'It's all or nothing' as Storm seek title
TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Storm hadn't even had time to celebrate their victory Saturday night when Coach Tim Marcum told everyone within earshot exactly what it meant to be American Conference champions. A summation, in two words: absolutely nothing. While other franchises in the Arena Football League might be content with reaching the league's title game, that's not the case with the Storm. Marcum stated that point to all those remaining inside the Forum shortly after Tampa Bay's 63-62 win over Orlando, noting the only banners hanging from the rafters inside the Storm's home venue are those commemorating the franchise's five AFL championship seasons. Division and conference titles are an afterthought.While Saturday's win secured a spot for the Storm in tonight's ArenaBowl XXIII against the Spokane Shock in Spokane, Wash., that's all it did. Marcum expressed that any sense of accomplishment should end knowing the franchise's goal had not been reached - yet. "We're right on board with it," Storm center Robert Powell said of his coach's sentiments. "He expects nothing less than an arena championship, and that's what we strive for. That's been the plan since Day 1. "We're here for the championship. We're not here for a conference championship, we're here for the whole thing. It's all or nothing." The Storm (13-5) should have their hands full with the Shock (15-3), who feature one of the AFL's best offenses, but Marcum is confident in his team, especially after seeing exactly what he wanted early in the week when preparations for tonight's game began. "They've got the burning in their belly, and the passion for it. You can see it in their eyes," Marcum said. "I believe in this team, and I believe they're going to do what they're supposed to do." One thing that would help is a start like Tampa Bay has had in its first two playoff victories, against Tulsa and Orlando. The Storm expect a hostile environment at what is expected to be a soldout Spokane Arena, and taking the ninth man out of the game could provide a huge boost. "It would be great to get the crowd out of the game, because it's like a domino effect," Storm fullback/linebacker Terrence Royal said. "Once the crowd's out, the players are out. Once the players are out, the coaches are out. "And then, we've got the win."
Reporter Adam Adkins can be reached at (813) 259-7616.