The disappointment express that is the Pittsburgh Power season continues to rumble down the tracks towards the end of the season.
The Power now sit at 3-11 on the season, and will try to end what is essentially an 8-game losing streak against the Iowa Barnstormers (5-9) Saturday night. Pittsburgh's only win in the last two months came via forfeit from the Cleveland Gladiators.
Iowa is experiencing their own disappointment this year. They may have contended in the American conference, but with the strong play of teams in San Jose, San Antonio, Arizona, Chicago and Spokane, they have no chance of making the playoffs this year. It's a shame because they possess some solid talent on their squad.
The two teams squared off earlier in the year in Pittsburgh, with the Barnstormers coming away with a 55-42 victory. The major plays in the Iowa victory were two net recovery touchdowns by linebacker John Mohring and two interceptions by Jason Simpson.
Quarterback J.J. Raterink, in his third season, ranks amongst the AFL's best in passing. He's thrown for 3919 yards, 73 TD's and 10 INT's this year, plus scrambled for 90 yards and 7 scores on the ground.
His favorite target, Jesse Schmidt, is tops in the AFl in rfeceptions and receiving yards, and ranks second in touchdowns. The only game this year in which he failed to score was that earlier meeting against Pittsburgh, so perhaps the Power have his number.
Pittsburgh quarterback Bryan Randall continues to have moments of greatness this year, but he's also had his share of struggles. The turnovers have come down in recent weeks, but the offense has stalled out a few more times than one would like. This might be attributed to the transition from Chris Siegfried's offense, over to Mike Tomczak via Derek Stingley.
The Power activated wide receiver A.J. Jackson for last weeks game against Philly and he responded with a pair of touchdowns. He could be another strong weapon for the Power offense to go along with Oderick Turner, Mike Washington and P.J. Berry. His emergence could signal a reduction in playing time for Randy Hymes.
Chris LeFlore hauled in his 8th interception of the season last week and remains one of the few bright spots on defense for the Power in 2012. Conversely, Bryan Williams still has zero interceptions this year, and ranks behind P.J. Berry (one interception) in that department.
The Barnstormers have a pair of dangerous defensive backs in Simpson and Cameron McGlenn, both of whom have six interceptions.
Neither team generates a lot of pressure via their defensive line, so both quarterbacks should have time to make their reads.
Overall as we look back at that first game for a blueprint for what to expect, I think a few bad bounces on kickoffs gave the Barnstormers the edge, although four interceptions by Andrico Hines didn't help the cause. I like Randall a lot better than Hines, and I think the Power have better depth at WR overall than just Schmidt and Marco Thomas (112 catches, 1241 yards, 15 TD's).
If Randall and company can continue their recent play with fewer turnovers I think they stand an excellent chance of bringing home a victory from Des Moines.
THE VOICE SAYS….Pittsburgh 58, Iowa 52