1997 Results | Game Coverage

Bobcats   at   Storm
(4-8) (6-6)


Who: Florida Bobcats at Tampa Bay Storm
When: Saturday, July 26, 1997, 7:30 p.m. EDT.
Where: Ice Palace, Tampa, Fla.
TV Coverage: Sunshine Network (Florida).
Radio Coverage: WPOM-AM (West Palm Beach), WDAE-AM 1250 (Tampa).

One to Watch...
Willie Wyatt
Jocular lineman Willie Wyatt has played some of the best football of his life in the last two weeks, having recorded a sack, blocked a field goal and recovered a fumble. Photo by Chris Arnold.

Kicking Off...

The Storm closes out its home schedule with a game that wasn't orginally supposed to be a home contest against the Florida Bobcats. The game was originally supposed to be in West Palm Beach, but when financing for a new arena in Palm Beach County collapsed, the Bobcats became a traveling road show, with "home" games played in Los Angeles, Ottawa, Des Moines, Boston and Tampa. The Bobcats are out of the playoff race, while the Storm is looking to overcome their 1997 woes and make the postseason for the seventh straight year.

The Coaches...

Florida - Babe Parilli, 4-8 record in first season with Bobcats, 43-56 record in nine AFL seasons.

Tampa Bay - Tim Marcum, 34-10 in three seasons with Storm, 89-22 in nine AFL seasons.

In 1997...

Florida (4-8) - Lost to Albany 45-26, lost to Tampa Bay 38-19, defeated New Jersey 44-28, lost to Anaheim 62-45, lost to Arizona 48-25, defeated New York 44-40, lost to Orlando 62-39, lost to Arizona 58-41, defeated Iowa 68-55, lost to Portland 45-33, defeated New York 53-12, lost to San Jose 37-26.

Tampa Bay (6-6) - Defeated Arizona 42-30, defeated Florida 38-19, lost to Orlando 43-17, defeated Nashville 42-26, lost to Milwaukee 52-41, lost to Albany 53-31, lost to New Jersey 44-28, defeated New York 27-9, lost to Orlando 54-30, defeated Texas 40-31, defeated Anaheim 68-43, lost to Iowa 61-38.

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 16 of 50 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 eighth all-time in receptions with 282. 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). 1997 has brought more of the same for Edwards---he leads the Bobcats in receptions (68), receiving yardage (855) and touchdowns (14)

DS Darius Hadley - Without question, he is Florida's leader on defense. He ranks second on the club in tackles (with 34 going into the San Jose game) and is first in interceptions with five.

QB Clemente Gordon - In Week Two, the Bobcats chose to go with Tom Luginbill behind center. His struggles prompted Parilli to change to Gordon, and although the Bobcats are only 4-6 since, he has been arguably the team's brightest spot. He ranks eighth in the league in passer rating, having completed 174 of 310 passes for 2184 yards and 36 touchdowns. Gordon has embodied the journeyman quarterback, as his travels have taken him to Cincinnati (1992), Miami (1993-94), Connecticut (1995) and a short stint with Charlotte (1996). For the first time, he has a chance to be the full-time starter, and he has responded with the best season of his career.

Noting the Bobcats...

Being All You Can Be - In recent weeks, the nation-trotting Bobcats have borne the logo of an organization, that, like the Bobcats, takes its members all over the country---the U.S. Army. It's only a small logo on the sleeve, but it's there: "Army---Be All You Can Be." In reality, that's not a bad motto for a football team, either, especially one that's allowed an average of just 24.5 points per game in their last two contests.

The Road Warriors - This is likely the final "home" game in the history of the Bobcats. Yes, that's right, it's a home game, even though it will be in the Storm's home arena. After a Week Seven loss to Orlando in West Palm Beach, the Bobcats became, in essence, a traveling road show. Since that 62-39 loss, the Bobcats have traveled near and far, from Phoenix to Des Moines to Portland to Boston back to San Jose. Saturday's game with the Storm and next weekend's game at Orlando give the Bobcats a chance to bus it from their West Palm home base for the final two games, saving the team the hassle of plane connections, time zone changes and other traveling travails. Of those five games, two were originally supposed to be home games, but were 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.

Tampa Bay/Florida Connections - OL/DL Lamar Rogers played for the Storm last season; he 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...Backup QB Jake Kelchner was the second-stringer behind Jay Gruden in 1995.

Noting the Storm...

Playoff Possibilities - For a full analysis of the Storm's playoff chances, read Andrew Mason's commentary which analyzes the playoff race as it relates to the Storm.

Wayne's New World - Although he didn't join the team until earlier this month, WR/DB Wayne Walker is turning heads...literally. With blazing speed around 4.2 or 4.3 seconds for a 40-yard dash, he is the fastest player on the team and just might be the fastest in the entire AFL. Wednesday, he saw extensive work on kickoff returns, breaking one down the field. In two games with the Storm, he has four catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. That's good for an impressive 27.3 yards per catch average. "We need to get him the ball more," Marcum said. He also added that Walker would be an offensive specialist only, which, by substitution rules, probably means he will only play one series per quarter, since OS George LaFrance is entrenched at that spot.

Injury Front - No players moved off of the injured reserve list and onto the active roster this week. QB Peter Tom Willis missed practice on Tuesday due to a re-aggravation of the rib injury suffered originally against Albany on June 7. His status is day-to-day. WR/DB Larry Kennedy will miss Saturday's game as his pulled hamstring continues to aggravate him. "He didn't take any reps in one-on-one [drills]," Marcum said after Wednesday's practice. "He tried to go goal line with the team but he can't run."

From the Mouth of Marcum...

On the Bobcats... - "They always play us tougher the second time in a season. They're a good team. But the thing is, you don't know which team is going to show up. Will it be the one that beat Iowa or the one that got beat by Portland?"

On the Rigors of Coaching... - "I'm not eating much. Food doesn't taste good when you lose. Food tastes real good when you win. I looked at a picture of myself taken after the '95 championship game when I went over [to Hawaii] and coached in the Hula Bowl in '96. I looked like I weighed 205 pounds. I weigh 180 now...It's because of the stress of this year."

On This Week's Game... - "I think we'll play well. Practice has been good, and we know what we have to do. Just a matter of getting out there and doing it."

Series History...

In their current incarnation as the Florida Bobcats, these clubs have met three times, twice in 1996 and once this year, with Tampa Bay holding a 3-0 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. After the Hooters score, the Storm runs out the clock, causing fans to boo the team off the field. This was because fans got a coupon for a free cruise on Empress Cruise Lines if the Storm could score 60 points. 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

05/10/97 - Tampa Bay 38, Florida 19 - Highlights: Storm makes its Ice Palace debut and cruises thanks to an 11-catch, 145-yard performance by WR/LB Stevie Thomas. Game Coverage

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