1998 Results | Game Coverage
Who: Tampa Bay Storm at Nashville Kats
Kicking Off...In the Shadow of the Grand Ole Opry...
...The Storm will attempt to play a winning tune and exact revenge on the only team to hang a loss on the Tampa Bay ledger. Nashville handed the Storm a 54-52 setback on May 9, but the Storm has been unstoppable since, winning nine in a row. Kickoff against the Southern Division rival Nashville Kats will be at 7:30 p.m. CDT in the Nashville Arena. The game will be broadcast live on Sunshine Network with Rick Peckham and Jerry Johnson, a dynamic broadcasting duo who are rumored to be packing their Wranglers and Stetsons for the occasion.
On the Road Again...
The Storm will leave Tampa on Thursday at 9:05 a.m. EDT, departing on Delta Flight 1701. The Storm will connect in Atlanta before arriving in Nashville on Flight 942 at 11:55 a.m. CDT. A walkthrough is scheduled for sometime on Thursday. Tampa Bay returns home Saturday, leaving Nashville on Delta Flight 1416 at 10:50 a.m. EDT and arriving at Tampa International Airport at 3:32 p.m. EDT on Flight 307 from Atlanta. As always, fans are welcome and encouraged to come see the players off and welcome them home.
The Coaches...Tampa Bay - Tim Marcum, 47-12 in his fourth season with the Storm, 102-24 in ten AFL seasons.
Nashville - Eddie Khayat, 17-9 in his second season with the Kats, 21-15 in three AFL seasons.
In 1998...Tampa Bay (10-1) - 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.
Nashville (7-4) - Defeated Houston 64-40, defeated Tampa Bay 54-52, defeated New Jersey 46-42, defeated Orlando 62-48, lost to San Jose 49-41, lost to Albany 52-49, defeated New York 58-45, lost to Iowa 46-43, defeated Florida 49-46, defeated Milwaukee 62-62, lost to Orlando 37-22.
Noting the Storm..."I've Got Friends In Low(er) Places" - The Storm may be on top of the league right now, but that won't preclude the club from giving a hearty thanks to two clubs that Tampa Bay defeated last month. First, a moment of acknowledgement to the Orlando Predators, who held the Nashville Kats to a season-low 22 points in their 37-22 win at the O-rena on Friday night. The Preds' win, along with the Storm's, placed Tampa Bay just a win or a Nashville loss away from clinching the team's first Southern Division title since 1996. Most importantly, though, a thank-you note is in order to the Albany Firebirds, who did Tampa Bay a great service by pounding the Arizona Rattlers 58-34 on Monday night. By doing so, the Firebirds placed the Storm just one win away from clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. With one win, Tampa Bay would, at worst, finish in a tie with Arizona at 11-3. The Storm would win the tiebreaker based on a higher winning percentage against common opponents.
All My Rowdy Friends Are Comin' Over Tonight - No team has been more of a bull in the Nashville Kats' china shop than the Storm. The Kats went 6-2 at home last year and are 4-2 so far this year. Of their four home losses in franchise history, two came to the Storm---both last season. Tampa Bay's 16-point margin of victory in the Nashville Arena last year also marks the largest margin of victory---by far---for a road team in the place Kats fans like to call "The Alley." Nashville's other home losses came to New Jersey on June 7, 1997 (59-55) and in 1998, to Albany (Week Six, 52-49) and Iowa (Week Eight, 46-43). Nashville has also lost two of their last three in the supposedly friendly confines.
I'm Sorry...So Sorry... - No amount of apologies from the Storm and from DS Johnnie Harris were good enough, as the league on Wednesday ruled against the Storm in the club's appeal of a one-game suspension and $250 fine handed down to Harris after an incident on Sunday afternoon. Harris became entangled with Florida DS Otis Mounds while covering a Bjorn Nittmo kickoff midway through the third quarter. After the two grappled for a short time, Mounds shoved Harris to the ground. Harris attempted to come back at Mounds, but an official got in the way. In doing so, the official took the brunt of a shove from Harris and the defender was promptly whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct and ejected from the game. League guidelines require a minimum one-game suspension for any intentional contact with an official. Harris will be replaced in the lineup by Alvoid Mays.
Stand By Your Man - It's doubtful that the late Tammy Wynette and Storm coach Tim Marcum have much in common, aside from the fact that she sang about sticking with her man and Marcum did the same with his quarterback, refusing to buckle under fan pressure that mounted throughout the 1997 season regarding the status of then-Arena rookie Peter Tom Willis. At the mere mention of the former Seminole signal-caller's name in 1997, many of the fans would shower boos onto the field. Perhaps they were all Florida Gator alums making the jeers for rivalry's sake, or perhaps they felt the need to express displeasure with his franchise-record 19 interceptions or with the mere fact that he wasn't Jay Gruden. Whatever the reason for the boos in '97 was is not relevant now, because they have been firmly replaced by cheers. Marcum's patience with him has paid off handsomely, as Willis is on pace for 74 touchdown passes---which would not only be a franchise record but would shatter his 41-touchdown total in 1997. With Willis at the helm, the Storm offense has moved with brutal efficiency, leading the league in points with 625. Tampa Bay trailed Arizona by eight points heading into this week, but moved 17 points ahead after Albany held the Rattlers to 34 points Monday night. Perhaps the greatest attribute of Willis, though, is his ability to spread the ball around to various receivers. Four Storm receivers have caught over 400 yards' worth of passes---Stevie Thomas (777), George LaFrance (679), Lawrence Samuels (564) and Wayne Walker (406). Three of the afore-mentioned names---Thomas, LaFrance and Samuels---have hit double-digits in touchdowns, with LaFrance leading the way with 28. You (Are) Always On My Mind... - In this year of milestones for the Storm, it doesn't take a Willie Nelson-eque nasal voice to keep up with the numbers game. Last week against the Bobcats, Stevie Thomas went over 7,000 yards for his career, Johnnie Harris set a league season record for passes defensed with 28 and the team held the Bobcats to 143 yards, the fewest ever allowed by the Storm. Here are some more figures to watch out for in the last three weeks of the season that we hope are always on your mind...Thomas needs seven touchdowns to get to 150 for his career...K Bjorn Nittmo is two 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...FB/LB Les Barley is three scores away from tying the single season team record of 15 rushing touchdowns set by Andre Bowden in 1993.
Achy Breaky Hearts (and Other Body Parts) - WR/DB Cornell Parker (hamstring---IR), WR/DB Kevin Jackson (index finger---IR), OL/DL Sylvester Bembery (ACL/MCL---right knee---IR).
Series History...Sometimes You're the Windshield, Sometimes You're the Bug - That's been the case for the Storm in their series with the Kats. Tampa Bay has twice been the windshield and, earlier this year, became the bug. But no one since the Kats has turned the Storm into a proverbial squashed insect.
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