Tampa Bay Sports Day

AFL: Tampa Bay Storm Faces Philadelphia Soul Saturday  

Storm defensive linemen Caesar Rayford (85) and Jordan Miller (99) tackling Soul fullback Mykel Benson (9) on April 15, 2017. (Photo by Scott Audette/Tampa Bay Storm)  

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Storm (7-1) heads to the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Philadelphia Soul (8-0) this Saturday, June 17th at Wells Fargo Center.  A win for Tampa Bay, combined with a Baltimore Brigade loss, will clinch a first round postseason home game for the Storm; its first home postseason game since the 2010 season. 
 
This will be the second matchup of the 2017 season between the Storm and Soul, and first in Philadelphia.  Tampa Bay has a losing record of 5-13 against Philadelphia.  Last time out, Tampa Bay lost by a score of 56-52.  The Storm is 1-8 when playing the Soul on the road.
 
After earning its 24th postseason appearance last week, the Storm will set its sights to clinching a home playoff game this weekend.  A win over the Soul, coupled with a Baltimore loss, will do just that.  If the Storm host a postseason game, it will be the first time since 2010, the year the team made an appearance in ArenaBowl XXIII.
 
This past weekend, the Storm showed it can prevail through adversity.  At one point, the Storm trailed the Valor by 11 points, but Tampa Bay continued to push through, grinding out a victory.  Down by two points with under three minutes remaining in regulation, the Storm defense held strong, forcing a safety to tie the game at 51. 
 
Storm wide receiver Joe Hills would go on to catch the game-winning touchdown with 1:45 left in regulation.  He finished the night with 13 catches for 124 yards and three touchdowns.  This was his sixth straight game with two or more touchdowns and he has at least 10 or more receptions with over 100 yards in five of the last six games.  Hills has also caught a touchdown in 76 consecutive games played, needing just three more to break the record held by Damian Harrell (78).
 
The Soul enters the game with the best scoring offense in the League, averaging 59.4 points per game.  This is 6.8 points more than the Storm (52.6).  Much of the success is due to the tandem of quarterback Dan Raudabaugh and wide receiver Darius Reynolds.  Reynolds leads the team with 22 receiving touchdowns, eight more than his teammate Ryan McDaniel who is second on the team with 14. 
 
Philadelphia also boasts the top offensive line in the League, allowing just three sacks through eight games.  This helps with the team’s quick strike offense where the ball is released a little over a second after Raudabaugh receives the snap.  The key to success on defense for the Storm is make Raudabaugh uncomfortable in the pocket and push him off his mark.  If the team can do that, it should free up the backfield to fly around and prevent completions.
 
Ultimately, each team will come into the game looking to cement itself as the top team in the League.  Philadelphia is riding a 12-game win streak dating back to last season.  The last time it lost was June 17, 2016, and the Storm will be looking to make sure history repeats itself exactly 365 days later.