Tampa Bay Storm game notes
This is the inaugural meeting between the Tampa Bay Storm (3-2) and the Kansas City Brigade (1-4). This Southern Division match up pits the AFL's top ranked offense, the Storm (348.2 yds./game), and the league's top ranked defense, the Brigade (235.8 yds./game). Storm QB Shane Stafford leads Tampa Bay's aerial attack which is ranked first in the league, putting up 348.2 yards per game. Perennial Ironman Lawrence Samuels leads the charge for the Storm receivers with 44 receptions, 561 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Stafford's arsenal continues with WR/DB Bobby Sippio, who has caught 32 passes for 392 yards and nine touchdowns. The Storm are expected to be rejoined by DS Tramain Jones in Kansas City. The Brigade are led by AFL-great QB Andy Kelly. Kelly is one of two AFL quarterbacks with more than 700 touchdown passes in his career. This season Kelly has completed a league leading 137 passes for 1,367 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Amongst Kelly's favorite targets is rookie OS Jerel Meyers. Meyers is tied for third in the AFL with 46 receptions for 439 yards and six touchdowns. The Brigade's league leading defense is led by DS Denario Smalls. Smalls is 12th in the league with 29.5 stops and tied for ninth with three interceptions.
The Storm finished their longest homestand of the season with a victory against the previously unbeaten Austin Wranglers (4-1) in front of 15,622 fans. Storm QB Shane Stafford became the only quarterback in AFL history to throw for 400 yards or more in consecutive games. Stafford was 26 of 41 for 424 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. Lawrence Samuels became the Storm all-time leader in reception yards with his three-reception 80-yard and one touchdown performance. Samuels' record stands at 7,851. OS Demetris Bendross, filling in for an injured Freddie Solomon, made 11 catches for 182 yards (tied for fifth in Storm reception yards for a game) and two touchdowns. The Storm came into the game next to last in turnover differential with a minus-5. The Storm defense intercepted three passes and recovered one fumble against the Wranglers who came into the game boasting a plus-6 turnover margin, the 2nd best mark in the league.
Stafford, So Nice Let's Do It Twice...
Shane Stafford became the first quarterback in AFL history to pass for 400 or more yards in consecutive games Saturday against the Austin Wranglers.
Stafford passed for 424 yards in the win versus the Wranglers. Giving him a two week total of 882 yards passing, on 62 completions of 93 passes attempted (67%) and 15 touchdowns.
Lawrence Samuels continues to re-write the Storm record books. Last week he toppled the career mark for receiving yards. He surpassed Storm great Stevie Thomas who set the mark at 7,784. With 80 yards receiving versus Austin Samuels has set the benchmark with 7,851.
Two weeks ago against the Orlando Predators, Samuels set the franchise high for tackles previously held by Tracey Perkins (348). Currently his record stands at 356.0.
Pick Your Poison
The dynamic duo of Samuels and Bobby Sippio has become a deadly combination for opposing defenses. They have combined for 76 receptions, 956 yards (receiving and rushing combined) and 19 touchdowns (Sippio has one rushing).
The pair account for 55 percent of Stafford's completions, 53 percent of the team's offensive output and 51 percent of their touchdowns.
Not A Bad Second Option
Bobby Sippio is displaying why he was a highly sought after free-agent in the off season. This season he has caught 32 passes for 392 yards and nine touchdowns. He is second on the team in receptions and receiving yards; tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns. Sippio has carried the ball once for a three yard score.
Benny and his Jets
Second year man OS Demetris Bendross certainly makes good use of his time on the playing field. In two games this season he has caught 17 passes for 259 yards and four touchdowns, including a 182-yard performance last week versus Austin. That ties him for fifth with Samuels
(2006) and Freddie Solomon (2004) for a Storm player in a game.
Last season, in three games played, he made 13 receptions for 212 yards and five touchdowns.
Riding the Green Wave
Lynarise Elpheage and Jeff Sanchez have proven to be quite the combination in the defensive backfield. The Tulane University graduates played together in New Orleans from 2000-03. This season Elpheage has made 17.5 stops (3rd on the team) and two interceptions (team leader). Sanchez has made 14 stops and one interception.
Stafford Season-to-Season Comparison
Last year QB Stafford had one of the most prolific seasons by any Storm signal caller, re-writing Storm season marks. Last season he finished with 405 completions on 631 attempts for 4,522 yards and 83 touchdowns.
Through 5 Games
ATT COMP PCT YDS TD's
2005 197 128 .650 1,364 29
2006 207 137 .661 1,766 29
Starting Off On the Right Note...
The Storm have scored on their opening drive now in five consecutive weeks to start the season. All five game opening drives ended with a touchdown (4 passing, 1 rushing).
The Storm are 3-0 this season leading after the first quarter.
It's As Easy As Putting Up A President Grant...
The Storm have scored 50 or more points in their last four games. They scored 51 at Grand Rapids in Week 2, 61 versus Georgia in Week 3, 64 in a losing effort against their War on I-4 rival Orlando Predators and 58 against previously unbeaten Austin last week.
The longest consecutive streak of 50 points or more games is seven in 2003, the same year the Storm won their fifth World Championship.
Leading at the Half
The Storm were unstoppable during the 2005 regular season when leading at the half, going 8-0. They are 133-16 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. They are 1-0 this season (30-27, Week 3 vs. Georgia).
The Magic Number
The Storm are 47-3 in franchise history when they score 60 points or more. This season the Storm have scored 60 points or more on two occasions and are 1-1.
Like A Bottle Of Fine Wine, The Older The Better
Twelve-year veteran Lawrence Samuels is currently sixth in the AFL with 44 receptions and third in the league with 561 yards receiving. He also leads the team with 641 all purpose yards, which is the ninth best mark in the league.
A Game For The Ages...
Stafford and Samuels set numerous records February 19 versus their rival from 85 miles east, the Orlando Predators.
Shane Stafford completed 36 passes for 458 yards and eight touchdowns. All of which are all-time Storm game highs.
The 36 completions ties him for second most all-time in AFL History with Andy Kelly (Nashville, 1999). The most completions in a game record belongs to Tommy Maddox with 38 (New Jersey, 2000).
Stafford's 458 passing yards gained is the third highest mark all-time in the AFL. In 1999, Clint Dolezel passed for 479 yards and in 2000 Todd Marinovich passed for 469 yards.
This is the fourth time he has thrown for eight touchdowns in a game. He shares that Storm record with John Kaleo (three times) and Jay Gruden (7/18/92). The last time Stafford accomplished the feat was January 30, 2005 in last year's season opener versus the San Jose Sabercats.
Samuels caught 15 passes, tying him for most receptions all-time by any Storm player in a game (Freddie Solomon, 2004). His 182 yards receiving was a career high and tied him for fifth on the Storm list with teammate Freddie Solomon who achieved the feat in May 2004.
In The Market
General Manager/Head Coach Tim Marcum and Director of Player Personnel Dave Ewart were busy during the off-season signing highly sought after free agents WR/LB Bobby Sippio (Dallas), as well as linemen Thaddeus Bullard (Las Vegas) and Buck Gurley (Orlando).
The Storm returned 15 of 20 players from last season. Of the players lost during the off season, two were 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). 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 and Hunt are currently on IR.
Eight players on the 2006 Storm roster are in their first AFL season. The Storm rookies include kicker Bill Gramatica, linemen A.J. Ricker, Mondre Dickerson, Aaron Hunt, Greg Taplin and Kevin Dogins, as well as 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 three seasons with the Miami Dolphins (2003-05).
Gramatica has converted 31 of 35 point after attempts. Taplin, while showing great speed at the defensive end position, has three tackles. Dickerson (Week 3 versus Georgia) and Smith (Week 4 versus Orlando) have made their AFL debuts. Smith has recorded two tackles and one reception for six yards.
Tim Marcum football teams are usually veteran laden. This year's team features 13 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 spent his last two AFL seasons with the Orlando Predators. This season he has assisted on one tackle and recorded one quarterback hurry.
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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