Editor's Note: GameDay by AthletesLTD provides analyses written by the players in the game! The War on I-4 is an intense rivalry between two teams that have a combined seven Arena Bowl Championships. Read what the players have to say.
Tampa Bay Storm Player Analysis:
By Raymond McNeil, Center
Tampa Bay Storm
Every football players lives for a big rivalry game. There is no bigger rivalry in the Arena Football League than the War on I-4. Arena Football League legends are created in this game. The game on June 21, 2014 has more than playoff implicatins on the line, whichever team wins this game will have Florida bragging rights for the rest of the year.
The Predators come into the game with an 8-5 record and are 1.5 games ahead of us in Division play. The Predators are led by their quarterback, Bernard Morris, who has been on a tear since he took over the signal calling duties. He has thrown 24 touchdowns and only one interception this entire season. His stats are helped by the Predator's stable of wide receivers. One of their receivers that we have to pay close attention to is Khalil Paden. Paden leads the AFL in yards per catch (16.4 yards/reception). For us to win the game, our defense will have to consistently pressure Morris. We need to take him out of his rhythm and the person leading the charge for the Storm is Richard Clebert. Clebert, a seasoned veteran and 2x-Arena Bowl Champion has been disrupting offenses all season. Once the pressure is applied, it will give our cornerback, Jean Fanor, a chance to have another huge game (Fanor leads the AFL in tackles this season).
Offensively, we have been on fire. It all starts on top with Randy Hippeard. Hippeard had a brilliant game last week against the Philadelphia Soul that was capped off with the game winning touchdown scramble in overtime. Winning this game will give us our first five-game winning streak since the 2010 season. Aside from Clebert and Hippeard, we're going to need huge games from Amarii Jackson, Joe Hills, and T.T. Toliver. This rivalry game is bigger than the people playing this game. There have been years of intense games and nail biters and this game should be no different.
Orlando Predator Player Analysis:
By Chris Jamison, Tight End
There are several rivalries in the Arena Football League, but the most passionate and heated of them all is between the Orlando Predators and the Tampa Bay Storm. This game has been branded the War on I-4. The I-4 highway in Florida and a mere 85 miles separates the two teams. I have been engulfed in this bitter rivalry since 2010 and since then the game week preparations have only increased in intensity. This season we have already defeated the Storm twice so they will be coming in with a chip on their shoulder and also want to knock us out of contention for the American Conference's South Division title. Things are about to get real.
This rivalry has produced many intense and compelling games. As a rookie, the first time I played in Tampa Bay there were 17,000 screaming fans waiting to see the Predators come out victorious. Two weeks later in another chapter of this rivalry, after fighting back furiously and ultimately missing a field goal, Tampa Bay won by one and advanced to the Arena Bowl. That game still stings me to this day.
Each game it seems we take turns winning and the overall record of this rivalry is showing of that because the Predators only have a two-game advantage; both of those games were won this season. This game is bitterly contested and unmatched by any other rivalry in Arena Football.
Tampa Bay's team is very talented this year and they have one of the strongest receiving corps in the AFL. The only thing better than their receiving corps is their defensive front. After analyzing Tampa Bay's game film it is evident that they're getting better every week so the team we're playing on June 21 is not the same team we played earlier this season. But we have improved as well. We're better, stronger, and more disciplined than we were during the last War on I-4. Their receivers are talented, but so are ours and we're ready to rise to the occasion. This is going to be an exciting game reminiscent of the old battles of Orlando and Tampa Bay. If you want to watch good football, tune in.