New Orleans, LA - Saturday’s National Conference Game of the Week is one that has been highly anticipated around the league for a few months, once it was announced the Crescent City Kings would be coming over from the Gridiron Developmental Football League.
Expect there to be no love lost this weekend as the No. 5 Kings take on cross-town rival, the No. 4 Louisiana Lightning.
“Preparation for this game from the coaching staff is the same as any other opponent,” Kings owner Sherman Gilman told Developmental Football USA. “We instill the same formula that has brought the Kings great success the past four seasons. As for the players, their preparation intensifies mentally, understanding that this is not just another opponent and not just another game, so there is less jostling around as the mood becomes serious and their attention and focus to the task at hand becomes clearer.”
Focus is key for the Lightning as well as both coaching staffs look to keep their men harnessed and positioned for victory in what should be an emotional battle for many as several players have hopped between these two rosters over the off-season.
“Preparing for our rivalry game is not hard,” Lightning owner Mike Anderson told Developmental Football USA. “Us playing the Kings this early helps us with focus, but practice is not more intense. I think the focus on minimizing mistakes is more fine-tuned.”
While this is just Game 1 of what will be a long season, Saturday’s winner will have momentum in their favor moving forward and the loser - who will likely drop out of the Top 5 - will have to rebound.
“I think it would be a nice win, but it’s only one win,” Anderson said. “We aren’t just trying to be the best team in New Orleans, we are shooting for the championship. Each Saturday, I tell my guys we don’t have to be the best team in the league. On that day, we just have to be the best team on the field.”
Also having championship goals themselves, the Kings are keeping things into perspective: they certainly want the win, but it’s just one step towards bigger things.
“Honestly, for the players, it will have a brief sense of satisfaction and momentary bragging rights as our focus shifts to our next opponent,” Gilman said. “As for the coaches, it will only mean the first victory in a long season that will take a lot of big wins to achieve our ultimate goal - President’s Cup and National Champions.
Kings keys to the game:
1. Execute what you are taught at practice on both sides of the ball. 2. Stay smart, mentally focused and aggressive. 3. Last score is one point more than your opponent when the clock goes 00:00 in the fourth quarter.
Lightning keys to the game:
“I feel if we can win the battle in the trenches and we can make some big plays with our passing game, we will be in a good position to win. If it comes down to special teams, I think we can get it done too. Our kicker is money from about 40 yards in, we just have to minimize mistakes and keep our quarterback clean.”