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Shout it out loud: Power prepare to play LA KISS

Jerry DiPaola
| Friday, May 16, 2014, 10:52 p.m.
The Power's Tommy Taggert stiff-arms the Soul's Fred Shaw and picks up a first down as time during a 65-57 victory Saturday, May 3, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
The Power's Tommy Taggert stiff-arms the Soul's Fred Shaw and picks up a first down as time during a 65-57 victory Saturday, May 3, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Power coach Ron James during a game against the Soul on Saturday, May 3, 2014, at the Consol Energy Center.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Power coach Ron James during a game against the Soul on Saturday, May 3, 2014, at the Consol Energy Center.

The Arena Football League coaches' poll is more of a source of amusement to the Power's Ron James than an irritant.

After all, he said he doesn't vote in the poll, even though he coaches one of the best teams in the league.

“I never see that information from the league (to cast his votes),” he said. “Obviously, they don't feel I'm that important out here. That's fine.”

AFL director of communications B.J. Pickard is puzzled by James' assertion, saying, “He absolutely has a vote. Every team is sent a ballot every week and required to participate.”

Whether his ballot is getting lost in the mail is of little import to James, who said coaches aren't permitted to vote for their teams, anyway. The Power were ranked No. 5 this week, behind teams they have defeated (No. 3 San Jose and No. 4 Spokane), but James simply shrugged his shoulders and went back to work.

“We don't get a lot of respect around the league,” he said of the Power, winners of two in a row and holding a 5-3 record entering their game Saturday night against the LA KISS at Consol Energy Center. “We won't until we string together some wins and make a run at something significant.

“Let them rank us where they want to rank us. Polls are nice for fans to talk about. They're nice for players to view, but for coaches they don't mean anything. It's about the work and the process and we are very much a work in progress.”

If the Power can eliminate their problems and beat the KISS (2-6), they will be 6-3 at the halfway point of the season for the first time in the franchise's four-year existence.

James said the team must improve upon its poor effort last week in a 52-41 victory at Spokane.

Noting that Veteran's Arena in Spokane is one of the toughest venues for visiting teams, James refused to accept that as an excuse.

“I thought our first half offensively was very sloppy, we played uninspired football for the first two quarters of the game and we turned the ball over twice in the second half,” he said. “The score in Spokane shouldn't have been as close as it was. I really believe our team got a wake-up call.”

The KISS got a wake-up call, too.

An expansion franchise co-owned by legendary rock artist Gene Simmons, the KISS entertain their home fans with caged pole dancers and players entering the field on elevator platforms. But after a 2-1 start, they lost five in a row.

That prompted a trade this week with Jacksonville that brought 43-year-old quarterback Aaron Garcia to an LA offense that scored 21 points against Spokane and 12 at Iowa.

Garcia has thrown for 60,471 yards and 1,310 touchdowns in a 19-year career and two years ago was named the No. 3 greatest AFL player of all time. But he was a backup in Jacksonville.

“He's been around almost since the (league) started,” James said. “You are not going to fool him with anything. He knows the game better than most coaches. It's just a matter of how effective he is going to be when he arrives with a new team.”

The KISS remain dangerous under 2013 AFL Coach of the Year Bob McMillen, who led the Chicago Rush into last year's playoffs despite shaky ownership.

Last week, the KISS lost at undefeated Cleveland, 45-42, on a walk-off field goal. This will be the KISS' second east coast trip in eight days.

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