Third time not the charm: Predators complete season sweep of Storm
Let’s be honest, does 8-10 really sound that much better than 7-11? Would a win in Orlando on Saturday really have changed the overall feel of this 2015 Tampa Bay Storm season? No. This answer is absolutely not.
This is about the bigger picture.
For the fifth straight season, the Storm finished with a sub .500 record. For the second straight season, the Storm missed the playoffs. And for the first time in franchise history, the Storm lost three games to the arch-rival Orlando Predators. Ouch.
While it may have been nice for the Storm to head into the offseason on a winning streak, the Predators made sure that wasn’t going to happen with a convincing 59-40 victory. The Storm led once, by three points, the entire game. In fact, if there was ever a play that summed up this Storm team it was that exact play which gave them the advantage.
Julius Gregory caught a 16-yard touchdown pass to give Tampa Bay 27-24 lead in the final minutes of the first half. The raucous Amway Center crowd of over 15,000 was hushed and it appeared to be a complete momentum swing in favor of the Storm. So naturally, the ensuing extra point was blocked and returned by the Predators for two points. Something positive, always comes with something negative it seems this season for the Storm. The 27-26 lead would be the last lead the Storm would have in this game.
Jason Boltus led the Storm offensive charge completing 26-of-45 passes for 300 yards and five touchdowns. Boltus finished the season with 5,025 passing yards surpassing Shane Stafford (4,793) for second all-time in Storm single-season history. A nice accomplishment for Boltus in a season, even he would say was a bit shaky.
Still pondering that offseason quarterback swap between the Storm and Predators? Perhaps the toughest part for Storm fans to watch throughout the course of this “War on I-4” sweep by Orlando was the play of Predators (and ex-Storm) quarterback Randy Hippeard. Hippeard shined in all three meetings with the Storm helping his team put up 63, 69, and now 59 points respectively. Hippeard was again clicking on this night completing 23-of-30 passes for 255 yards and six touchdowns.
While the emergence of rookie wide receivers Julius Gregory, who caught three touchdowns in the loss, and Kendrick Ings certainly stand out as bright spots in a lost season for the Storm, this was plain and simple another mediocre season. A season that shouldn’t be accepted and a season that warrants change.
The Tampa Bay Storm have reached a new, historic low.