By Shane Austin, Quarterback
Playoffs finally clinched, but it still feels like a playoff atmosphere. Tampa Bay comes into Cleveland this week coming off a 5-game win streak. Playoffs are within their grasps and in their control so they’re coming in hot. This is our first matchup against the Storm this season. And let me tell you, it feels good to finally play a new team for a change. Lately, we have been having a lot of rematches but this is the first of two meetings with the Storm. We will play them one more time this season in the final week before playoffs. So this game is an important one for both teams especially with Pittsburgh breathing down our necks in the division (American Conference’s East Division). Even though we’re already playing the Storm twice before seasons end, there is still the chance of facing Tampa for a third time in the playoffs.
In my opinion, this game is going to come down to defense. They have a very solid defense and have been excellent at holding opponents to low scores during their recent win streak. In order to win this Friday at the Q Arena, our offense is going to have to be sharp and execute at all levels. Like any game, the team that executes the best will most likely take the victory. So our goal will be the same it has been every week, to do our job through great execution and go 1-0 this week. All in all, it should be a great battle between the Gladiators and the Storm this Friday. Can't wait!
#GameDaySong: Sam Smith - Money on my Mind
Tampa Bay Storm GameDay Analysis:
By Raymond McNeil, Center
Tampa Bay Storm
When you’re presented with a challenge you either back down or rise to the occasion. This week my team and I will rise to the occasion against the 12-1 Cleveland Gladiators. The Gladiators have been nicknamed the "Cardiac Kids" of the Arena Football League. Earlier this season the Gladiators were down 35 points in the fourth quarter but still managed to come back and beat a very good Philadelphia Soul team. Lightning struck again against the Soul when the Gladiators won their last game with a 47-yard Hail Mary pass as time expired. This simply tells me that the Gladiators are willing to fight the whole game no matter what the score. Quarterback Shane Austin leads them. Austin has thrown for over 3,000 yards already this season, is an extremely accurate passer and knows how to move the offense down the field. Two of Austin’s biggest targets are Thyron Lewis and Dominic Goodman. Both receivers are in the Top-10 of every major receiving category in the AFL. Cleveland is a very good football team and they will be a big test for us to see exactly how good we really are and how much we can fight.
For us to come out victorious, we will need another big game out of quarterback Randy Hippeard. Hippeard has continued to play well week in and week out. Because of Cleveland’s Austin, we will also need a big game out of our secondary. Leading the secondary as of late has been defensive back James Harrell. Harrell came in clutch during our victory last week with two big interceptions late in the game. But we are ready for this week. My team was on a 5-game losing streak and was sitting on a 3-6 record. We dropped all the way to the 12th spot in the league rankings but we have managed to claw our way back and win 5-straight. I’m really looking forward to this game because both teams have a "Don’t quit mentality" so make sure if you watch this game that you watch it until the clock says zero because you never know what can happen in Arena Football.