First-round playoff games can be fraught with intrigue. And the Avenger-Tampa Bay Storm contest, one of four Arena Football League wild-card games this weekend, is no exception.
The Avengers, in their third season, are in the Arena playoffs for the first time. Their 8-6 record and third-place finish in the Western Division under first-year Coach Ed Hodgkiss earned them the fifth seeding.
Though the franchise is young, several Avengers, among them running back Chad Dukes, have extensive postseason experience.
"[Today] is a huge game not only for the organization, but the morale of the team in the future," said Dukes, a four-year Arena veteran. "I remember my first playoff game [in 1996], and I felt I was still trying to catch up to where the rest of the team was. So I busted my butt on every play. That's what I hope to relate to the newer guys."
Tampa Bay stumbled to a 6-8 record and sneaked into the playoffs seeded 12th and last. But the Storm is appearing in its 12th consecutive postseason, an Arena record.