Strong season for Chicago Bliss culminates in second straight indoor football championship

For the second consecutive season, the Chicago Bliss held off pressure from Western Conference rivals Los Angeles and Seattle to finish in the championship picture. With 2013 Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia having folded in the off-season, a new opponent would rise to challenge the Bliss for indoor football supremacy.

Led by multi-sport star Jodie Nettles and rookie quarterback Dakota Hughes, the Atlanta Steam would grab the Eastern Conference crown in only their second season. In addition, head coach Dane Robinson would earn Coach of the Year honors. Defeating an ambitious Jacksonville squad led by two-way threat Saige Steinmetz, the Steam were hoping to complete their dream season by overcoming the defending league champs.

Once again, Heather Furr established herself as the heartbeat of the club. Known affectionately as Rockstar, her poise relieved the burden of pressure that accompanies high expectations. Complemented by the veteran presence of Chris’Dell Harris on the Bliss’ offensive attack and Kim Perez anchoring the defense, their 5-0-1 mark paced all teams in female indoor football.

Quarterback Heather Furr proudly shows off the Legends Cup in center field of Chicago's famous Wrigley Field (Image obtained from Facebook)

Quarterback Heather Furr proudly shows off the Legends Cup in center field of Chicago’s famous Wrigley Field (Image obtained from Facebook)

Of note, Harris finished as the league’s rushing and receiving champion. Her 621 rushing yards was more than double the amount of yards accumulated by runner-up Saige Steinmetz (who ran for 305 yards). Leading all Bliss players with eight touchdowns (four receiving and four rushing), she was a key reason that the club outscored opponents by an average of 30.3 to 18.3 points. In addition, the club posted impressive marks of 63% on third down conversions, followed by a remarkable 86% conversion on fourth down.

By season’s end, Bliss players finished in the top five of all six major statistical categories (passing, rushing, receiving, tackles, sacks, interceptions). Despite the Bliss adopting more of a rushing game, Heather Furr finished as the third-ranked passer in the league.

Kim Perez, who tied with teammate Yahshi Rice for the league lead in sacks (Chantel Taylor would rank fourth), also finished second in league play with three interceptions. Atop the leader board in tackles was Dominique Collins, recording 29.5 tackles. Not far behind was Rice, ranking third in tackles.

The road to the championship began with a May 9 match against Los Angeles, one of the first dynasties in indoor female football. A 25-21 win on home soil was followed by a rare occurrence. Hosting the Seattle Mist, another title contender, the contest ended in a 34-34 draw.

Travelling to Las Vegas for the third match of the season, the Bliss managed to overcome rookie sensation Sindy Cummings and prevailed with a hard-fought 27-18 victory. This was followed by the renewal of their storied rivalry with the Green Bay Chill on July 23.

Unfortunately, the rivalry lost a distinct feeling with the absence of quarterback Anne Erler. As a side note, Erler and Furr were teammates on the Saskatoon Sirens. Competing against another rookie quarterback, the Bliss made a strong statement, emerging victorious in a convincing 32-7 win.

After a 3-0-1 regular season, the Bliss travelled to Ontario, California for the Western Conference title game against Los Angeles. With LA looking for their fourth title in franchise history, they were hoping that home field advantage would work in their favor. After defeating their rivals, the Seattle Mist, they were not able to overcome a well-rested Bliss team. A 40-12 victory for Chicago was a victory worthy of their status as an elite club.

Returning to Ontario for the championship game against Atlanta on September 6, it would prove to be a hard-fought match. Only holding a two-point advantage at halftime with an 8-6 lead, Chicago would manage to hold on for a nail-biting 24-18 tally after four quarters of play. While the Steam played valiantly, they managed to earn the respect of fans and foes alike, a significant accomplishment.

The second straight title solidifies Furr’s legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in female indoor football. It was no surprise that she was one of four finalists for the inaugural indoor female football Hall of Fame. Along with the impact of the Chicago Force in the Women’s Football Alliance, the Bliss have contributed to a remarkable period of female football in the Windy City, which may be unrivaled for years to come.

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