Tampa Bay Storm game notes
The Tampa Bay Storm begin the 2006 campaign on the road versus the Philadelphia Soul in search of their 16th consecutive playoff appearance. Quarterback Shane Stafford will be at the reigns of the offense for the Storm for the fourth consecutive season. The Storm finished 2005 ranked seventh in scoring offense with 52.5 points per game and fifth in total offense with almost 294 yards per contest. The Storm defense is anchored by defensive specialists Jonathan Ordway and Tramain Jones. The tandem finished with 201.5 tackles, seven interceptions and 46 passes defended. Assistant Head Coach Dave Ewart will be calling all the shots for the Storm as Hall-of-Fame Head Coach Tim Marcum will be serving the first of a two-week suspension. The Soul finished 6-10 in 2005 and are led by quarterback Tony Grazziani. Grazziani finished tied for second in the AFL with 90 touchdown passes last season. Former Orlando Predators assistant Bret Munsey is now the Head Coach in Philadelphia. Newly acquired defensive specialist Kevin Gaines and lineman E.J. Burt and Ernest Allen look to tighten up a defense that finished 14th in the league giving up nearly 57 points per game.
STORM 2005 RECAP
The five-time world champion Tampa Bay Storm qualified for a league-record 15th consecutive playoff appearance in 2005 finishing with a 10-6 record. The Storm finished with a perfect 8-0 record at home becoming the only the second team to finish a season undefeated at home. The quest for ArenaBowl XIX ended with a 46-62 loss at the hands of Southern Division Champion and eventual National Conference Champion Georgia Force. Quarterback Shane Stafford broke almost every Storm single-season record in 2005 including completions (405), touchdowns (83), yards (4,522) and completion percentage (64.2). Future AFL Hall-of-Famer Lawrence Samuels earned Second-Team All-Arena honors for the second year in a row. Samuels hauled in 123 passes to lead the team with 1,411 yards and 19 touchdowns. On defense the perennial Ironman made 30.5 stops, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
Bob Papa, play-by-play
Ray Bentley, analyst
Marty Snider, sideline reporter
Jack Harris, play-by-play
Jason Dixon, analyst
Overall Record: Tied 1-1
Regular Season: Tied 1-1
Playoffs: Never met
Last Meeting: Soul won 63-69 (3/20/2005)
Starting Off On The Right Note
The Storm have won their last three season openers and have a record of 10-5 on kickoff weekend. It has defeated its last three opponents during the first game by an astounding average of 27 points (175-74). Last season it defeated the defending ArenaBowl XVIII Champion San Jose SaberCats at the St. Pete Times Forum 63-33.
General Manager/Head Coach Tim Marcum and Director of Player Personnel Dave Ewart were busy during the offseason signing highly sought after free agents WR/LB Bobby Sippio (Dallas), lineman Thaddeus Bullard (Las Vegas) and Buck Gurley (Orlando).
The Storm returned 15-of-20 players from last season of the players lost kicker Matt George and backup QB Stoney Case.
Super Size Me!!!
The average weight of the Storm lineman this season in comparison to last is up nearly 10 pounds (2006 = 287.3 lbs.; 2005 = 277.8). The new additions to the line allow FB/LB Nyle Wiren, who played OL/DL in 2005, to carry the ball more in 2006. New lineman include Thaddeus Bullard (275 lbs.), Mondre Dickerson (300 lbs.), Buck Gurley (300 lbs.), Aaron Hunt (275 lbs.), A.J. Ricker (295 lbs.) and Greg Taplin (280 lbs.). Bullard, Dickerson and Hunt are currently on IR.
Quarterback Shane Stafford has come home to Pennsylvania. The Sinking Springs native will have over 70 friends and family in attendance, including his mother, father and past coaches. He now makes his home in Tampa year round.
Last year when the University of Connecticut graduate played in front of his home crowd he completed 31 passes for 348 yards and seven touchdowns in a losing effort.
8 players on the Storm roster are in their first AFL season for the second consecutive season. The Storm rookies include kicker Bill Gramatica, lineman A.J. Ricker, Mondre Dickerson, Aaron Hunt, Greg Taplin and Kevin Dogins and wide receiver/defensive backs Alphonso Roundtree and Leroy Smith.
Gramatica saw time in the NFL for four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins. Ricker spent time in the Chicago Bears camp in 2005 and Alphonso Roundtree spent time with the Miami Dolphins for three seasons (2003-05).
Tim Marcum football teams are usually veteran laden. This year's team features 11 players on the current 24 man roster with less than three years of experience.
Lynarise Elpheage, Jarrod Penright, Ronney Daniels, and DeMarcus Johnson are key returnees from the 2005 Storm roster with less than three years in the league.
The average age on the team is 28 years, 10 months.
Buck's Back In Town!
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer lineman Buck Gurley is back in Tampa with the Storm. The University of Florida standout won a Super Bowl ring with the Buccaneers in 2003. In that season he played in eight games for the Bucs and recorded two tackles.
Gurley's spent his last two AFL seasons with the Orlando Predators.
Stat-ford Keeps The Numbers Rollin'
QB Shane Stafford is coming off one of the most remarkable seasons in Storm history. He broke season passing records for attempts (631), completions (405), touchdowns (83), yards (4,522) and completion percentage (64.2).
His career numbers were also a huge benefit to his season in 2005. He has passed for 10,874 yards and 203 TD's, only the 2nd QB in Storm history to pass for over 10,000 yards and 200 TD's (Jay Gruden 15,623 yards, 280 TD's).
Ordway, Jones Set Tackle Marks
DS Jonathan Ordway set a Storm record in against New Orleans on April 30, 2005 when he made 14.5 tackles. He made 14 solo tackles and had one assisted. The previous high was set by Antoine Worthman against Milwaukee on July 9, 2000. Ordway ended the season with 87.5 tackles. The previous team record was 88.5, set by Omarr Smith in 2003. Tramain Jones set a new Storm record with 114 tackles in 2005.
Ordway Climbs to the Top
Defensive specialist Jonathan Ordway finished the 2005 season second in the AFL in passes defended. He has 29 pass breakups and six interceptions to date this year. His 29 breakups were also second in the league. His six interceptions tied for fifth in the AFL.
Leading at the Half
The Storm were unstoppable during the 2005 regular season when leading at the half, going 8-0. They are 132-16 all-time when leading after two quarters. Tampa Bay outscored opponents 423-388 in the first half last season, including 254-204 in the second quarter.
Dominant Down the Stretch
The Storm have a history of finishing strong. They have never lost more than two of their final five games in any of their 15 seasons. The Storm have a winning percentage of .781 (57-16) in their final five games of the season. In 2004 they went 5-0 in their final five en route to their 14th consecutive playoff appearance. Last year, they went 3-2 in their last five to clinch their 15th consecutive playoff berth:
- 2005 - 3-2
- 2004 - 5-0
- 2003 - 3-2
- 2002 - 3-2
- 2001 - 3-2
- 2000 - 4-1
They have gone undefeated in their final five three times in their 15-year history. They have lost once seven times and have lost two games in their final five games five times. Tampa Bay lost to Nashville, defeated New Orleans and lost at Georgia to start their final five games 1-2 this year. They beat New York in Week 16 to even their record at 2-2 before finishing 3-2 with a win in Columbus in the 2005 season's final week.
The Magic Number
The Storm are 46-2 in franchise history when they score 60 points or more. They have scored 60 points or more on six separate occasions during 2005 season and won all contests excluding one loss to the Philadelphia Soul. They put up 63 points in Week 1 vs. San Jose, 62 in Week 2 vs. Austin and 70 in Week 6 vs. Grand Rapids. Tampa Bay also improved to 9-0 all-time when they score 70 points or more. The last time the Storm scored 70 points in a game before this season was July 7, 2001 vs. Houston when they won 70-47. They posted 61 points in their Week 16 game against the New York Dragons and won 61-58 while finishing the season by putting up 78 points in Columbus.
Tons of Experience on the Sideline
If there's one thing the Storm coaching staff has, it is Arena Football coaching experience. Headed by Tim Marcum, the AFL's all-time winningest coach, the three-man coaching staff has a total of 37 years of AFL coaching experience entering the season.
Marcum has 18 seasons under his belt, all as a head coach. He enters his 12th 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 fourth 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
Special teams coach Jimmy Dunn has coached arena football for 10 years. He was the head coach with the Miami Hooters in 1994 and Charleston Swamp Foxes of the arenafootball2 from 2000-2002. Also, he has served as offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Rockers, Miami Hooters, Charlotte Rage and special teams coach for the Orlando Predators.
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