Exciting rebuild for Los Angeles Temptation

After a visceral fourth quarter in the 2015 Western Conference championship game, one in which the Seattle Mist emerged victorious in an intense see-saw battle that saw the lead change hands several times, it seemed like the beginning of a downward spiral for the Los Angeles Temptation. With quarterback Ashley Salerno suffering an injury in 2015, and her decision to not return for 2016, it was definitely the end of an era for the silver and black.

Despite such setbacks, the Temptation have shown resolve, managing to overcome their quarterback deficiencies and remain in the conversation for the Western Conference title. With head coach Tui Suiaunoa leading the way; its roster may prove to be even stronger than the ultra competitive squad that nearly captured the 2015 conference crown.

Cynthia Schmidt hoping for big things with Los Angeles Temptation (Image obtained from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LATemptation/)

Cynthia Schmidt hoping for big things with Los Angeles Temptation (Image obtained from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LATemptation/)

In the aftermath of the Las Vegas Sin ceasing operations, a remarkable number of players became available. Among them, the Temptation found solid leadership and proven performers in the likes of Cynthia Schmidt and Kelly Campbell, who will be entering her seventh season of football. Both prominent at the defensive back position, they should solidify a defensive backfield that will need to find ways to nullify the Mist’s passing attack. An added bonus is the fact that Schmidt is one of the league’s most popular players, an ambassador for the brand.

There will be also changes as the Temptation and Steam see an exchange of players. Amanda Ruller, who actually won a vehicle on The Price is Right while she was a player for the Temptation, is among one of the new faces in Atlanta. Despite losing a player with All-Fantasy potential, the consolation comes in the form of significant depth.

Jayne Caldwell, who established herself as an elite signal caller in her native Australia, will now battle for the starting quarterback job with Michelle Angel, who filled in admirably for Salerno during her recovery from injury. Another player from Atlanta will make her presence felt in the backfield as well. Running back Nas Johnson provides the Temptation with another power back possessing tremendous acceleration and cutback ability, ready to bolt out of the backfield and punish opposing defenses.

While Carmen Bourseau, known affectionately as the F-150, deserves to be the starting running back for the Temptation, a role she has held for several seasons, the addition of Johnson alleviates the load of having to carry the running game by herself. Taking into account that Danika Brace, a former teammate of Bourseau when the two played for the Las Vegas Sin, is returning to the defending champion Seattle Mist, two running backs may serve as the key to overpowering the dominant Mist defense. Such strategy will be put to the test on April 24 as the Temptation host the Mist in their home opener.

On the topic of the Mist, the Temptation may have altered the balance of power in the Western Conference for many seasons to come with the acquisition of Kadi Findling. Having graced the gridiron with the Mist in her rookie season, Findling quickly made an impression. Earning Western Conference All-Fantasy honors (as a rookie no less), she joined a group of fellow Fantasy selections to compete in an All-Star Game in Guatemala.

Although Findling was considered a quarterback of the future for the Seattle Mist, she showed tremendous proficiency at the defensive back position. Such versatility makes Findling an important part of the Temptation’s plans to return to glory, seeking an elusive championship.

Despite an injury shelving her for a few weeks, Findling already brought excitement as she was also competing for the quarterback position in Los Angeles, in which one could make instant comparisons to Heather Furr. One of the greatest players in the history of the Chicago Bliss, Furr had that rare athletic gift to excel at both the demanding quarterback slot while making a significant impact at the defensive back position. Should Findling match Furr’s success, she may be destined to follow Salerno’s legacy and usher in a new glorious era for the silver and black.

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Queensland Brigade players venture into Deep South in order to improve their game

As the Legends Football League enters the 2014 season in the United States, a pair of players from Australia will be exposed to the on-field product. Jayne Caldwell and Tai Emery competed in the inaugural season of LFL Australia in late 2013 and will be the guests of the Atlanta Steam, a second-year franchise based in the Southern US.

Caldwell served as the starting quarterback for the Queensland Brigade while Emery competed on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Both are not only impromptu ambassadors for their respective league, but are making the journey to the South in order to improve their game.

With ambitions of becoming a global brand, the LFL is hoping the exposure of its Aussie players to the US will bear fruit. Eventually, the LFL is aiming for a World Cup event, in which champions from LFL US, Canada, Australia and Europe would compete in a playoff.

In a season that saw the Brigade finish with a .500 record, their first two games were blowout losses. Of note, the second game was a 41-0 whitewash which was subject to a significant amount of criticism, especially towards Caldwell, who struggled in the passing game with a chronic series of interceptions.

Based on the online criticism that Caldwell and her Queensland teammates received after that second consecutive loss, the initiative to bring them to Atlanta and expose them to another aspect of the league was well conceived. Unfortunately, the criticism concerning the team’s performance was somewhat uncalled for.

Comments such as missed practice time, not being in shape and lacking discipline with no leadership were out of line. With due deference, such comments should never have been published. Considering that players are not compensated for their efforts, balancing career, personal lives and athletic duties are not so easy.

As this was a new sport to all the participants on Queensland and throughout the rest of the Australian league, this was not an appropriate criticism for players who are not compensated. Should there be goals to expand rosters or add more teams, this may discourage potential competitors.

While Caldwell and Emery have not been deterred, their journey to the US is one that shows a willingness to learn. Steam head coach Dane Robinson, serving in his first season at the helm, shall be the liaison for the franchise. Practices and conditioning under his leadership shall be observed by Caldwell and Emery, with the hopes that it will promote a better preparation for the next Australian campaign.

Ironically, Caldwell may be of some assistance to the Steam. Robinson is not the only “rookie” in a key position with the Steam. His quarterback, Dakota Hughes is only 19 years old and she has the pressure of helping the Steam repeat as Southeast Division champions.

With the Steam opening their second season on the road against the Toledo Crush, having relocated from Cleveland, the contest shall prove to be a key test for Hughes. Considering that Caldwell has endured high pressure situations lining up behind centre with Queensland, she may be able to relate some of her experiences to Hughes.

As the program of visiting LFL US franchises may be an excellent concept to consider with future competitors in LFL Europe, it is essential to prevent what occurred in Australia with Queensland’s struggles. Upon reflection, it may have been wiser to have Australian players brought to the United States before regular season games were even played down under. Those involved must understand that growing pains and the patience to deal with them shall be essential in hoping to achieve any global ambitions.

#2014-lfl-season, #atlanta-steam, #jayne-caldwell, #queensland-brigade, #tai-emery