NEW ORLEANS — Donovan Morgan played in ArenaBowl XXV last season with the Philadelphia Soul.
Now, Morgan thinks he can return to the championship game with his new team — and maybe this time, win it.
Morgan, a former standout at Reed, said Tuesday afternoon that he has seen enough potential with the VooDoo during training camp to give them a chance to reach Arena Football’s biggest game for the first time in franchise history.
The VooDoo opens the regular season March 24 against Orlando at the New Orleans Arena.
“If I see the things I know I see with this team, being a great football team, I’m thinking it’s Arena Bowl,” Morgan said during Tuesday’s Media Day at Tad Gormley Stadium.
“Not just playoffs.”
Head coach Pat O’Hara was more guarded about a potential playoff run, as the VooDoo wrap up its first week of training camp. The team’s only game action occurred in a 45-29 preseason loss at San Antonio on March 6.
“You have to have some breaks along the way,” O’Hara said. “You have to be healthy. We have to have solid play. We’re not there yet.
“We still have a lot of work to do this week and next week, but we’re all optimistic at this point. Crazy things happen, so we have to be ready to face those challenges and adversity.”
If the VooDoo reaches the playoffs, Morgan will likely be a major contributor.
Last season, he was a vital part of Philadelphia’s top-rated offense with 79 catches for 1,020 yards. He also averaged more than two touchdowns per game (14.7) over 11 games, ranking ninth in the AFL.
During the offseason, Morgan, who also played college football at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Pearl River Community College, was granted a trade to his hometown team, and has already become a favorite target of quarterback Kurt Rocco.
Reaching ArenaBowl XXVI would mark a significant change for the VooDoo. Last season, the VooDoo lost its final three games, losing a chance to win a South Division title, as well as momentum heading into the postseason, just their second playoff appearance.
Once there, they lost 66-53 to Morgan’s top-seeded Soul in the first round. While the VooDoo enjoyed plenty of positives last season — one year earlier, they finished with a league-worst 3-15 record — last season’s poor finish doomed a playoff run.
Quarterback Kurt Rocco isn’t sure why the VooDoo struggled late in 2012 — from inexperience and tired legs to execution or preparation.
Whatever the reasons, Rocco doesn’t plan on repeating them. After all, he agreed with Morgan’s prediction.
“I think as long as I stay composed, continue to grow as a leader, work on the stuff I know I need to work on — I know I need to work on a lot of things — I think I can take us back to the playoffs again, for sure,” said Rocco, who passed for 3,834 yards, 72 TDs and 14 interceptions last season.
“That’s our first, second, third, fourth goal. It starts with Orlando.”