The New Orleans VooDoo brings a losing record and no chance to go to the playoffs when it faces the San Antonio Talons at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Smoothie King Center.
For coach Pat O’Hara, however, his team still has something to play for in its final regular-season game.
“It hasn’t been as difficult as people might have imagined,” O’Hara said. “Our guys, they understand they’re not looking at a record, they’re looking at playing for a purpose. That purpose is the name on the back of their jersey, who they are as a man, as a football player and what you put on tape as your résumé for the future.”
The VooDoo (3-17) has been playing teams close in the last stretch of the season. Starting with the June 26, 62-56 loss against the Portland Thunder, no loss has been greater than six points. The stretch also includes a 36-35 win over the Jacksonville Sharks on July 12.
“I think it’s important to finish strong,” O’Hara said. “I think we’ve played pretty good football the last month here of the season. It not necessarily reflected in the record but if you really watch the tape and analyze it, we played pretty well the last month.”
A bright spot for the VooDoo is wide receiver Larry Beavers, who has amassed 2,116 all-purpose yards this season, which is the fourth highest team total for a season. His 1,126 yards in kick returns, is fifth in the Arena Football League.
“It gives a lot of motivation with the situation we’ve been having all season,” Beavers said. “My team, that we all worked together to accomplish that goal, it’s not just me. I did that with my teammates. It’s a big accomplishment for me because last year I didn’t really have too many yards. So that helped out a lot.”
The Talons (2-15) have also started playing their best football at the end of the season, and with their 72-65 win over the LA Kiss on July 19, snapped a franchise worst 10-game losing streak. Over the past two weeks, the Talons are converting 71 percent of their fourth-down attempts.
“They’re going to come in here, and we’re going to get their best effort,” O’Hara said. “They’re playing their best football of the year in the latter part of the season as well.”
Beavers said both are chasing the same short-term goals.
“This is our season right here, no matter what the record is,” he said. “We both were struggling at the beginning of the year. We’re both playing hard. They played hard the last two weeks .We’ve been playing hard the last two weeks. So I look at this, this is my season, this is the team’s season right here.”