1997 Results | Game Coverage
Who: Florida Bobcats at Tampa Bay Storm
Kicking Off...The Storm begin a two-game homestand against Southern Division rivals by taking on the Florida Bobcats in the inaugural game at the Ice Palace. The building will be christened with a fireworks and pyrotechnic display to celebrate last year's championshipand the Arena Football debut of the new building. The show will start at around 7 p.m. When the game gets underway, the Bobcats will be looking to stop an eight-game losing streak against the Storm. The losing streak dates back to when the franchise was located in Denver in 1991.
The Coaches...Florida - Babe Parilli, 0-1 record in first season with Bobcats, 39-49 record in nine AFL seasons.
Tampa Bay - Tim Marcum, 29-4 in three seasons with Storm, 84-16 in nine AFL seasons.
In 1997...Florida (0-1) - Lost to Albany 45-26.
Tampa Bay (1-0) - Defeated Arizona 42-30.
Bobcats to Watch...WR/DB Bernard Edwards - Since the franchise settled in South Florida in 1993 as the Miami Hooters, there have been few constants with the club. No coach has lasted for more than one season, no quarterback for more than a season's worth of games as a starter. But since 1994, Edwards has been the calm in an otherwise swirling storm of despair. The Hooters/Bobcats have won just 12 of 39 games in Edwards' tenure with the club, but he has quietly managed to work his way up the all-time AFL record book. Edwards ranks 14th all-time in receptions with 214. He was named All-AFL in 1995 while catching 86 passes for 1,124 yards on an otherwise dreadful 1-11 Hooters club. Assorted injuries held Edwards down n 1996, but he still finished second on the 'Cats in receptions (59), yards (736) and receiving touchdowns (13). Appropriately, this Arena League survivor paced his team yet again last week, catching five passes for 48 yards. If he can get loose against the Storm's secondary, Edwards has a chance to wreak some havoc.
OS Cleveland Pratt - Combined with Edwards, the two made a good receiving pair last season. Pratt led Florida in receptions (82), yards (1,094) and receiving touchdowns (18). He also averaged 21.4 yards per kick return last season and scored three touchdowns off returns, including a 55-yard kickoff return at Tampa Bay (6/8/94).
Noting the Bobcats...QB Quandary - Without regular quarterback Fred McNair, still out thanks to a knee injury last season, Florida has settled on a tandem of Tom Luginbill and Clemente Gordon at quarterback. Neither distinguished themselves in last week's loss to Albany---both completed less than 42 percent of their passes. However, Gordon managed to throw two touchdown passes late in the game, while Luginbill managed no touchdown passes and four interceptions.
The Road Warriors - After a home loss to Albany last week, the Bobcats become, in essence, a traveling road show. Saturday's game is the first of a five-game road trip that will see them play three designated road games, plus two "home" games moved to neutral sites due to problems with West Palm Beach Auditorium---namely, the capacity, or lack thereof. The WPB Auditorium seats just 4,300 for Arena Football and is by far the smallest venue in the league.
Quotable - Florida coach Babe Parilli, in a media release: "We need to get a win. The one thing we need to improve is our pass protection and then we need to wipe out turnovers."
Tampa Bay/Florida Connections - Bobcat WR/DB Anthony Howard was a member of the Storm from 1991 through May 1993, when he was traded to the Charlotte Rage for FB/LB Les Barley...Kicker Chris Drennan was the third in a season-long parade of kickers who booted for the Storm in 1994...OL/DL Lamar Rogers played for the Storm last season; saw limited action before being waived by the Storm last June...FB/LB Travis Pearson, currently on the Bobcats' injured reserve list, was a member of the Storm in 1994.
Noting the Storm...For Openers - Saturday's game will mark the debut in downtown Tampa's new Ice Palace, opened last October for the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning. The Storm plans a special pregame show, which will begin at around 7 p.m., 40 minutes before kickoff. Preparations on the field and in the Ice Palace forced the Storm to Tampa Prep for an outdoor practice on Thursday morning. The preparations included painting of the team and corporate logos on the field, installation of sideline barriers and re-painting of the goalposts. Fans will notice a major aesthetic change in the field, as the end zones will be painted in the team's midnight blue color as opposed to the white in the end zones for the last two years.
McKinnon and Barley Chase the Record - FB/LBs Les Barley and Cedric McKinnon rank second and third, respectively, on the AFL's all-time rushing list. Barley carried four times for eight yards last week, boosting his career total to 764 yards. McKinnon gained nine yards on seven carries to move up to 735 yards. Both are chasing the top all-time rusher, former Columbus/Cleveland quarterback Major Harris, who ran for 837 yards in his three-season career.
Injury Front - Sylvester Bembery, expected to miss the game with a hand injury, will play, according to Storm coach Tim Marcum. He has been fitted with a soft cast on the hand he broke in practice two weeks ago. Defensive back Johnnie Harris is questionable with a pulled groin. WR/DBs Walter Sutton (hamstring) and Antoine Worthman are both doubtful for Saturday's game with injuries. "We're pretty beat up right now," Marcum said.
From the Mouth of Marcum...On the Bobcats... - "Babe Parilli will always find a way to beat you. He beat us two years ago [when he was coaching] Las Vegas, and [assistant coach] Rick Buffington beat us last year with Charlotte, so they always find a way to play us tough."
On the Arizona Game... - "The thing that impressed me was that we controlled the line of scrimmage. That's what we've got to do in future games---on defense we've got to rush the passer and on offense we've got to protect P.T. [Storm quarterback Peter Tom Willis]."
Series History...In their current incarnation as the Florida Bobcats, these clubs have met twice, both times in 1996, with Tampa Bay holding a 2-0 edge. But the history of the franchise goes back further than last year. From 1993 to 1995, they were the Miami Hooters, and they faced the Storm five times, with Tampa Bay winning each one. In 1992, they were the Sacramento Attack, and they did not meet the Storm. Prior to that, they were the Denver Dynamite, and they met the Storm three times in Tampa Bay's inaugural season of 1991---twice in the regular season and once in the playoffs. The teams spilt the regular meetings, and the Storm throttled the Dynamite 40-13 in a playoff game at the then-Florida Suncoast Dome.
07/13/91 - Tampa Bay 30, Denver 13 - Highlights: A then-AFL record crowd of 24,445 witnesses the lowest-scoring first half in league history as Denver crawls to a 3-0 advantage at the break; Storm limits Denver quarterback Mike Hold to ten completions in 28 attempts.
07/19/91 - Denver 51, Tampa Bay 34 - Highlights: Denver scores 27 consecutive points in the second half to take a 48-27 lead; Denver controls the ball for 37:48.
08/09/91 - Tampa Bay 40, Denver 13 - Highlights: Storm scores the first 28 points; Lynn Bradford rushes for 37 yards and three touchdowns; Stevie Thomas catches seven passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns. Box Score
05/31/93 - Tampa Bay 29, Miami 22 - Highlight: Game scheduled for May 28, but postponed to Memorial Day evening because of riots near the Miami Arena; Storm forced to take five-hour bus ride back to St. Petersburg, then get on another bus on Monday night to go back to Miami to finally play the game.
07/17/93 - Tampa Bay 65, Miami 46 - Highlight: Lethargic Storm crank up fans by changing uniforms at halftime from the new black-and-silver ones into the old Zubaz-striped togs; second half delayed by at least five minutes as the Storm players hurriedly change outfits.
06/25/94 - Tampa Bay 47, Miami 32 - Highlight: Storm win third in a row after 0-2 start; Storm outscores Miami 28-3 in second and part of third quarters to turn a 14-7 deficit into a 35-17 lead; Storm's 108 rushing yards second-best in team history.
05/13/95 - Tampa Bay 58, Miami 43 - Highlights: Storm score on two safeties, a fumble return and two offensive touchdowns to grab a 25-0 lead after the first quarter; Ivan Caesar debuts at fullback and gains 54 yards on just six carries. Box Score
06/10/95 - Tampa Bay 54, Miami 7 - Highlights: Storm dominates from start, taking a 37-0 lead into the locker room; seven points are fewest ever allowed by Tampa Bay; Hooters finally score with one minute remaining to avert what would have been just the second shutout in Arena Football history. Box Score
06/08/96 - Tampa Bay 55, Florida 47 - Highlights: Bobcats stun Storm by jumping out to leads of 19-7 and 26-14 in the first half; Tampa Bay grabs lead of 28-26 late in first half and never relinquishes it; Jay Gruden passes for 290 yards and six touchdowns; LaFrance and Thomas combine for 16 catches for 210 yards and four touchdowns. Box Score
07/06/96 - Tampa Bay 39, Florida 36 - Highlights: Jorge Cimadevilla's 47-yard field goal as time expires wins it; Storm's team bus doesn't arrive until just 40 minutes before kickoff; Tampa Bay carries 12-point lead into fourth quarter before furious Bobcat rally ties the score. Box Score
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