Win is a Blast from the Past

Sam Sez

Sam Wolfson
Contributing Editor

July 16, 1997

TAMPA, Fla. - Just a few weeks ago, things were not looking good. Not good at all. The Storm was struggling through its worst ever season, suffering five losses in only seven games. The Storm couldn't even defend its home turf, having a losing record at home (2-3). Every part of the game seemed to be struggling. The offense couldn't score. The defense was giving up big plays. And the special teams weren't very special.

In the last two weeks, all of that has changed. The Storm has put together a modest, but important, two game winning streak, defeating the Texas Terror on the road and pounding the Anaheim Pirhanas at home.

Coach Tim Marcum has brightened the Storm's future by turning to its past. This should not be a shock since the Storm are two-time defending Arenabowl champs, and have won the AFL Championship in four of their six seasons.

Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of FB/LB Andre Bowden. Bowden was a member of the 1991 and 1993 Storm chapionship teams before he left to join the New Orleans Saints.

He was dominant on both sides of the football. He punished opposing defenses with his pounding running style as much as he terrorized the other teams' quarterbacks. He holds the Storm records for season rushes, career rushes, season rushing yards, career rushing yards, season rushing touchdowns, career rushing touchdowns, sacks in a season, and career sacks.

If you can't see how big an impact he makes on this team, check out what he did against Anaheim on Saturday night. He rushed 8 times for 37 yards and 4 touchdowns, tying a single-game team record. But that was only on offense. On defense, he added two tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery, and two tackles for a loss.

In addition to the return of Bowden, wide receiver Stevie Thomas also returned. Although, Thomas never really left the team. It just seemed that way. Throughout much of the season, Thomas was a non-factor. But he was a huge factor against Anaheim. He caught 4 passes for an even 100 yards and 2 TD's. It was his second TD that was the biggest play of the game.

After giving up a big early lead, the Storm found itself down by one with only 6 seconds until halftime. To make matters worse, it faced 4th and 1 from its own 12 yard line. Marcum decided to go for it. If it failed to convert, Anaheim would have a short field goal attempt to boost their lead. The Storm did not go for the quick and short pass. Instead, quarterback P.T. Willis went deep. He found Thomas in stride for the go-ahead TD, and the Storm was never threatened again.

With only 3 more games left in the regular season, the Storm must be at its best if it does not want to find itself outside of the playoff picture. Fortunately, the schedule makers have smiled on Tampa Bay. They have the easiest remaining schedule of the teams battling for the last 3 or 4 playoff spots. Their hardest game should be this week when they host the Iowa Barnstormers in a rematch of last season's exciting Arenabowl. This will surely be a game of high intensity and playoff-like atmosphere. It will give the Storm a good look at where this new-look team really stands.

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