1998 Results | Game Coverage

SaberCats   at   Storm
(7-7)   (12-2)


Who: San Jose SaberCats at Tampa Bay Storm
What: 1st Round - 1998 Playoffs
When: Saturday, August 8, 1998, 8:00 p.m. EDT
Where: Ice Palace, Tampa, Fla.
TV Coverage: ESPN.
Radio Coverage: WDAE-AM 1250 (Tampa-St. Petersburg), KTCK AM 1050(San Jose), KNBR-AM 680 (San Francisco).

One to Watch...

Johnnie Harris
Johnnie Harris, a candidate for the league's defensive player of the year award, will face a tough task in trying to stop San Jose WR/DB Steve Papin, who set a league record for all-purpose yards in a season in 1998. Photo by Chris Arnold.

Kicking Off...

The Storm hosts their first postseason game in two years, and their first since moving to the Ice Palace last year, when the San Jose SaberCats take to the turf for tonight's encounter. The teams enter tonight's game coming from opposite directions. While the Storm have won 11 out of 12 since their lone home loss to Nashville on May 9, the SaberCats stumbled toward the finish line, dropping three out of four, including a 54-37 humbling at the hands of the 3-11 New York CityHawks two weeks ago. However, San Jose came through in a pressure situation last weekend, defeating Houston 65-55 in a game the 'Cats needed in order to stay alive. The Storm, meanwhile, defeated the Grand Rapids Rampage 55-44 in a surprisingly tough encounter last Saturday in western Michigan. FB/LB Les Barley barreled over the goal line with the winning touchdown with 18 seconds left. WR/LB Lawrence Samuels then capped the scoring with a touchdown on a 20-yard interception return on the game's final play.

The Coaches...

San Jose - Todd Shell, 29-27 in four seasons with the SaberCats, 29-27 in four AFL seasons.

Tampa Bay - Tim Marcum, 49-13 in his fourth season with the Storm, 104-25 in ten AFL seasons.

In 1998...

San Jose (7-7) - Lost to Tampa Bay 45-23, lost to Arizona 62-43, lost to Albany 56-30, defeated Grand Rapids 49-20, defeated Nashville 49-41, lost to Arizona 48-26, defeated New Jersey 51-33, defeated Portland 48-44, defeated Milwaukee 76-40, defeated Portland 68-45, lost to Iowa 44-41, lost to Albany 56-53, lost to New York 54-37, defeated Houston 65-55.

Tampa Bay (12-2) - Defeated San Jose, 45-23, lost to Nashville 54-52, defeated Houston 56-25, defeated Florida 44-29, defeated New Jersey 81-42, defeated New York 65-33, defeated Orlando 42-34, defeated Albany 63-42, defeated Orlando 56-30, defeated Houston 62-46, defeated Florida 59-18, lost to Nashville 49-43, defeated Iowa 71-44, defeated Grand Rapids 55-44.

Tonight's Officials

Referee: Bill McCabe (48); Umpire: Paul Frerking (51); Head Linesman: Gregory Steed (19); Line Judge: David Chesney (23); Back Judge: Jim Anderson (18).

Storm Injury Report

Four Storm players entered the week on injured reserve: WR/DB Kevin Jackson, with a broken index finger, WR/DB Cornell Parker, with a strained hamstring, WR/DB Tracy Sanders, who has an injured hamstring, and OL/DL Sylvester Bembery, who is out for the season with torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments. Bembery had surgery on his knee on July 29. Listed as day-to-day for the Storm is lineman Tony Woods, who missed last week's game at Grand Rapids with an injured ankle.

The Awards Zone

Submitted for your approval, are the cases of several Storm players. These gentlemen have succeeded in helping the Storm forge the best record in the Arena Football League in 1998. In some cases, these men have been making their presence felt for most of the decade. These are the kinds of players that have made the Storm dominate in 1998. Players that have crossed barriers of walls, nets and defenders, to enter---the Awards Zone.

Tinactin Ironman of the Year

Les Barley - Fullback/Linebacker

Offensive Stats:

  • Rushing -- 61 rushes, 232 yards.
  • 15 rushing touchdowns - ties a franchise record, sets a career high and leads the league for 1998.
  • Finished third in the league in rushing yardage.
  • Surged at the end of the season; gaining 154 yards in the last seven games.
  • Averaged 5.3 yards per carry in the last seven games.

Defensive Stats:

  • A league-leading and franchise record 8 unassisted sacks among fullback/linebackers.
  • Second in league with eight total sacks.
  • Tied for league lead with three forced fumbles.
  • Tied for fourth in the league with three fumbles recovered.
  • Tied for eighth in the league with three tackles for losses.
  • 30 total tackles.
  • Scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery (at New Jersey, Week Five).

Other stuff to consider:

  • Accomplished these statistics in spite of splitting time at fullback/linebacker with Andre Bowden.
  • Is the league's all-time leading rusher with 1,171 yards, and is the only man to rush for more than 1,000 yards in league history.
  • Named Tinactin Ironman of the Game against New York (Week Six), at Orlando (Week Seven) and Houston (Week Ten).
  • Honored as the league's Tinactin Ironman of the Week for his efforts against Houston; he carried four times for 22 yards and three scores; made three unassisted tackles and notched two sacks of Houston QB Clint Dolezel.

Andre Bowden - Fullback/Linebacker

Offensive Stats:

  • Rushing -- 49 rushes, 113 yards, seven touchdowns.

Defensive Stats:

  • Seven sacks - ties a career high previously set in 1993.
  • Fourth in the league in sacks.
  • Second in league in sacks by fullback/linebackers behind teammate Les Barley. 39 tackles, including 28 solo stops.
  • Fumble recovery returned for 36 yard touchdown (vs. Orlando, Week Nine).

Other stuff to consider:

  • Played only 13 games (Missed Week Four game at Florida with injury).
  • Split time with Les Barley at fullback and linebacker.
  • Named the Tinactin Ironman of the Week for Week One; in that week's win at San Jose, he racked up three sacks for 20 yards, made eight total tackles and forced a fumble.

Lawrence Samuels - Wide Receiver/Linebacker

Offensive Stats:

  • Set career highs in receptions (55), receiving yardage (667) and receiving touchdowns (14).
  • Finished third on the Storm in those categories.

Defensive Stats:

  • Scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery at New Jersey (Week Five).
  • Posted 43 total tackles and broke up three passes.
  • Returned two interceptions for scores, in the last two weeks of the season.

Other stuff to consider:

  • Split time with Stevie Thomas at wide receiver and linebacker (at receiver, Thomas led the team in receptions with 76 for 912 yards and 16 touchdowns).
  • Named the league's Tinactin Ironman of the Week for his efforts in the New Jersey game; in addition to the score off the fumble, he caught three passes for 41 yards and two scores, recovered two fumbles and intercepted a pass.
  • Named the Tinactin Ironman Player of the Game by ESPN against Florida in Week Twelve; he forced two fumbles on kickoff returns, led the team in receptions (six), receiving yardage (60) and touchdowns (three).
  • Also earned Tinactin Ironman of the Game honors at Florida (Week Four), against Albany (Week Eight) and Iowa (Week Thirteen).

Defensive Player of the Year

Johnnie Harris - Defensive Specialist

  • League-leading 11 interceptions for 121 yards and a touchdown.
  • Shattered AFL record for passes defended (26) with 44 (including his 11 interceptions).
  • Tied AFL lead for fumbles forced with 3.
  • Finish sixth in the league with a franchise-record 77 tackles.
  • Played only 13 games; missed Week Twelve loss at Nashville.
  • Posted six interceptions in a three-game stretch from Week Five to Week Seven.
  • Scored on a 45-yard interception return vs. New York (Week Six).
  • Intercepted a pass on the last play of the game to preserve the Storm's win at Orlando (Week Seven).
  • Picked off two passes in the Storm's end zone at Grand Rapids (Week Fourteen).

Lineman of the Year

Lynn Rowland - Offensive Lineman/Defensive Lineman

  • Caught two passes for 19 yards, including a backwards-leaping, falling-down touchdown catch at Orlando (Week Seven).
  • Led Storm linemen with a career-high 6.5 sacks.
  • Scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery at Grand Rapids (Week Fourteen).
  • Was the league's Ironman of the Week in the Week Seven win at Orlando; he caught a touchdown pass, blocked a field goal attempt, posted a sack and helped win the game by pressuring Predator QB Pat O'Hara into an interception on the last play of the game.
  • Forced two fumbles in the Week Eight win over Albany.

Kicker of the Year

Bjorn Nittmo - Kicker

  • Set the Storm's all-time season record for points by a kicker with 123 points.
  • 84-93 on PATs (90.3 %).
  • 13-30 on field goals.
  • Played in 13 games.
  • Finished fourth in League in scoring behind Milwaukee's Kenny Stucker's 131 points
  • Holds the Storm's single season record for extra points.
  • Hit the rebound net on all but two kickoffs in the final two games.
  • Proved that kickers can be tough, too, by making seven tackles.

Coach of the Year

Tim Marcum

  • Lead team to a league-best 12-2 record.
  • Improved four games from last year's 8-6 record.
  • Is the league's all-time winningest coach with 104 victories.
  • Charter inductee to the AFL Hall of Fame.
  • Only coach to win an Arena Bowl with three different teams Denver ('87),
  • Detroit ('88, '89, '92), and Tampa Bay ('95, '96).
  • 6-2 record in Arena Bowls; his only losses came to his current team in 1991 and 1993.

Commisioner's Award (Team of the Year)

Tampa Bay Storm (12-2)

  • League's best record; two games ahead of nearest team.
  • Number one scoring offense 794 points (56.71 points per game).
  • Number one scoring defense 513 points (36.64 points per game).
  • Number one in point differential (plus-20.07 points per game).
  • Had the league's best rushing defense, allowing just 13.9 yards per game.
  • Also had the league's top passing defense, yielding just 207.3 yards per game.
  • Held opponents to a league-low 221.1 yards per game, more than 32 yards per
  • game fewer than the number two defense in the league (Orlando).
  • Led the league in sacks with 29, ten ahead of the second-best team (Milwaukee).
  • Second in the league in turnover margin (plus-14).


The Next LaFrance? - San Jose OS Steve Papin snatched a record away from the Storm's veteran offensive specialist, George LaFrance, by gaining 3,192 all- purpose yards in 1998. LaFrance's previous league record total of 2,828 yards came in 1996. 1,834 of Papin's yards came via kick returns, also setting a league record. Papin has also scored at least one touchdown in 19 straight games, and since joining the SaberCats at midseason of last year, has scored 53 times in 20 games. He has dotted his name all over the SaberCats' record book, as he has established franchise season bests for all-purpose yards, most kickoff return yards, most combined return yards, most receiving yards, most points, most touchdowns, most receiving touchdowns and most 100-yard games.

Megabytes - Just call them vertically challenged. The SaberCats have eight players who stand below six feet tall, with one, WR/LB Shalon Baker, standing at just 5-6...Storm QB Peter Tom Willis' 115.3 quarterback rating for the season is a Storm record...The SaberCats ow the Storm two sets of future considerations for trades the teams made in June. On June 2, the Storm sent backup quarterback Bryan Martin to the SaberCats for the mysterious future considerations. Then, at the June 17 trading deadline, the Storm sent lineman Earl Scott, who first entered Arena Football last summer after a stint in the then-World League, to the 'Cats for future considerations. While Scott is not currently on the San Jose roster, Martin is the team's second-string quarterback. He has completed six of 13 passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns with three interceptions in limited action...San Jose has never won a postseason game, losing first-round playoff games to Orlando in 1995 and at Iowa last season...Since going 8-4 in their opening season, San Jose has gone an even 21-21 in the last three regular seasons...Tonight's game is televised by ESPN. The last time the sports network visited for the postseason, the Storm defeated Arizona 55-54 in the 1996 semifinals. The Storm has been featured on ESPN for four playoff games in their history, and has won each one...The Storm has only lost three playoff games in its history, including last year's semifinal loss to Arizona. Following each of the first two losses---in 1992 and 1994---the Storm won the championship the next year. That's a lot for this club, rebounding from not making the ArenaBowl for the first time since 1994, to live up to.

Series History

The Storm and SaberCats have met three times, all coming in the last three seasons, with the Storm winning each time. Only once have the teams met in Tampa Bay---on June 1, 1996---and never have the teams met inside the Ice Palace.

6/1/96 - Tampa Bay 36, San Jose 22 - Two fourth quarter touchdowns stretched the Storm's run to 30-0 before Darryl Rogers' touchdown run with 23 seconds left saved a measure of respect for San Jose. Tampa Bay ran their winning streak to 14 with the win. Box Score

8/2/97 - Tampa Bay 58, San Jose 34 - The Storm clinched the No. 6 seed in the 1997 postseason by defeating the SaberCats soundly in the regular-season ending game. Game Coverage

5/1/98 - Tampa Bay 45, San Jose 23 - In this year's season-opening game, Tampa Bay dominated on defense, recording two safeties and three sacks as the Storm cruised to a 45-23 romp in front of 14,028 the San Jose Arena. Game Coverage

Copyright © 1996 - 1999 by Gale Force Design. All rights reserved.