Tampa Bay Storm game notes
TAMPA BAY STORM (2-0)
ORLANDO PREDATORS (2-0)
February 11, 2005 7:30 pm Sun Sports
TD Waterhouse Centre (13,692)
STORM TRAVEL TO ORLANDO FOR GRUDGE MATCH WITH PREDATORS
The Tampa Bay Storm and Orlando Predators resume the War on I-4 Friday night when the Storm travel up Interstate 4 for a date with their arch rivals. The series is the longest-running series in the AFL, as Friday nights contest will mark the 36th time the teams have tangled. The Storm and Predators match-up features the only 2-0 teams in the AFL, with the winner claiming the early Southern Division lead. Tampa Bay has dominated the rivalry as of late. The Storm have won the last four meetings between the teams, a streak that dates back to the 2003 season. Orlando will be in the friendly confines of the TD Waterhouse Centre, affectionately known as The Jungle, where it is 9-8 all-time against Tampa Bay.
TAMPA BAY IMPROVES TO 2-0 WITH WIN OVER WRANGLERS
The Tampa Bay Storm improved to 2-0 for the first time since the 2001 season after defeating the Austin Wranglers 62-45 last Sunday afternoon. The Storm were paced by another strong performance from quarterback Shane Stafford. Stafford, who entered the game as the reigning AFL Offensive Player of the Week, completed 20-of-30 passes for 278 yards and seven touchdowns,. He also rushed for another score. Clif Dell, filling in at offensive specialist for the injured Freddie Solomon, caught a career-high four touchdown passes in the game. He finished with six catches for 68 yards. Lawrence Samuels was Tampa Bays leading receiver in the game, hauling in seven passes fro 139 yards and a touchdown. The Storm defense recorded seven stops for the second straight week. Two of those stops came on Jonathan Ordway interceptions. Ordway returned one of those interceptions 49 yards for a touchdown, tying the team record for the longest interception return.
Overall record: Tampa Bay leads,
Regular Season: Tampa Bay leads, 15-13
Playoffs: Orlando leads, 4-3
Last Meeting: Tampa Bay won 63-58 (at Orlando, May 2, 2004)
RADIO 620 AM WDAE
Jack Harris, play-by-play
Jason Dixon, analyst
TV -- Sun Sports
Rick Peckham, play-by-play
James Bates, analyst
2005 STORM SCHEDULE/RESULTS
DATE OPPONENT RESULT
Jan. 30 San Jose SaberCats W, 63-33
Feb. 6 Austin Wranglers W, 62-45
Feb. 11 at Orlando Predators 7:30 pm
Feb. 25 at New Orleans VooDoo 8:00 pm
Mar. 6 Grand Rapids Rampage 1:00 pm
Mar. 13 Arizona Rattlers 12:00 pm
Mar. 20 at Philadelphia Soul 12:00 pm
Mar. 26 at Los Angeles Avengers 10:30 pm
April 2 Georgia Force 7:30 pm
April 9 Orlando Predators 7:30 pm
April 17 at Austin Wranglers 1:00 pm
April 24 at Nashville Kats 1:00 pm
April 30 New Orleans VooDoo 7:30 pm
May 8 at Georgia Force 1:00 pm
May 15 New York Dragons 1:00 pm
May 22 at Columbus Destroyers 3:00 pm
All times Eastern and subject to change
Tampa Bay Storm WR/DB Clif Dell filled in for injured Storm offensive specialist Freddie Solomon last week against Austin, and the Storm offense did not miss a beat. Dell caught six passes for 68 yards. Four of those six receptions were touchdown catches, a career-high for Dell.
After two games, Dell is the Storms leading scorer with 36 points. Six of his nine catches this season have gone for touchdowns, giving him an unbelievable average of one touchdown for every 1.5 catches.
Dell, in his third season with the Storm, has twice filled in for Solomon at the OS position, and both times he has been impressive. The other time came last season at Carolina when he also hauled in six passes for 115 yards and three touchdowns.
TWICE AS NICE
Tampa Bay defensive specialist Jonathan Ordway collected a pair of interceptions against Austin, tripling his career interceptions total. Ordway entered the game with just one career interception and became the second Storm player this season to record two interceptions in a game. Lawrence Samuels turned the feat in Week 1 against San Jose.
Ordway finished the game with 5.5 tackles and two pass breakups to go along with his two interceptions. For his efforts he was named the ADT Defensive Player of the Game on Sunday. Then on Tuesday, Ordway was honored by the Arena Football League as the ADT Defensive Player of the Week. It was the first AFL weekly award earned by Ordway in his career and marked the second straight week that a Storm player earned an AFL weekly award. Quarterback Shane Stafford was named the Offensive Player of the Week by the AFL following his Week 1 performance against San Jose.
Ordways first interception of the game will be one that he will certainly remember for a long time. He returned it 49 yards for a touchdown, recording his first career interception return for a touchdown. The 49-yard return tied the Storm record for the longest interception return in team history, matching efforts by Tracey Perkins and Clinton Hart. Prior to Ordway, Hart was the last Storm player to record a 49-yard interception return. He did it on May 4, 2001, at Milwaukee.
The Tampa Bay Storm once again topped to 60-point plateau in their game against Austin. It marked the second straight week that Tampa Bay scored more than 60 points and also upped the teams all-time record to 43-1 when scoring at least 60 points in a game.
The Storm have started off the 2005 season with an explosive offensive outburst. In 14 prior season, Tampa Bay never scored 60+ points in each of the first two games of a season. In 2004 it took Tampa Bay until Week 13 to record its second 60+ point output of the year (the first came in Week 2 vs Georgia when the Storm scored 62 points and lost, marking the only time in team history that Tampa Bay has lost when scoring at least 60 points in a game).
The Tampa Bay Storm offense has certainly been impressive in the first two weeks of the season. The Storm lead the league with 125 points scored, an average of 62.5 points per game. The Storm also lead the league in point differential with an average margin of victory 23.5 points.
AND ON TARGET
One big reason why the Storm offense has been so successful in the first two weeks of the season has been the play of quarterback Shane Stafford. Stafford, who earned AFL Offensive Player of the Week honors after his Week 1 performance against San Jose, had another stellar outing against Austin last Sunday. Stafford completed 20-of-30 passes for 278 yards and seven touchdowns. He also rushed for an eighth score in the game.
This season Stafford leads the AFL with 15 touchdown passes. His passing efficiency rating of 132.1 is also the best in the AFL after two games. Stafford, who has completed 48-of-65 passes for a league-best 73.8% completion percentage, ranks sixth in the league with 551 passing yards.
If theres one aspect of the Tampa Bay Storm offense you can always count on, it is WR/LB Lawrence Samuels. The All-Arena performer is once again getting off to a fast start this season. Against the Wranglers, Samuels caught seven passes for a game-high 139 yards and one touchdown. For the season, the 12-year AFL veteran leads the team with 16 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns. Samuels ranks third in the AFL in receiving yards and is fifth in receptions.
Samuels is now just 30 catches away from becoming the Storms career receptions king. He stands behind only Storm great Stevie Thomas in that category. He is also second in Storm history in receiving yards, tackles, and interceptions, third in receiving touchdowns and all-purpose yards, and fifth in pass breakups.
SHUTTING THEM DOWN
The Storm defense can also take pride in the fact that the Storm lead the league in point differential. The Tampa Bay defense is one of the AFLs best, allowing just 39.0 points per game. That per game average ranks second in the league this season, one point behind Orlando, which allows 38.0 points per game. The Storm have collected a total of 14 stops in the first two games and have forced three field goal attempts of 45+ yards. The Storm defense is second in the league in third down efficiency, allowing opponents to convert on just 4-of-11 opportunities.
Much of the success of the Storm defense can be attributed to the play of defensive specialists Tramain Jones and Jonathan Ordway. Jones ranks second in the league in tackles (18.0), pass breakups (4), and forced fumbles (1) and fourth in passes defensed (4). Ordway, the reigning AFL Defensive Player of the Week, is tied for the league lead with two interceptions and ranks fifth in the AFL in tackles (14.0) and fourth in passes defensed (4).
TOO MANY TURNOVERS
The Tampa Bay Storm were at times sloppy with the football against the Wranglers. The Storm lost a pair of fumbles and quarterback Shane Stafford threw his first interception of the season, giving Tampa Bay three turnovers in the game.
But, despite these lapses, Tampa Bay has been able to compensate for its turnovers by forcing its opponents to commit numerous turnovers of their own. The Storm lead the league with a +3 turnover margin. Tampa Bay is second in the AFL with six forced turnovers, including a league-high four interceptions.
With the win over Austin, the Storm improved to 2-0 this season when they force more turnovers than their opponents. All-time the Storm are 123-13 when their opponents have more turnovers in the game. On the other hand, Tampa Bay is just 26-48 all-time when it commits more turnovers than its opponent.
TOUGH IN THE ZONE
On the big field, inside the opponents 20-yard line is considered the red zone. In Arena Football, the red zone lies insides the opponents 10-yard line. But that zone could also be termed the money zone, because in the AFL, success inside the 10-yard line is usually tied directly to wins and losses.
This season the Storm offense has been money inside the red zone. Tampa Bay has scored touchdowns on all nine of its trips inside the opponents 10-yard line. Tampa Bay is the only team that can boast that its offense has not yet been stopped inside the 10. Defensively the Storm have also been successful when their opponents have marched inside the Tampa Bay 10-yard line. The Storm rank second in the league in that situation, stopping opponents from scoring 50% (4-of-8) of the time they enter the red zone.
This weeks opponent, the Orlando Predators, have also been successful offensively and defensive inside the red zone. While the Storm offense ranks first inside the red zone, the Orlando offense is right behind them at No. 2. The Predators have scored touchdowns on 10-of-12 red zone opportunities. Defensively, the Predators are first in the league in red zone stops, as opponents have scored in just 3-of-7 red zone trips.
ANOTHER MILESTONE FOR MARCUM
Tampa Bay Storm head coach owns numerous AFL coaching milestones, and he reached another last Sunday against the Austin Wranglers. Marcum won his 100th regular season game as the head coach of the Storm.
Marcum is the AFL career leader in every coaching category. He has coached in more ArenaBowls (10) and has won more championships (7) than any other coach, leading three different teams to ArenaBowl titles (Denver, Detroit, Tampa Bay).
Marcum is the second AFL head coach to win 100 regular season games with one franchise. Danny White, who coaches the Arizona Rattlers from 1992-2004, won his 100th regular season game with the Rattlers in his 11th season. Marcum also won his 100th regular season game with the Storm in his 11th season in Tampa Bay. Marcum, who has 169 career victories, holds the all-time victories edge over White (141).
NOT YET AT FULL SPEED
Despite all of the Storms success in the first two games, Tampa Bay has not yet played a game at full speed. The Storm have been without four key players who all suffered injuries during training camp. The biggest blow to Tampa Bay came in their scrimmage against Orlando on January 22. In that scrimmage the Storm lost All-Ironman WR/DB T.T. Toliver with a partially torn MCL. He is expected to miss a few more weeks as he rehabilitates that injury. The Storm also lost OL/DL Rod Williams (broken finger), and FB/LB David White (high ankle sprain) during that scrimmage. Tampa Bay was already without the services of WR/LB David Saunders, who injured his ankle during the second week of training camp.
Regardless of the injuries, Tampa Bay has found a way to win both of their first two games. The 2-0 start by the Storm marks the first 2-0 Tampa Bay start since the 2001 season. That year Tampa Bay won the first seven games of the season before a late-season swoon saw them lose four of their final seven regular season games.
The Tampa Bay Storm, fresh off of their 62-45 win over Austin last Sunday, turned right around and began practicing the next day for their Friday night game against Orlando. With the Friday night kickoff, the Storm did not have any time to rest following the Austin contest. The game against Orlando will be the Storms third game in 12 days. Following the Orlando contest, the Storm will have plenty of time to rest, as they will not play again until February 25 because of a Week 4 bye.
Orlando was able to rest prior to their match-up against the Storm. They played against the Arizona Rattlers on Thursday, February 3, and will have had eight days to prepare for Tampa Bay by the time Friday night rolls around.
BATTLE OF THE BEST?
As if it needed any more hype, Friday nights Tampa Bay-Orlando game features the only two 2-0 teams in the AFL. The Storm and Predators have both picked up impressive wins in the first two weeks of the season and will play not only for in-state and Southern Division bragging rights, but also for the right to call themselves the best team in the league.
Each team is made up of veteran players who have been on their respective teams for some time now. The Predators feature a dominant defense led by Kenny McEntyre in the secondary and a pass rush that led the AFL in sacks last season. The Storm also pride themselves on defense, but have also been able to put together a lethal offense with the likes of Shane Stafford, Freddie Solomon, Lawrence Samuels, and Clif Dell.
THE WAR ON I-4
The storied rivalry between the Tampa Bay Storm and Orlando Predators, dubbed the War on I-4, resumes on Friday night as the two arch rivals meet for the 36th time. The series, which began in 1991, is amazingly close, as the Storm holds a slight 18-17 overall lead. The Storm have a 15-13 advantage in 28 regular-season contests. The Predators, however, have a 4-3 advantage in the postseason. Tampa Bay leads the series all-time points scored race, 1,505 1,457.
Tampa Bay has won four straight contests in this series, including a sweep of the season series in 2004. The streak marks the first Storm four-game winning streak against Orlando since a five-game winning streak that stretched through parts of the 1994, 1995, and 1996 seasons.
TRYING TO HALT TWO STREAKS
Aside from trying to snap the Storms four-game winning streak, Orlando is also looking to snap the leagues longest active regular season winning streak. That streak currently belongs to Tampa Bay, which has won its last eight regular season games dating back to the 2004 season. The Storm closed out the 2004 season with six consecutive regular season wins, and have won two in a row to start off 2005.
This will be the second straight week that the Predators have faced a team with the longest active regular season winning streak. Last week Orlando snapped Arizonas nine-game regular season winning streak.
STAFFORD GETS HONORED FOR RECORD SETTING DAY
Tampa Bay Storm quarterback Shane Stafford was recognized twice for helping lead the Storm to their big win against San Jose. Stafford was named the AFL Player of the Week by the Arena Football League Writers Association on Monday, and then on Tuesday he was honored as the leagues Offensive Player of the Week.
The fourth-year Storm quarterback tied a team record and career high with eight touchdown passes and set a personal best with 28 completions in the game. Stafford finished the contest with 273 yards on 28-of-35 passing. He had no interceptions to go along with his eight touchdowns. Stafford led the Storm offense to 10 consecutive scoring drives in the game. The Tampa Bay offense scored on every drive that Stafford engineered in the contest.
The AFLPA honor and the AFL award marked the second time in his career that each organization bestowed their respective awards on Stafford. He was also named the AFLWA Player of the Week and the AFL Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Storm to a victory over the Los Angeles Avengers in Week 14 of last season.
SECOND PLACE TO HIMSELF
Storm lineman Nyle Wirens 0.5 sack and safety against San Jose in Week 1 gave him 15.0 sacks for his career. It also allowed Wiren to take over sole possession of second place on the teams career sacks list. Wiren entered the season with 14.5 career sacks and was tied for second place on the list with Lynn Rowland. Wiren now stands behind only Andre Bowden, who has 33.0 career sacks.
Wirens defensive play picked up right where he left off last season. The eighth-year player had his best season in 2004, recording a career-high six sacks. He also earned second-team All-AFL honors.
The Tampa Bay Storms 20-man roster for the season opener featured six players making their Storm debuts, including three rookies. AFL veterans Anthony Derricks, Jarrod Penright, and Ricky Hall all played in their first game for the Storm, as did rookies Lynaris Elpheage, Ronney Daniels, and Omar Smith. Additionally, another player, QB Stoney
Case, saw his first-ever AFL game action. Case spent the 2004 season with the Storm but never dressed for a game.
SOLOMON COMES UP BIG IN SEASON OPENERS
Freddie Solomon has now played in three season openers for the Storm, and in each of them he has posted terrific numbers. Against the SaberCats last week Solomon hauled in a game-high 10 catches for 126 yards and three touchdowns. In three career season opening games Solomon has combined for 27 catches for 324 yards and nine touchdowns. His first-ever game opened the 2003 season, and Solomon had 10 catches fro 132 yards and three touchdowns. Last season Solomon had six catches for 66 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against the Orlando Predators.
The Storm have always been a veteran-laden team under head coach Tim Marcum. The same is the case this season, but the Storm opening day roster did include an inordinate number of rookies. This seasons opening day roster included rookies Kenny Christian, Ronney Daniels, Lynaris Elpheage, Herb Haygood, DeMarcus Johnson, Elfrid Payton, Lawrence Richardson, and Omar Smith.
Elpheage, Smith, Payton, and Johnson were all included on the teams 24-man roster, while Daniels, Haygood, and Richardson started the season on the teams injured reserve list. Kenny Christian was on the teams practice squad to start the year.
GOING TO THE BIRDS
The Storm roster includes a certain Midwestern flare this season. Thats because the Storm roster features four players Ricky Hall, Jarrod Penright, Mike Sutton, and Anthony Derricks who played for the Indiana Firebirds last season. In addition, Storm assistant coach Mark Stoute served as an assistant coach for the Firebirds in 2004.
The Storm signed Hall and Derricks as AFL free agents, the only AFL free agents signed by the Storm in the offseason who did not previously play for Tampa Bay. Penright and Sutton were acquired by the Storm through the 2004 Dispersal Draft. Additionally, Jeff Cogell, a member of the teams practice squad, also played for Indiana in 2004 and was acquired by Tampa Bay from Indiana in the Dispersal Draft.
TOUGH DAY AT THE OFFICE
The Storm suffered some potentially devastating injuries during their scrimmage against the Orlando Predators on January 22. The scrimmage, which served as the final day of training camp for both teams, produced numerous injuries for the Storm.
No injury, however, was as costly as the torn MCL suffered by WR/DB T.T. Toliver. Toliver, an All-Ironman selection a season ago, was the Storms starting WR/DB and the teams top kick returner. In 2004, Toliver led the team with 2,095 all-purpose yards and 1,233
kickoff return yards. He finished second on the team in scoring (108 points) and third in receptions (64) and receiving yards (749). Defensively he was third in the team with 55.5 tackles and finished tied for the team lead with three interceptions.
Aside from the injury to Toliver, the Storm lost FB/LB David White to a high ankle sprain, OL/DL Rod Williams with a finger injury, and OL/DL Rashied Simmons to a neck injury. Tampa Bay entered the scrimmage with WR/LB David Saunders out with an ankle injury.
TONS OF EXPERIENCE ON THE SIDELINE
If theres one thing the Storm coaching staff has, it is Arena Football coaching experience. Headed by Tim Marcum, the AFLs all-time winningest coach, the three-man coaching staff has a total of 37 years of AFL coaching experience entering the season.
Marcum has 16 seasons under his belt, all as a head coach. He enters his 11th season in Tampa Bay, and prior to that served as the head coach of the Detroit Drive and Denver Dynamite. Under his guidance his teams have won seven ArenaBowl titles and have played in 10 of the 18 championship games.
Storm assistant coach Dave Ewart is in his third season with the Storm and his 11th season in the AFL. Prior to joining the Storm he served as head coach of the Florida Bobcats. He has also been the head coach of the Texas Terror and St. Louis Stampede and served as an assistant with the Bobcats, Stampede, New England Sea Wolves, and Cleveland Thunderbolts.
Assistant coach Mark Stoute is in his first season with the Storm and his 12th year in the AFL. He is a former head coach of the Toronto Phantoms and was an assistant with the Indiana Firebirds, New England Sea Wolves, Florida Bobcats, Charlotte Rage, and Connecticut Coyotes.
OHARA NAMED OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR
Tampa Bay Storm quarterback Pat O'Hara has been named the team's offensive coordinator. The AFL veteran will continue to serve as one of the team's backup quarterbacks in addition to his coaching duties. O'Hara is in his 11th AFL season and his third season with the Storm. He is best remembered by Storm fans for relieving quarterback John Kaleo in the second half of ArenaBowl XVII and leading the Storm to their fifth ArenaBowl championship.
O'Hara owns three ArenaBowl rings and has played in five championship games. He spent the first six seasons of his career with the Orlando Predators, where he won ArenaBowl championships in 1998 and 2000. He also was with the Toronto Phantoms in 2001 and 2002.
O'Hara has thrown for over 13,000 yards and 200 touchdowns in his AFL career. His career totals include 988 completions in 1,749 attempts for 13,383 yards and 231 touchdowns.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
Five members of the Tampa Bay Storm spent the summer shooting the remake of The Longest Yard starring Adam Sandler and Burt Reynolds. Nyle Wiren, Clif Dell, Louis Williams, and Matt George all had on-screen roles. Wiren served as the body double for former professional Wrestler Steve Austin, and also performed numerous stunts for the movie. OHara worked behind the scenes, helping to find and hire all of the athletes for the movie. He also assisted in designing the plays that were run in the movie. Additionally, he assisted in coaching up Sandler for his role as a quarterback in the movie.
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