TAMPA — Tampa Bay travels to Orlando for the latest installment of the "War on I-4" and in what has been the case over the years, the series is tight and tonight's game carries significant weight.
"We're familiar with their personnel and they are familiar with us," Storm coach Lawrence Samuels said. "They've been a little up and down just like we have. Basically, it's going to be a chess match out there."
The Predators took a 27-26 lead in the series after beating the Storm 56-52 on March 29 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Orlando scored two touchdowns in the final 50 seconds and the Storm had a costly fumble on its final possession.
"We have to be better at finishing," Samuels said.
Tonight's game has huge implications in the South Division. With both teams at 3-2, the winner will take a one-game lead with a third of the 18 game season completed.
Can I kick it? Geoff Boyer has stabilized the kicking game after just two weeks with the team. Boyer is 14-of-15 on extra points since joining the Storm before the Philadelphia game this month. The kicker Boyer replaced, Carlos Lopez, was just 18-of-23 before being waived.
"(Boyer's) been very consistent on extra points," Samuels said. "Now the key for him is to get a few more kicks to the nets (on kickoffs), but he's been very good overall."
Record watch: WR Michael Lindsey enters tonight's game with a league-best 599 kickoff return yards and is on pace to shatter his single-season team record of 1,745 yards. Lindsey, who starred at Boca Ciega and is in his fourth year with the Storm, is 144 yards shy of breaking AFL Hall of Famer George LaFrance's team record for career kickoff return yards.
Welcome back, Joe: Joe Hills, who set franchise single-season records for receptions (133), receiving yards (1,861), receiving touchdowns (42) and points scored (262) last season, returned last week against Jacksonville after missing the first four games following offseason knee surgery. Hills, a first-team All-Arena WR in 2013, caught four balls for 52 yards and a score against the Sharks but also had a few drops.
"He looked a little rusty coming out of the gate," Samuels said. "But we know Joe and what he can do. He's going to get better and better every week."
Sack-less: A week after facing one of the league's best pass rushes, Tampa Bay faces the AFL's worst tonight. Orlando has one sack through five games. NG Richard Clebert got his fourth sack of the year last week against Jacksonville, moving the former USF standout to fourth best in the league.