Adversity is something the Storm has faced all season long.
Although the team didn't achieve the record they hoped for during the regular season, it still has confidence going into the first week of postseason.
“We know that we can compete with the top teams in this league,” said Storm coach Lawrence Samuels. “It’s just that we need to be able to come out and start fast. The guys understand that. They understand what’s at stake this week.”
The Storm proved they can hang with the best against the Arizona Rattlers in Week 9, knocking off the league's top team 63-56 at Amalie Arena for their first win of the season. The team also held its own on July 16 against Sunday's playoff opponent, the Philadelphia Soul, before losing in the final minute to the regular season American Conference champions.
Mac linebacker Jimmy Gordon knows from previous experience what it’s like to push through adversity and make it to the very end. A former Jacksonville Shark, Gordon’s team made it to ArenaBowl last season, which was no easy task having to travel on the road for every playoff game.
“It’s all about everyone being on the same page and wanting the same common goal,” said Gordon. “No matter what obstacles come our way, we just have to all put forth our best effort in practice and come together as a team to get the job done.”
Future AFL Hall-of-Famer and 13-year veteran, T.T. Toliver, perhaps knows better than anyone what kind of plan the team needs heading into this first week of postseason.
“We have to start fast,” Toliver said. “That’s what we have to do. If we start fast, the sky is the limit, you know? We just want to come out here and compete and play four quarters of football.”
Toliver won an ArenaBowl with Samuels in 2003 when both were players with Tampa Bay, and hopes to do it again this year.
An ArenaBowl win would give Tampa Bay a league-record six championships. The Storm and Arizona Rattlers both are currently tied for the league lead with five.
It’s been done before. Teams face adversity all of the time, and it’s just a matter of overcoming it at the right time.
In 2002, the Storm became the first 12-seeded team to defeat to win a playoff game when it defeated the Los Angeles Avengers 66-41.
They'll hope to pull off an upset again on Sunday night at 6 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (ESPN2, 1250-AM).
“We’re going to face a really well coached team, and we just need to be mentally focused in all phases of the game,” said Samuels.
“I know we can do it. These guys have proved that.”