1999 Results | Game Coverage

Storm   at   Bobcats
(0-1) (0-1)

Who: Tampa Bay Storm at Florida Bobcats
When: Friday, April 16, 1999, 7:40 p.m. EDT
Where: National Car Rental Center, Sunrise, Fla.
TV Coverage: None.
Radio Coverage: TBA (none in Tampa-St. Petersburg).

One to Watch...

Jason Dulick
WR/DB Jason Dulick led the Storm in receiving last week, catching four passes for 62 yards and a score. His efforts were singled out by Storm coach Tim Marcum as superlative. Photo by Chris Arnold.

Kicking Off...

The preseason closes with the first Arena Football League contest in the brief history of the National Car Rental Center as the Storm and Bobcats face off in a divisional and intra-state matchup. Florida hopes to finally settle down after a transient three-year existence based out of West Palm Beach and a tumultuous offseason that saw head coach Rick Buffington be fired and replaced by former Orlando coach Perry Moss, who quit himself last month. Former Miami Dolphin tight end and Arizona Rattler offensive coordinator Bruce Hardy is now calling the shots, assisted by former Bobcat head coach Jim Jensen, who coached the team to a 6-8 record in 1996, the franchise's best record since it was known as the Denver Dynamite from 1987 to 1991.

The Coaches...

Florida - Bruce Hardy, first AFL season.

Tampa Bay - Tim Marcum, 51-14 in his fifth season with the Storm, 106-26 in ten AFL seasons.

In 1999...

Florida (0-1) - Lost to Buffalo 24-17.

Tampa Bay (0-1) - Lost to Orlando 45-39.

The Bobcats: Home at Last

With Friday night's game at the gleaming National Car Rental Center, the Bobcats' meandering trip across America, the football equivalent of Moses leading the Israelites through the desert, has ended. While the Bobcats played a full home slate at the tiny West Palm Beach Audtorium (a.k.a. "The Leaky Teepee" in 1996, they spent 1997 and 1998 playing "home games" in Los Angeles, Boston, Ottawa, Des Moines, Kansas City, Tampa and even the Polk County metropolis that is Lakeland.

Friday night represents the beginning of a resolution of the Bobcat odyssey, as this season will prove to be a penultimate test of whether this franchise will survive into the next milennium. There is no longer the excuse of playing in a substandard facility---in fact, it is this situation which owner Bruce Frey has pointed to for three years. Like the afore-mentioned Moses, he has shepherded his flock to what he has billed as the promised land, a state-of-the-art arena with a larger population base and, thus, a fighting chance at inching towards profitability and long-term viability as a worthy rival to the state's Arena Football powers in Tampa and Orlando.

The trek began when Frey and Christian broadcasting magnate Lowell "Bud" Paxson bought the Miami Hooters franchise, moved it 80 miles up the Gold Coast to West Palm Beach, and rechristened the club to its current nickname. At the time, West Palm Beach had plans to build a 12,000-seat arena to house the Bobcats and the city's CBA and Sunshine Hockey League franchises. Neither franchise survived past 1996, and, by 1997, the idea for an arena had died, too, taking with it any chance the Arena League club had of fiscal success.

From that point on, the goal was to survive until finalizing a lease agreement with the new arena going up in Sunrise, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. The team would play just six more games at the Auditorium, drawing league-record low crowds in the process. Even those attendance totals appeared to be generously padded; an announced crowd of 2,062 for the Storm-Bobcats game last May appeared by the count of multiple writers in the press box to be around 800, including the Storm fans who comprised over 10 percent of the audience.

Has the journey been worth it? Will the promised land of Broward County be for real or merely a mirage in the desert of debt and losses? Friday, the Bobcats and the AFL will begin to discover the answer to this three-year conundrum.

Noting the Storm...

Roster Moves - The Storm welcomed back linemen Terry Beauford and Steve Houghton this week, activating them both off of the Refused to Report list. To make room, the Storm placed OL/DL Keo Coleman on the suspended list for unspecified reasons and waived QB Willie Taggart. Taggart, perhaps humbled by his 0-for-4, one-interception effort at the end of last Saturday's loss to Orlando, will likely try his luck in the CFL, where he, as a running quarterback, will be more likely to find a measure of success.

Our Coverage...

Andrew Mason will be at the National Car Rental Center to witness the game. However, he won't have a computer in front of him. Our reports will come via a telephone relay connecting him with Joe Kauffman back in St. Petersburg. We will have a full box score on-line as soon as it is FAXed from the arena to St. Petersburg, and will provide a full game summary as soon as circumstances allow. We do promise, though, that for the regular season game in Sunrise in June, that we will have full live coverage and stats.

Series History...

In their current incarnation as the Florida Bobcats, these clubs have met six times, twice in 1996, 1997 and 1998, with Tampa Bay holding a 6-0 edge. The Storm also won the teams' lone preseason encounter last spring at the Ice Palace. But the history of the Bobcats franchise goes back further than 1996. 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 cranks 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 wins 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 scores 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

  • 07/26/97 - Tampa Bay 48, Florida 22 - Highlights: Storm wins as FB/LB Andre Bowden scores a Storm-record tying four rushing touchdowns and DS Tracey Perkins makes his Arena Football-record breaking 12th interception of the season. Game Coverage

  • 05/23/98 - Tampa Bay 44, Florida 29 - Highlights: LaFrance goes over 500-catch mark and 1,000-point total for his career on consecutive second quarter plays; LaFrance's 54-yard missed field goal return on untimed down at end of first half boosts Storm's lead to insurmountable 38-15 edge. Game Coverage

  • 07/12/98 - Tampa Bay 59, Florida 18 - Highlights: Storm overcomes sluggish start in front of a national television audience watching on ESPN; Johnnie Harris tossed from game in third quarter for shoving an official; Storm allows a franchise-low 143 total yards. Game Coverage

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