The Tampa Bay Storm (6-6, 2-1) will take on the Philadelphia Soul (11-2, 3-0) this Friday, June 26 at Wells Fargo Center. A win will extend the Storm’s win streak to three games and give the team its first winning record of the season. 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 be streamed live on ESPN3. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. EST.
This is the second meeting of the 2015 season for these two teams. The Soul leads the overall series 8-5 and while the Storm holds a winning home record of 4-3 it has found little success on the road, going 1-5 when away from AMALIE Arena.
Last time out, Philadelphia handed Tampa Bay its worst defeat in franchise history; a 71-27 loss. However, the Storm has used that loss as a spring board to success. The loss was a shock to the system and served as a reboot of what was a roller coaster season of wins and losses. The team had a new desire to win and put that loss behind it; a promise Storm receiver Julius Gregory made following the game.
“We want to let our fans know that wasn’t Storm football and it won’t happen again,” said Gregory.
Since the May 22 loss, the team has gone 3-1 with quality wins over the streaking Jacksonville Sharks and the defending American Conference Champions, Cleveland Gladiators.
Part of the team’s recent success has been the resurgence of the defense. The team went stagnant for a few weeks, getting limited pressure on opposing quarterbacks; but that has changed over the past few games. The defensive line has put significant pressure on quarterbacks and while the sack total may be down, the actual disruption of a quarterback’s game can have a positive effect. This was evidenced in the team’s most recent win versus Cleveland, where the defense never allowed Shane Austin to get comfortable and find a rhythm. The team will have to do the same if it hopes to contain Philadelphia quarterback Dan Raudabaugh.
Raudabaugh, one of the top quarterbacks in the League, runs one of the best offenses in the AFL. The team averages 57.5 points per game and scored 106 total touchdowns this season. The defense will have to keep the Soul signal caller in check, which may be tough considering Raudabaugh is one of the most efficient quarterbacks, throwing just nine interceptions to 86 touchdowns. The Soul also has a pair of explosive receivers in Marco Thomas and Ryan McDaniel. They have combined for 52 of the teams 88 receiving touchdowns and are both in the top-10 of several receiving categories.
Not to be overlooked though is the Storm’s offense, which seems to be coming along nicely after what many have considered an up and down year. Part of the team’s most recent success is its ability to protect the quarterback. The team retooled its offensive line to provide quarterback Jason Boltus enough time to get the ball in the receivers hands. He has several targets to choose from, including rookie of the year candidate Kendrick Ings and Gregory.
The game will be drastically different from the teams’ last meeting. A win over the top team in the American Conference will solidify the Storm as a serious contender and bring the team closer to winning the South Division.