Share This Page

Power fight urge to look ahead with playoffs looming

| Friday, July 25, 2014, 11:01 p.m.

The season has been so successful for Power coach Ron James that even when he makes an off-the-field decision, it works in his favor.

At the beginning of the Power's off week July 13, James was faced with free time. It is customary in the Arena Football League for a team that doesn't have a game at the end of the week not to practice.

So James decided to prepare on his own for the playoffs, which begin for the Power on Aug. 3 in Orlando. At the time, the Predators and the Tampa Bay Storm were contending for the American Conference South championship and the right to meet the Power — the No. 3 seed — in the first round.

James chose to ignore the Storm's game tapes and instead watched those of the Predators. A few days later, the Predatars clinched the division title. Time well spent, coach.

“I played the percentages,” he said.

Predators work got shelved this week, however, when Power players and coaches readied themselves for their final regular-season game against the Philadelphia Soul at 5 p.m. Saturday at Consol Energy Center. The game is the Power's first at home in 35 days.

The stakes are higher for the Soul (9-8), who can clinch the fourth and final American Conference playoff berth with a victory. They will miss the postseason with a loss and a Tampa Bay victory over Cleveland.

The Power are 2-0 against the Soul, but Philadelphia scored 113 points, averaging about 12 more than what the Power allowed overall.

The Soul have made steady improvement since back-to-back, one-point losses to Pittsburgh and Cleveland last month. They beat Iowa, 84-48, and then their defense was dominant in beating division champions Orlando, 42-35, and San Jose, 42-20.

“They have been in that playoff mode the last couple weeks,” James said. “We expect their ‘A' game, and we have to produce likewise.”

Yet James must be careful. He wants to maintain momentum generated by the Power's 11-game winning streak but not at the expense of further injury. Defensive back Virgil Gray is back after missing two months with a high ankle sprain, and he returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown last week against Iowa. But wide receiver Tyrone Goard remains hobbled by a knee injury and probably won't play.

“Anytime you play Philadelphia, it's going to be a good game,” James said, “but we know what is ahead of us. We are trying to walk that fine balance to go into the playoff game healthy.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.