Week off gives Storm chance to heal

05/04/02 Sioux Falls Argus Leader
In Mike Aldrich's perfect universe, his Sioux Falls Storm would have happened upon this bye about a week or two ago. It would have been prime injury-healing time and, considering the way the Storm flagged in the closing minutes of last Saturday's loss to Omaha, even the healthy players were craving a pit stop.

But the schedule-making gods deemed that this would be Sioux Falls' open week. And while it may not be perfect timing, it does lend a certain symmetry to the Storm's season. After going 5-2 during the first half of the year, Sioux Falls will close out the regular season with seven more games, six of which will be rematch contests.

And the Storm could get off to a rolling restart. Its next two games - against the Lincoln (Neb.) Capitols, then the Bismarck (N.D.) Roughriders - will both be at the Arena, where the Storm is unbeaten this season.

"It really does set up pretty nicely," Aldrich said. "If you could schedule it, having a bye and two straight home games really works out good."

Having a flush-with-health roster wouldn't hurt, either. Aldrich expects both wideout Chad Gomarko, out six weeks with a concussion, and leading rusher David Ruter, sidelined for three games with a knee injury, to return for the Lincoln game.

It's been a light week for the Storm. After watching film of the Omaha loss on Sunday, the team practiced on Tuesday - and hasn't met since then. Preparations for next Saturday's game will begin on Sunday.

"We're trying to give the guys four or five days just to kind of recuperate and recharge their batteries," Aldrich said. "I think we all need that."

Although Sioux Falls has won all four of its Pacific West Division games this season, it's in second place in the standings. Billings, which the Storm creamed 51-31 in March, has since gone unbeaten. The Outlaws are in first place at 6-1. (Those clubs will meet again in Montana on the first day of June.)

Despite last week's disappointing setback - Omaha scored three touchdowns in the final six minutes - Aldrich was upbeat.

"All in all, I'm very pleased with where we're at. We're going to have two straight home games, and we'll hopefully be 100 percent healthy. I think the rest of the season looks pretty good for us."

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