by BJ Pickard
April 4, 2014, LOS ANGELES (ISN) – The LA KISS (1-1) will host the Portland Thunder (0-2) this Saturday, April 5 in “NET10 Wireless Arena Football Saturday” on CBS Sports Network. Kickoff from the Honda Center is set for 10:00 p.m. EST.
The contest, which features the AFL’s two first-year teams, will be the first home game in KISS franchise history and the first road game in the history of the Thunder. The only other time in AFL history a team from Portland has faced a team based in Anaheim was in 1997 when the Anaheim Piranhas defeated the Portland Forest Dragons, 57-48, at the Honda Center.
LA KISS Field – Photo by David Schenker
The KISS are led by veteran quarterback J.J. Raterink, who has passed for 436 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions this season. Six-foot-seven wide receiver Markee White leads the team with 14 receptions for 143 yards while his counterpart Donovan Morgan has hauled in a team-high four touchdown grabs on the year.
Portland has been guided by two rookie signal-callers in Darron Thomas and Nathan Enderle. Thomas, who starred locally at the University of Oregon in college, has completed 30-of-58 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions on the year, while Enderle has gone 16-for-34 for 195 yards and three scores with two picks. After starting the first two games of the season, Thomas appears poised for relief duty in Week 4 as Enderle looks to make his first career start. The team has also added veteran Danny Southwick for insurance. Whoever lines up behind center will have a talented trio of receivers to throw to, as Jeffrey Solomon, Justin Monahan and Duane Brooks have all tallied double-digit receptions on the season.
Defensively, the Thunder have already proven themselves to be a very opportunistic unit. Jack linebacker Bryce Peila has scored a defensive touchdown in each of his first two AFL games, while defensive back Eric Crocker came away with a pair of interceptions in Week 2. Meanwhile, the KISS defense is headlined by Mac linebacker Beau Bell, who earned Riddell Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 1 after tallying a League-high three sacks. Rookie defensive back Romeo Pellum leads the secondary with four pass breakups and an interception on the year.
Special teams ace Duane Brooks figures to be the Thunder’s “X-Factor” in the game. The second-year man leads the AFL with an average of 199.5 all-purpose yards per game. For the KISS, 2012 AFL Kicker of the Year Kenny Spencer could end up being a difference maker. Spencer connected on two field goals in the final minute of LA’s Week 1 victory over the San Antonio Talons, including the game-winning 35-yard try as time expired.
Kickoff for Saturday night’s historic contest is set for 10:00 p.m. EST on CBS Sports Network.