The Tampa Bay Storm (3-3, 1-0) heads to the Amway Center to take on the Orlando Predators (3-4, 1-0) on Saturday, May 16 in this season’s first installment of the “War on I-4.” With a win, the Storm will extend its South Division lead to a full game. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network. Fans can also listen on 1250 AM WHNZ or on the Lightning Power Play which can be found on the iHeartRadio app or TBLPowerPlay.com. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. EST.
In what is arguably the most heated rivalry in Arena Football League history, these two storied franchises will meet for the 56th time, each looking to prove they are the team to beat in the South Division. The Predators lead the overall series 28-27, with Orlando outscoring the Storm by 57 total points. The last time these two teams met, the Storm came out victorious, winning the game 35-34. A win for Tampa Bay would put the team up a full game on Orlando, and even the series record at 28 wins apiece.
This week’s matchup is full of storylines, with the top being the swapping of quarterbacks in the offseason. Former Predators quarterback, Jason Boltus, now finds himself under center for the Storm. He’ll make his return to Orlando this Saturday. The night also marks the first meeting between former Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard and his former team. Both quarterbacks will be out looking for a win versus their former teams.
The Storm will look to continue its dominance on the defensive side of the ball. The team brings a top-5 defense that looks to make stops every chance it gets. The backfield, also known as “The BeeHive,” will be swarming all night looking for pass breakups and interceptions. The group is led by veteran defensive backs, Alfred Phillips and James Harrell. In last week’s 63-28 romp over the Jacksonville Sharks, Phillips and Harrell each had an interception, with Harrell also picking up a net recovery for a touchdown. Harrell’s impressive play earned him the Riddell Defensive Player of the Week, J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Week and AFL Most Valuable Player of the Week awards.
Orlando enters this week’s matchup after losing to the Philadelphia Soul by a score of 62-48. Bernard Morris made the start for Orlando after Hippeard went down with an injury in week six. He finished the night having completed 21-of-40 passes for 213 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. With Hippeard down with a potential injury, the Storm may see Morris for the first time this season. One thing for sure is that both quarterbacks have the capability of performing well and can light up the scoreboard if given the opportunity.
Either way, look for both teams to come in and play their hearts out. This is a game where you can throw out the records, with both rivals always looking to one-up the other in their attempt to show supremacy in the South Division.