The Tampa Bay Storm (2-1) will head to Charm City when it takes on the Baltimore Brigade (1-2) this Sunday, May 7, at Royal Farms Arena. The game will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network and the radio call will be streamed on the Lightning Power Play. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. ET.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the Storm and Brigade. Baltimore, the League’s youngest franchise, will host the League’s oldest in Tampa Bay. While this is the first matchup between these two franchises, it is not the first time the Storm has faced a team led by head coach Omarr Smith. Smith holds a winning record of 2-0 when facing Tampa Bay.
The Storm comes into this matchup following its first bye week of the season. The team will look to improve its record to 3-1, a mark it hasn’t seen since the 2014 season. In order to do so, the team will put the ball in the hands of quarterback Randy Hippeard, who is putting up tremendous numbers. Last time out, Hippeard completed 78.7% of his passes, accounting for all nine (7-passing; 2-rushing) of the team’s offensive touchdowns.
Tampa Bay’s offense is a well-oiled machine once the motor starts. This was evident during its week three matchup versus the Cleveland Gladiators. That night saw three Storm receivers (Joe Hills, LaMark Brown and Kendrick Ings) each have 10 or more receptions, with Hills and Brown collecting 141 and 142 receiving yards, respectively. Hills continued his assault on opposing defenses, reeling in four touchdowns on the night. He now has a receiving touchdown in 71 consecutive regular season games.
The Storm will have to beware of the Baltimore defense, especially the team’s defensive line. The Brigade is second in the League with 8.0 sacks on the season. The line is led by defensive lineman Khreem Smith who has recorded 4.0 sacks on the season. The Storm offensive line will need to be locked in and ready to go to prevent this stout defensive line from getting into a rhythm.
Offensively, the Brigade is led by rookie quarterback Shane Carden. The East Carolina standout has started in 2-of-3 games this season and has shown that he has the tools necessary to succeed under center. This past weekend versus the Philadelphia Soul, Carden had his best game, completing 21-of-32 passes for 258 yards and five touchdowns. So far this season, Carden has been able to take care of the ball, throwing 14 touchdowns to just four interceptions.
However, if Baltimore is to succeed offensively, it must keep Carden upright. The team has allowed 9.0 sacks through three games, including 4.0 this past Saturday. Look for the Storm defense to push the pocket to disrupt the flow of the Brigade offense. By moving Carden off his mark and applying pressure, the Storm defensive backfield should be put in prime position to force turnovers.
After starting out the season 2-1, the Storm will be looking to continue its winning ways. But the team cannot take Baltimore lightly. The team is the new kid on the block and it will want to show that it can take out the oldest, most storied team in AFL history.