By Matt Popchock
When the expansion Pittsburgh Power met the Cleveland Gladiators for the first time, that meeting followed a script familiar to football fans on both sides of the interstate. In a defensive struggle, the hosts in black and gold prevailed, 35-32, on June 4, 2011 to take over first place in the East Division.
That game represented the high-water mark for the Power in their inaugural Arena Football League season, and on July 15 their fortunes were drastically reversed. The Gladiators, back at home, won another tight one, 67-55, on July 15 to capture the division crown and knock the Power out of American Conference playoff contention.
Not quite as much is at stake when the Power (2-4) and the Gladiators (3-3) are reunited at CONSOL Energy Center Saturday at 7:30 P.M., but Power head coach Chris Siegfried doesn’t want his team to see it that way.
The second-year bench boss has had to deal with familiar issues regarding stability at QB and the general development of team chemistry as he tries to navigate the Power through an unexpectedly rocky start to 2012. They’re coming off a 51-48 loss in New Orleans in which VooDoo quarterback Kurt Rocco secured victory with a last-minute touchdown pass in a game controlled largely by the Power.
Fortunately for the Power’s sake, Rocco’s former team, the red-clad Gladiators, also ended last weekend red-faced. They’re trying to rebound from a last-minute loss of their own, a 54-49 setback at home against the league champion Jacksonville Sharks.
At his weekly press conference at the Marriott City Center adjacent to the arena Siegfried discussed the need for his team to approach every game with a sense of urgency going forward.
“If guys want to stay on this team, they need to perform their jobs,” he said. “We’ve challenged our guys to rise up to the occasion.”
You can hear Siegfried’s press conference in full tapestry by clicking on the link below.
(Follow the Power on Twitter @AFLPittsburgh.)
(Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)