A month and a half ago, tonight's season finale between the Storm and Jacksonville had the makings of a game that would decide the South Division title.
After a 65-62 win at Iowa on June 1, the Storm was 7-4 and trailed the Sharks by one game. Then the bottom dropped out of its season. A club-record six straight losses has the Storm reeling as it travels to face the Sharks. Despite the skid, Tampa Bay qualified for the playoffs last week because of a New Orleans loss.
"No one wants to go into the playoffs heading down," Storm coach Dave Ewart said. "We've got to get back on the winning track, especially after the way we played offensively last week."
In a 48-37 loss to Pittsburgh, QB Randy Hippeard was sacked five times and tossed an interception, and the offense turned the ball over on downs six times. Hippeard took over for Adrian McPherson, who hyperextended his right knee June 15 against New Orleans. "It all starts with protection, and we didn't do a very good job," Ewart said.
With a playoff berth locked up, Ewart said he will tinker with the lineup, most notably at quarterback. Though he didn't say who would start, Shane Boyd is expected to see significant time.
"Shane out of training camp was neck and neck with (McPherson)," Ewart said of the second-year player out of Kentucky. "It was a very difficult decision."
'Beast' rolls: Joe Hills needs 33 receiving yards to break Hank Edwards' team season record of 1,749, set in 2010. Hills also has caught a TD pass in 19 straight games dating to last season. "(Hills) is a beast," Ewart said. "He plays hard and practices hard. He does all the right things you want your guys to do to be successful."
Transactions: The Storm re-signed defensive back and Plant High grad James Harrell, DB Donald Smith, DL Dre Moore and WR DeAngelo Woodie. It activated WR Justin Hilton from the other league exempt list. It placed WR Michael Lindsay and WR Chris Davis on inactive reserve and DB De'Audra Dix on injured reserve.