The Tampa Bay Storm (4-6, 1-1) hosts the Jacksonville Sharks (6-5, 1-2) this Friday, June 12 at AMALIE Arena on “Youth Sports Night” presented by MetroPCS. Fans can listen to Jack Harris and Darek Sharp make the call for 1250 AM WHNZ and also listen live on the Lightning Power Play which can be found on the iHeartRadio app or TBLPowerPlay.com. The game will also be televised nationally on ESPN2. Kickoff is set for 7:00 .p.m.
This weekend’s matchup will be the second of a three-game season series versus the Sharks. It will be the 13th meeting between these two South Division rivals, and seventh in Tampa. Jacksonville holds an overall series lead of 9-3, but the Storm is riding a two game win streak over the Sharks. Tampa Bay also holds a home record of 3-3 when facing Jacksonville at home.
Last time out, the Storm defeated the Sharks by a score of 63-28. It was a convincing win, with the team showing what it can do when the offense and defense are clicking on all cylinders. The game also solidified the Storm as having one of the top defenses in the League. However, the loss lifted the Sharks and since that time, Jacksonville has gone on to win five straight games. This will be a key game for the Storm as it looks to keep its season alive versus a tough division opponent.
Offensively, the Storm knows it needs to protect quarterback Jason Boltus if it wants a chance to succeed. This will not be an easy task as the Sharks have a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in defensive lineman, Joe Sykes. Sykes has 14 sacks in just 10 games played, and accounts for more than half of his team’s season total (22). Prior to last week’s game versus the Arizona Rattlers, the Storm boosted the offensive line with the additions of Tyler Moore and Jermarcus Hardrick. Look for them to join the rest of the Storm offensive line in protecting Boltus.
Defensively, the Storm has one of the top units in the League, ranking in the top-five of several categories. Defensive back Alfred Phillips has been a key part of the backfield, with the five-year veteran breaking up 21 passes this season. His 21 pass breakups are ranked second in the League behind Arizona’s Jeremy Kellem (24). Phillips is also joined by his teammate James Harrell who is also receiving attention as a potential Defensive Player of the Year. Harrell has made several plays this season, accounting for a total of 10 takeaways (6 interceptions/4 fumble recoveries) on defense.
The Sharks have started to click on offense these past few weeks. Armed with a receiving arsenal that includes Joe Hills and Tiger Jones, Jacksonville has two weapons that can score at any given moment. The key to disrupting the offense will be to get to Sharks quarterback, Tommy Grady. This will prove to be no easy task for the defense as it attacks an offensive line that has given up just six sacks all season. With the proper protection, Grady has completed 65.2% of his passes for 2,820 yards and 57 touchdowns.
This weekend’s game will prove to be a tough test for the Storm. Jacksonville will have extra motivation in exacting revenge over its loss to the Storm earlier in the season. However, a win will give the Storm the tiebreaker over the Sharks at the end of the season which could prove crucial when vying for a playoff spot.