04/19/2012 1:38 PM
PHILADELPHIA –The Philadelphia Soul (4-1) take on the Tampa Bay Storm (3-2) as they wrap up their two-game home stand. The two clubs have battled to a 3-3 series tie, with the home team only losing once. Tampa looks to hand Philadelphia their first loss against a Southern Division team this season.
The Soul are currently in a two-way tie for the best record in the Arena Football League with the Chicago Rush. Philadelphia had back-to-back impressive outings in a blow out against the Georgia Force on the road and holding off a late rally by the San Jose SaberCats at home.
Philadelphia turns their attention to Tampa Bay with kickoff set for 8 p.m. on Friday, April 20 at the Wells Fargo Center on NFL Network’s “NET10 Arena Football Friday”. The game can be heard on 950 ESPN Radio with play-by-play announcer Matt Martucci and color commentator Barrett Brooks.
Once again the Soul sit atop the Coaches’ Poll. Philadelphia dropped their home opener to Cleveland after being named No. 1 earlier that same week. The Soul look to perform better the second time around. Despite their one disappointing performance in the home opener, the Soul have performed consistently at a high level, ranking atop the league in multiple categories offensively and defensively.
Tampa is another story. The club has steadily improved over the weeks and worked their way into the latest Coaches’ Poll for the first time this season, earning a spot at No. 9. Quarterback Stephen Wasil leads the team offensively not just in passing, but rushing as well.
“Tampa is a team that you cannot underestimate. They have improved as the season has continued on,” said Soul head coach Doug Plank. “They have a good leader on offense in Wasil. He’s been able to find success throwing and running against teams this season. He’s a player we will have to have accounted for on every snap.”
Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh continued his strong performances with another impressive outing that kept him among the league’s top quarterbacks. Through five games, Raudabaugh has completed 96-of-149 attempts for 1,293 yards and 33 touchdowns. Raudabaugh ranks No. 2 in the AFL for pass efficiency (123.1), total offense average yards per play (8.5), No. 6 in total offense touchdowns (33), and No. 10 in total offensive yards (1297). Thanks to Raudabaugh’s contributions, the Soul offense is ranked No. 1 in terms of scoring (362) and No. 8 in total offense (1,556).
Once again, the team can still count on the Cutter’s Catch of the Week player WR Tiger Jones for big plays. Jones has taken control of the receiving corps since the Soul lost WR Donovan Morgan to a wrist injury. Jones currently sits at No. 3 for receiving yards per game with an average of 119.6 yards. Jones has a total of 598 yards on 38 catches for 13 touchdowns.
Derrick Ross will lead the Soul’s No. 1 rushing offense (210) against the No. 3 rushing defense in the AFL. He has 161 yards on 43 carries for 10 touchdowns in 2012. Ross was a key factor in the Soul’s last outing against the San Jose SaberCats, as his 39-yard touchdown reception to close the first half sparked a comeback victory for Philadelphia.
The Soul will have to keep an eye on Tampa Bay’s dual-threat quarterback Stephen Wasil. Wasil has led Tampa Bay by completing 124-of-204 passes for 1,495 yards and 28 touchdowns for a rating of 99.20 and has carried the ball 21 times for 41 yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers rank Wasil tied for No. 2 in rushing touchdowns (7) and No. 6 in passing yards per game (299.0) and rushing attempts (21).
The Soul are tied with the Chicago Rush at 4-1 for the lead of the AFL, but are only ahead of division rival Cleveland by one game. A victory puts distance between them and the Soul. Philadelphia could claim sole possession of first place in the entire League with a win and a Chicago loss to Milwaukee on Saturday.