The Tampa Bay Storm (3-4, 1-1) takes on the Philadelphia Soul (7-1, 2-0) this Saturday, May 23, at AMALIE Arena on “Military Appreciation Night.” A win would put the Storm back at a .500 record. 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. They will also be able to watch on the WatchESPN app. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. EST.
This will be the 13th meeting between these two franchises, and the seventh in Tampa. Overall, the Soul leads the series with a record of 7-5; however the Storm has the advantage at home, carrying a record of 4-2. Both teams met three times last season, with the Storm going 2-0 at home. The Storm will head to Philadelphia later this season, for the second of two contests.
Last week, the Storm suffered a heartbreaking loss at the hands of its South Division rival, the Orlando Predators, losing in overtime by a score of 63-62. The Storm will want to rebound against a strong Philadelphia Soul team. Offensively, quarterback Jason Boltus will look to evenly distribute the ball to all of his receivers, including former Soul receiver Emery Sammons. Sammons made a splash in his debut last week, catching a 47-yard pass for a touchdown. This was the longest reception of the season for the Storm. Sammons spent three seasons (2012-14) with the Soul and made two ArenaBowl appearances with the team in 2012 and 2013.
Defensively, the Storm will continue to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. The team’s defensive line, anchored by nose guard Richard Clebert, now has a sack in six consecutive games. Clebert leads the team with 4.5 sacks, while Storm rookie, Everett Dawkins leads with 5.0 tackles for loss. The team also boasts one of the top defensive backfields in the League. With veterans Alfred Phillips and James Harrell leading the group, they make it tough for opposing offenses to complete passes. Phillips is second in the League with 16 pass breakups, while Harrell is third in interceptions with four.
If the Soul is to succeed offensively, it will need to protect quarterback Dan Raudabaugh. While the Storm defensive line will do everything in its power to apply pressure, Raudabaugh’s quick release could prove to be the difference between a sack and a completed pass. Philadelphia once again has one of the top offensive lines in the League, giving up just four sacks in eight games. Last season, the Storm only got to the Soul signal-caller twice in three games.
The Soul defense is strong as well, holding teams to just 48.2 points per game, good for fourth in the League. The team also boasts one of the top total defensive units, limiting teams to 252.0 yards per game. Part of this is due to a swarming backfield that is led by defensive back, James Romain. Romain leads the team in interceptions (5) and pass breakups (11). The Storm will need to be on point offensively in order to put points on the board against the Soul.
This will prove to be a tough matchup for both teams. With the Storm coming off a heartbreaking loss and the Soul’s undefeated season coming to an end at the hands of the Jacksonville Sharks, both teams will be hungry for a win