Warriors’ playoff push begins with Storm

Alex Hider

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As the Portsmouth Warriors prepare to take on the West Virginia Storm for the second time this season, they hope that this weekend’s matchup is just as uneventful as the first. This time, there’s a lot more on the line.

Looking for a third straight conference championship and their first-ever league championship, the Warriors open their 2015 postseason at home against the Storm on Saturday evening in the second round of the Blue Collar Football League playoffs.

In week three, the Warriors pummeled the Storm to the tune of 64-2 in Spartan Stadium. Portsmouth jumped out to an early lead on the arm of quarterback Justin Lunsford, who passed for big yardage in the first half of the May 30 contest. After the Warriors held a 33-2 lead at halftime, both teams mutually agreed to use a running clock for the second half of the game.

However, the Storm have acquired a number of key assets in the months since their loss to the Warriors, especially on the offensive line. Thanks to the dismantling of the West Virginia Tar Heels, the Storm have bolstered their numbers and improved their depth throughout their roster.

“That was definitely a problem for them (the first time we played them),” Rice said.

Reinvigorated by the newcomers, the Storm won two of their final three games (including a 30-6 win over the Bulldogs in week nine), and blanked the Carter County Wildcats 40-0 last week in the first round of the BCFL Playoffs.

Rice and his coaching staff still have not been able to find a game film for the Storm, but they’re confident in their system — use the run to set up the pass, and let the defense do it’s thing.

“The defense has really come together the last few weeks,” Rice said. “It’s not a defense that I would want to go against.”

Saturday’s game will be the Warriors’ first since Aug. 1, a 38-8 win over the Southern Ohio Spartans. Since then, Portsmouth has enjoyed two weeks off and gotten all of its players healthy besides wide receiver Chris Stamper, who will miss Saturday’s game with a knee injury.

Portsmouth will also be keeping an eye on the other BCFL Eastern Conference Playoff Game, as the Southern Ohio Spartans travel to face the second-seeded West Virginia Lightning. If the Warriors can weather the Storm, they’ll host the winner of that game at home on Aug. 22 for a spot in the BCFL Championship Game.

Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter

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