Sports

L.A. KISS begins inaugural season with eye on championship

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The KISS' grand experiment to find acceptance in the Los Angeles market begins Saturday afternoon with a game in the Alamodome against the San Antonio Talons.

The game will not be televised locally, meaning the start to the team's inaugural Arena Football League season is more about the football than the hype.

KISS Coach Bob McMillen, the reigning league coach of the year, acknowledged his role in the selling of this team.

"I've been given the task to build this team into a champion, and we don't look at it as an expansion team," McMillen said this week. "We look at it as a team that's going to compete for a championship the first year we do this."

Despite the newness, McMillen was in midseason form on the coach-speak.

"You can't win championships unless you win Game 1," he said. "Our expectation right now is to go out there and be competitive in Game 1 and hopefully come back from San Antonio with a victory."

The team plays two games on the road before its home opener April 5 at the Honda Center.

The KISS quarterback will be J.J. Raterink, who played for McMillen in 2011 with the Chicago Rush. McMillen faced a similar situation that year with a group of players who were unfamiliar with one another yet led the team to the conference championship before losing.

"They've put together a nice group of veterans and very talented rookies," Raterink said. "Really there's no excuse for us not to compete right away."

The KISS suffered a setback when Colt Brennan, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist from Hawaii, was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and released. He was expected to compete with Raterink for the starting quarterback job.

Raterink is a four-year veteran who had a breakout season with Iowa in 2012 throwing for 4,870 yards, 93 touchdowns with only nine passes intercepted.

His principal target will probably be Donovan Morgan, who was acquired from the New Orleans Voodoo in a trade.

"I think they put a great team together and I think this year is going to be a surprise for a lot of people," Morgan said. "They just think it's about the rock band ... but it's going to be about these players and us getting a championship here in L.A."

The Talons were 10-8 last year and missed the playoffs.

L.A. KISS SCHEDULE

When | Opponent | Time

All times Pacific

Saturday | at San Antonio | 5

March 21 | at Orlando |  4:30

April 5 | Portland | 6:30

April 12 | Cleveland | 7

April 19 | at Iowa | 5

April 26 | San Jose | 7

May 4 | Spokane | 4

May 10 | at Cleveland | 4

May 17 | at Pittsburgh | 2

May 25 | Arizona |5

June 7 | at San Jose | 7:30

June 14 | Portland | 7

June 21 | at Arizona | 6

June 28 | Spokane | 7

July 6 | San Jose | 5

July 12 | at Portland | 7:30

July 19 | San Antonio | 7

July 26 | at Jacksonville | 4

james.barragan@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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