The Tampa Bay Storm (0-1, 0-1) will head to Cleveland to take on the Gladiators (0-1, 0-0) this Saturday, April 9 at Quicken Loans Arena. Fans will be able to catch all of the action as Darek Sharp and Ian Beckles make the call for 1250 AM WHNZ. The game will also be streamed live on ESPN3 and on the Lightning Power Play which can be found on the iHeartRadio app or at TBLPowerPlay.com. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. EST.
This will be the 19th meeting between the two teams and the seventh in Cleveland. The overall series is tied at 9-9, with the Storm holding a playoff advantage of 1-0. The Storm has not had much luck when playing Cleveland on the road, holding a losing record of 2-4.
After last week’s 51-point loss to the Orlando Predators, look for the Storm to rebound versus the Gladiators. Still struggling to find its identity, the Storm must rise to the occasion this week in order to prevent starting the season 0-2. A win would be the first step in righting a ship that needs to get back on course.
Offensively, the Storm will rely on quarterback Adam Kennedy who will be looking to bounce back after Friday’s loss. Versus Orlando, his go-to receiver was Storm newcomer, Gerald Young. Young led all Storm receivers with six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. He also added five kick returns for 96 yards, including a 31-yard return that put the team in prime offensive position. Young will look to continue to put his team in good field position against a Cleveland team that yielded 89 yards on just three returns versus the Philadelphia Soul last week.
Defensively, the Storm will need to do a better job if it wants to force turnovers. Coming into the season the team changed its defensive philosophy and the team showed flashes of what it is capable of doing. However, the team must be more consistent. In the game of arena football it is imperative to force turnovers. That is what the Storm will need to do if it wants to stop a Cleveland offense that has the ability to put up a large amount of points in any given game.
On the other side of the ball, the Gladiators will also try to get back on the right track after dropping its opener to the Soul, 69-41. This may prove tough as the team’s starting quarterback, Chris Dieker, was knocked out of the game mid-way through the fourth quarter. Dieker stuggled for most of the game on Friday, completing 54.3% of his passes for 196 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Two of his interceptions would go on to be returned for touchdowns. Some of his troubles could be chalked up to being put under pressure for most of the game. The Cleveland offensive line gave up four sacks to the Soul and will need to sure up its protection heading into Saturday’s game.
With both teams struggling to find an identity, look for both the Storm and Gladiators to come out of the gate and firing on all cylinders. A loss for either team could set the tone for the rest of the season, a tone neither team wants to hear.