It's Not Over Yet

View From the Press Box

Joe Kauffman
Technical Editor

July 20, 1997

TAMPA, Fla. - This may be the Storm's worst season in their seven year history, but don't give up hope.

True, Saturday night's loss to the Iowa Barnstormers (9-3) did not help in the hunt for the playoffs, but the Storm (6-6) still control their own destiny. If the Storm win their last two games, no matter what happens with other teams, they are in the playoffs. If they lose either, then it gets complicated.

This has been a season of ups and downs for the Storm, and it has just about evened itself out with a .500 record. It is still to early to take a look back at the season, however. I'll save that column for a few more weeks. Instead I'll take a closer look at the game just played.

I know that you have heard this all season from people in all 14 AFL cities, but I just had to mention it again. The officiating was incompetent during the game. This time, however, it wasn't the calls that were questionable. These refs just do not know how to march off penalties. I have pointed this out all season, but this is getting rediculous. Once, when Iowa was called for pass interference, the ref only marched off seven yards. It is an eight yard penalty. A few times Saturday night, three-yard penalties turned into either two- or four-yard penalties. How difficult can it really be to march off a penalty in this league? I know that three and eight yards are unusual distances on a football field, but the only other place I have seen these mistakes made is on high school football fields. If the AFL wants to be taken seriously, the officiating needs to improve.

Well, that's enough preaching, so I'll get into the highs and lows. It was a bitter-sweet night for Storm DS Tracey Perkins, who tied the Arena Football record for interceptions in season by grabbing his eleventh of the year with 3:18 remaining in the third quarter. Six of his 11 have come in the last three games. The bitter side is that Perkins plays for the ball too much sometimes, and by doing so he gave up a Kurt Warner 15-yard touchdown pass to Lamart Cooper with 8:42 remaining in the first quarter. He did have some other good stops, including a pass defensed on an Iowa free play after the Storm was caught offsides.

"The balls are going to come his way because he covers the high-motion and he covers their best receiver," said Marcum of Perkins' record tying season.

"A lot has to do with preparation, watching the games, studying their receivers and really having the confidence on each play," said Perkins. "I feel we have the best receivers on this team, so I really get a lot of hard practice during the during the game, it's not as tough as it may seem."

With Larry Kennedy and Grantis Bell deactivated for the game, Storm WR/DB Antoine Worthman got more time on offense. Usually stepping in as a defensive specialist, the two-way player had three receptions for 31 yards, with five tackles and two assists on defense.

"in this league you've got to learn to play two ways, and in the past I just haven't had an opportunity to play [offense] more often," said Worthman. "I'm capable, and today they called my number."

Another bright spot in the game was OL/DL Willie Wyatt, who last week had the most bazarre play I've ever seen by taking a place kick right off the kicking tee. He nearly did it again this week, but instead, he blocked the kick, giving the Storm excellent field position which led to a 6-0 Storm lead. He also had one tackle and one sack.

Wyatt, however, usually the most vocal player on the team, sat by his locker after the game quietly. He didn't take the loss well.

Neither, for that matter, did the rest of the team. The record my be 6-6, but most of these guys are not used to losing. They are not ready to give up. With games left against Florida and San Jose, the Storm can still make the playoffs. Right now, they don't have to hope other teams will lose in order to make the playoffs. The Storm just need to do twice more this season what they have done against Arizona, Florida, Nashville, New York, Texas and Anaheim.

They need to do what they have always done in Tampa Bay.

The Storm need to win.

That's my view from the press box.

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