The Tampa Bay Storm (1-1, 0-0) will host the San Jose SaberCats (2-0, 0-0) on “Faith and Family Night,” this Friday, April 10 at AMALIE Arena. This will be the first trip to Tampa for the SaberCats in over four seasons. Fans can listen to the game on 1250 AM WHNZ or watch live on the WatchESPN app. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. EST.
This is the 18th meeting between these two teams and 15th in the regular season. The SaberCats hold an overall winning record of 10-7, with the Storm holding a record of 4-5 when hosting San Jose. The SaberCats come into this game riding a two-game winning streak over the Storm, having won the 2013 and 2014 matchups. The last time the Storm faced San Jose at home, the team found itself in the win column, defeating the SaberCats by a score of 57-44.
The Storm enters the game fresh off its first win of the season over the Portland Thunder. The game was a shootout between the two teams, but was sealed in the final minute with a James Harrell interception, his second of the season and eighth of his career. One of the biggest positives of the game was the improved play of the offensive line. Bolstered by the recent addition of offensive lineman Ben Ossai, the Storm line was able to protect Jason Boltus for the entire game, giving up no sacks. Boltus finished the night completing 23-of-40 passes for 294 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. He would also rush eight times for 13 yards and two touchdowns.
Offensively, the player of the night for the Storm was T.T. Toliver. Toliver would go on to catch nine passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns. In just two games, Toliver has reeled in 21 passes for 310 yards and six touchdowns. He has 998 career receptions and is just two short of 1,000. Toliver has the ability to reach 1,000 and break that mark this weekend, making him the 17th player in professional history to reach this milestone. He will join former teammate and current Storm head coach, Lawrence Samuels, as the only Storm players to reach this mark and will be the fourth player in AFL history to achieve this goal.
San Jose has seen some turnover in personnel with the biggest coming on the offensive side of the ball with the offseason acquisition of quarterback Erik Meyer. Prior to joining San Jose, Meyer spent four seasons with the Spokane Shock, earning First Team All-Arena Honors, AFL Offensive Player of the Year and AFL MVP, for his performance during the 2013 season. Not to be overlooked is fullback Odie Armstrong, who in the past two games has rushed eight times for 23 yards and three touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball is the San Jose defense. Tampa will have to play at the top of its game if it wants to contain the SaberCats pass rush. San Jose has a top ranked defense, limiting teams to just an average of 34.5 points per game and 224.5 yards per game. The defensive line has wreaked havoc throughout the season with seven sacks on the year. Defensive end Luis Vasquez leads the League, and team, with 3.5 sacks and Jason Stewart is right behind him with two of his own. If Tampa wants to succeed, it will have to do all it can to contain these two defensive linemen.
Look for both teams to come out firing on all cylinders, putting on a show for the fans at Amalie Arena.