PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Chris Siegfried has not talked to many people in Pittsburgh who are friendly with sports fans in Cleveland.
And the Pittsburgh Power head coach doesn’t expect that to get any better Saturday at 7:30 p.m. as the Cleveland Gladiators and Power fight for first place in the East Division at the CONSOL Energy Center.
“It seems to be a good rivalry in every sport, and we don’t want to disappoint the fans of Pittsburgh,” Siegfried said in a pre-game press meeting on Thursday. “We want to make sure that everybody here knows we don’t like Cleveland sports. We like Cleveland people. We don’t like Cleveland sports.”
The Power (6-4) will enter Saturday’s contest with momentum after a thrilling 76-75 victory at Dallas on May 28, extending Pittsburgh’s winning streak to three games.
Siegfried calls the game against Cleveland “a must-win” with the division up for grabs, and hopes 12,000 to 13,000 fans show up. The Power head coach also said there is a good chance there will be three teams that make the playoffs from the Southern Division.
Eight teams qualify for the playoffs, consisting of four from each conference, the American and National. The Power competes in the American Conference along with Cleveland, Philadelphia and Milwaukee.
What does all this mean for the Power?
“We feel we have to win our division to be in the playoffs,” Siegfried said.
A crucial piece to winning this weekend is Power quarterback Bernard Morris. The Power has averaged 58 points per game in the games when Morris played.
Siegfried said the Power plays hard-nosed, tough football, and Morris is “case and point.”
“My hats off to Bernard Morris,” Siegfried said. “He kind of took the leadership role the last couple of weeks and each game he kind of struggled a little bit in the first half. It’s almost like once he gets warmed up, he’s hard to stop. The second halves of these last three games, he’s been pretty on fire.”
Siegfried said his team has played solid football during the second half in just about every game and is hoping that continues in the second half of the season.
Cleveland holds the third-best pass defense in the Arena Football League (AFL), along with the seventh best rushing defense, but even with the Gladiators strong defense, Siegfried said he will not run his offense differently, and they prepare for each team the same.
“They play a lot of different coverages,” Siegfried said. “More coverages then I’ve seen this year. We just got to adapt to it.”
Siegfried believes his defense has been pretty solid all year long. The Power ranks sixth in the league in pass defense.
Before taking the Pittsburgh Power head coach position, Siegfried was the offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Sharks, an AFL team in the American Conference South Division. Even despite the Power just beginning AFL play this season, Siegfried already understands the Pittsburgh, Cleveland rivalry, and said Saturday night’s contest should be a good game.
“It’s Cleveland, so even if we’re both 0 and whatever, it’s still a huge game,” he said.