1998 Results | Game Coverage
Who: Florida Bobcats at Tampa Bay Storm
From the Bristol University Class ScheduleSUMMER SESSION "A"
Course Title: Arena Football 101
BUMPS, BITES AND BRUISES:WR/DB Cornell Parker (hamstring---IR), WR/DB Kevin Jackson (index finger---IR), OL/DL Sylvester Bembery (ACL/MCL---right knee---IR).
Storm 2-Day:The Storm carry an eight-game winning streak into the Ice Palace as they take on their Southern Division rivals, the Florida Bobcats. Tampa Bay holds a two-game lead in the division over Nashville; the Kats take to the turf Friday night in Orlando. Meanwhile, Florida is fighting for their playoff lives. The Bobcats must win out through the remainder of their games to remain in mathematical consideration for a slot.
The Coaches...Florida - Rick Buffington, 2-8 in his first season with the Bobcats, 27-52 in seven AFL seasons.
Tampa Bay - Tim Marcum, 46-12 in his fourth season with the Storm, 101-24 in ten AFL seasons.
Today's Best:"You go, Big George! You go!" - Tampa Bay OS George LaFrance is in the midst of what could be considered the best season of his career. He scored four touchdowns last week against the ThunderBears, pushing his total in the Storm's two wins over Houston to 11 and his overall season total to 27. 26 of his scores came on receptions; the other came on a missed field goal return against the Florida Bobcats. LaFrance needs just five scores to tie and six to break his franchise and career high of 32, set in 1996.
"Can I get a witness from the congregation?" - It's time to testify about the Storm's playoff chances. By winning last week at Houston, Tampa Bay clinched its eighth consecutive playoff berth and also became the first team in 1998 to clinch the postseason. In order to gain home field advantage for the playoffs, the Storm needs to win three of its last four games. Should the Storm accomplish this goal, the only team that could even forge a tie at 12-2 would be Arizona, and Tampa Bay would win a common opponents tiebreaker, with a 12-2 mark against joint foes. Arizona's mark of 10-2 would lose out on percentage points, due to their two games against the Portland Forest Dragons. Two wins for the Storm would officially clinch a home game in the first round of the postseason. Also, given Nashville's 37-22 loss to Orlando on Friday night, two Storm wins in their last four games plus an Arizona loss would also give the Storm home field advantage.
"You can't stop him; you can only hope to contain him..." - On both sides of the ball, FB/LB Les Barley is turning into a depraved, malignant force that is terrorizing all that come in his way. In the last three weeks, Barley has rushed for 69 yards on just 14 carries, good for a 4.9 yard average---incredible for Arenaball. Barley gained 22 yards on four carries last week, and scored three times, tying a career high that he posted against New York in Week Six. In addition, Barley has posted three sacks in the last three games, including two against the T-Bears. Recognizing the skills of one of the league's greatest Ironmen, the league office honored the man with the Tinactin Ironman of the Week award for Week Ten. He joins Andre Bowden, Lawrence Samuels and Lynn Rowland as Storm players duly honored. But that's not enough. With the league lead in rushing touchdowns (12) and the number three spot in rushing yardage (147) and sacks (five), Barley is making a significant case to oust Orlando WR/DB Barry Wagner for Ironman of the Year honors. In his seven-season Arena Football career, Wagner has won the season award every time out.
"He could go all the way...but he doesn't..." - Although the Storm's kick coverage has come under some fire, the "net" result is that Tampa Bay has yet to allow an opponent to score on a kick return. In fact, the only return score of any kind the Storm has yielded came last week against Houston when Bernard Holmes ran back an interception 17 yards in the third quarter to pull the T-Bears within 42-37. Over the course of the season, Tampa Bay has been outgained by 273 yards on overall returns---1,459 to 1,186---yet the Storm has scored seven times on returns---once on a kickoff, once on a missed field goal, once on an interception and four times off fumbles---compared to just the one Holmes score for Houston.
A Real P.T.P.'er - Storm QB Peter Tom Willis has lived up to the Dick Vitale nickname, and not just because of his first two initials. P.T. remains on a Storm-record pace for touchdowns; his five tosses last week in the win over Houston brought his season total to 52 and pushed his pace up to 73 for the season, which would be three better than Jay Gruden's 70 scoring strikes in 1996. He's been awesome, baby, averaging 8.2 yards per completion and improving in every statistical category this year. In addition to his touchdown record, he is also on track for the franchise record in completion percentage for a season. Gruden completed 62 percent of his tosses in 1992; Willis now stands at 63 percent.
In the Zone - Lingering, breathing deeply, lightheaded in the zone is what WR/LB Stevie Thomas is doing in recent weeks, adding further lore to a legend that will likely see its final destination in the Arena Football Hall of Fame. After struggling through last season, Thomas is the Storm's leader in both receptions and receiving yardage. He has turned in 100-yard receiving games in two of the last three weeks, and only once since Week Five has he failed to post over 75 yards of receptions. Thomas is currently on pace for 1,036 yards, which would give him his fourth 1,000-yard season and third in the last four years. In just ten games in 1998, Thomas has equaled his touchdown total from 1997 (12) and has surpassed his reception (54) and receiving yardage (733) totals. Currently, Thomas is on pace for 84 catches for 1,036 yards and 17 touchdowns.
(A)FL Countdown - We think Mike Golic would have a starring role on the Arena League's version of the pregame show, rather than his standing as supporting cast member (a.k.a. remote correspondent) on ESPN's weekly NFL preview show. But if there was a show for the Arena Football League, perhaps Countdown would include these countdowns...Thomas needs one yard to reach 7,000 yards receiving for his career...Thomas also needs seven touchdowns to get to 150 for his career...K Bjorn Nittmo is three field goals away from tying the single season franchise record of 14 set by Jorge Cimadevilla in 1995...Nittmo is also 20 points away from tying Cimadevilla's record for points by a kicker of 111, also set in 1995...Barley is three scores away from tying the single season team record of 15 rushing touchdowns set by Andre Bowden in 1993.
Nicknames - Back when Storm WR/DB Alvoid Mays was patrolling the defensive backfield for the Washington Redskins, he was honored by NFL Countdown and PrimeTime host Chris Berman. Every time Alvoid's highlights made it on PrimeTime, Berman would call out, "Alvoid...Alvoid...ALVOID!!!" akin to how Dave Seville would call for his most hyperactive Chipmunk, Alvin. In homage to Berman, Storm media relations goobers Andrew "Free" Mason and Charlie "Come Out and Get Your Whuppin'" Whinham demonstrated that they truly possess no lives by spending a good chunk of time coming up with nicknames for the Bobcats and Storm:
Lining up for the Storm...
Mel Agee "Mr. Wilson, That's Swell"
...and for the Bobcats...
Lou "I Coulda Been a Contendah" D'Agostino
Tim Marcum "Your Territory"
Ron Selesky "-al Seasons"
The X-Buc-Games - 900-year-old former Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback Steve DeBerg signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Monday to compete for their backup signal-caller job behind another ex-Buccaneer, Chris Chandler. What does this have to do with the Storm? Well, all fans at the Storm-New York CityHawks game on June 6 got a sneak preview of DeBerg's rise from the football dead. As part of a contest at the end of the third quarter, DeBerg threw a pass to a fan. DeBerg proceeded to rifle the ball 50 yards down the field, delivering a frozen rope that showed some life and vitality in the old arm.
Series History...In their current incarnation as the Florida Bobcats, these clubs have met five times, twice in 1996, twice last year and once this year, with Tampa Bay holding a 5-0 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.
Copyright © 1996 - 1999 by Gale Force Design. All rights reserved.