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Looking toward 1st playoff bid, Power finds the scent of success

| Sunday, July 6, 2014, 10:07 p.m.

Power defensive back Brandon Freeman admits he believes in superstitions.

If you want proof, stand next to him Monday night at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans where the Power (12-3) meet the VooDoo (2-12).

You'll get a whiff of the team's success.

Freeman hasn't washed his game pants since the week before the start of the Power's nine-game winning streak May 3, and he said he won't until their next loss.

“It's gross,” Power coach Ron James said, laughing. “I stand upwind from him.”

Power equipment manager Kevin Quinn sprays the pants with disinfectant and airs them out by placing them on the side-view mirror of the team's van.

“He always jokes he could stand them up by themselves,” Quinn said.

Freeman said his belief in good-luck charms extends to a Kit-Kat candy bar he has refused to eat since placing it in his duffel bag after the Power defeated the Cleveland Gladiators on May 31.

“After we win the Arena Bowl, I'm going to break it into tiny pieces and, like Jesus, feed the whole team,” Freeman said.

With a playoff berth assured, Power players openly talk about winning a championship. James tries to keep everyone grounded.

“Our meetings were all about retaining our focus and making sure we attack this game with the just due that it takes to win any football game at the professional level,” James said.

James was pleased with the 64-48 victory in Jacksonville last week but not with the 11 penalties totaling 136 yards.

“We played an undisciplined game,” he said.

The best news is the return of two injured veterans.

Defensive back/linebacker Latarrius Thomas (hand) played for the first time in almost three months, intercepting a pass in Jacksonville. Defensive back Virgil Gray (high ankle sprain) is expected to play Monday. He's been out since May 17, but he still shares the team interception lead with Freeman (eight).

“The defense has played well in his absence, but Virgil adds that leadership, that extra gear,” James said.

James sought similar energy and a passion for the game when he signed 31-year-old defensive lineman Maurice Fountain three weeks ago. After leaving Clemson in 2005, Fountain played in two indoor and three outdoor leagues, and he ruptured patella tendons in both knees in 2012 and 2013.

He was with James in Utah in 2008, but he did not play indoors again until joining the Power. He has shared a sack in two of three games.

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