TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Storm (1-10, 0-5) heads to Amway Arena to take on the Orlando Predators (10-2, 4-2) this Friday, June 24. The Storm will look to earn its second win of the season. Fans will be able to catch all of the action as Darek Sharp and Ian Beckles make the call for 1250 AM WHNZ. The game can also be streamed on the Lightning Power Play through the iHeartRadio app. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
This will be the 61st matchup between these two storied franchises and the 27th regular season game in Orlando. Overall, the Predators lead the series 33-27, with Orlando winning the past five meetings. In their last meeting, the Predators defeated the Storm 42-40.
In what seems like a recurring theme, T.T. Toliver is set to break another Arena Football League record this week. The 13-year veteran is setting records on a consistent basis and this past weekend was no different when he became the AFL’s all-time leader in receptions. Toliver now has 1,166 receptions and is ranked third all-time in professional football history. This week, Toliver will become the League’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards. Right now he sits at 20,973 all-purpose yards, needing just 70 to pass AFL Hall of Famer Barry Wagner (21,042).
This week’s matchup will be an interesting one. After dropping 63 points on the Arizona Rattlers three weeks ago, the Storm offense has failed to score more than 40 points, averaging just 32.0 points per game. In order to attack the Predators defense, the team will need to have a perfect showing. The team will not only rely on Toliver, but also Phillip Barnett. Barnett, a rising star in the League, can put up points at a high rate when given the opportunity. So far this season, he is the team’s second leading receiver, hauling in 68 passes for 650 yards and 13 touchdowns.
However, scoring points will not be easy for the Storm. The Predators have one of the best defenses in the League, limiting teams to just 48.2 points per game. A key cog for the Predator defense is defensive back Varmah Sonie. Sonie leads the team in tackles with 74.0 and interceptions with six. His six interceptions rank tied for third in the AFL.
The x-factor in this game for Orlando will be its quarterback play. Bernard Morris will be under center this weekend after starting quarterback Randy Hippeard went down with a leg injury during the team’s matchup versus the Jacksonville Sharks. Hippeard was an early Offensive Player of the Year Candidate and potential MVP. What makes this week’s matchup interesting is Morris, who has had success versus the Storm in the past. He is a dual threat that can attack defenses through the air and on the ground.
The Storm defense will have to stay on its toes in order to keep the Predators offense at bay. The toughest matchup will be versus receiver Brandon Thompkins. This season, Thompkins has reeled in 98 catches for 1,174 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also has the ability to succeed on special teams, returning 68 kickoffs for 1,482 yards and five touchdowns.
For the Storm, this week is about redemption. The team has shown that it has the ability to beat the best and is looking for the perfect opportunity to show that it can succeed. Look for the team to come out fast to prove that it belongs.