Steel enter Monday evening’s game with the same purpose: finish the season out strong with a win. The two squads will meet for a Week 18 battle at the Moda Center, with nearly nothing on the line.
Both the KISS and the Steel were expected to be cellar dwellers at the start of the season, but one of those teams has exceeded expectations. The KISS (7-8), clinched home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs last week.
Portland on the other hand may have even performed worse than expected. The Steel enter this contest with a record of 2-13, and they’ll either be the seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs. Portland will face the Arizona Rattlers in the first round.
Last week, the Steel were defeated by the Tampa Bay Storm, 41-40, and the KISS were downed by the Jacksonville Sharks, 46-32. The KISS and the Steel have met twice this season, and both times the KISS were victorious at the Honda Center.
LA defeated the Steel 66-27 in May, and they beat Portland in a much closer game, 54-42 just a few weeks later. The Steel were winless when Danny Southwick was the quarterback, but once Shane Austin took over the offense, the team played significantly better. They picked up two wins, against the Tampa Bay Storm and the Jacksonville Sharks.
Austin has played in 10 games for the Steel. He’s thrown for 2,324 yards and 44 touchdowns. Austin has completed 60.3% of his passes, and he’s compiled a quarterback rating of 87.2. Austin’s top target this season has been Tom Gilson, who’s caught 127 passes for 1,269 yards and 14 touchdowns. Another reliable target for Austin has been Jared Perry. Perry has caught 66 passes for 810 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Steel defense has been powered by Mike McMillan and Sergio Gilliam. The duo have combined for 100.5 tackles, and they’ve combined for four interceptions this season. The KISS have been fueled wide receiver Donovan Morgan.
Morgan has made the most of his final season in the league, as he’s caught 101 passes for 1,332 yards and 39 touchdowns. Morgan and quarterback Nathan Stanley have formed a connection this year, and that’s a big reason why Stanley has succeeded this season.
Stanley has thrown for 2,057 yards and 41 touchdowns, while completing 58.7% of his passes. The KISS defense has been led by Fredrick Obi, who leads the team in tackles (87.5), and in interceptions (5). The KISS will need to jump out to an early lead, while the Steel will need to pressure Nathan Stanley throughout the game.