FLIPPERS FIRST LOOK: PREDS PREPARE FOR ROAD TRIP VS NEW JERSEY FLIGHT
June 24, 2021
Flippers First Look: Preds Prepare For Road Trip VS New Jersey Flight
Orlando, FLA -- The Orlando Predators (1-2) are set to travel north to take on the New Jersey Flight (1-3) on Friday, June 25th at 7 PM at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, NJ.
The Preds are coming off their first home game of the year at the Amway Center, which resulted in a 68-40 loss to the undefeated Albany Empire (4-0).
“We’re always excited to play, (especially in the Amway it doesn’t get much better than this)" said Predators quarterback Bryan Hicks after the game. "We were excited for sure, just came up a little bit short.”
Despite the loss, head coach Ben Bennett’s squad put up a formidable effort against the No. 1 ranked offense in the National Arena League (67 PPG).
The Black and Red’s defense was able to turnover the Empire after an interception by defensive back Josh Jenkins in the second quarter, but could not coral any other key stops after the big play.
“One of the best defensive backs in the league" said Bennet about Jenkins' play thus far.
Jenkins places second on the team with 10 total tackles, followed behind defensive back Brandon Fuentes' 15 total stops.
As an offensive unit, Orlando seems to have found a bit of a rhythm.
Quarterback Bryan Hicks sits fourth overall in the NAL in passing, posting up 202 yards per game, and third overall in touchdown passes with 18.
Wide receiver Donavan Raspberry leads all Preds pass catchers with averaging 65.0 yards per game on his 20 receptions and four scores. Receiver DJ Myers leads the team in touchdown catches with eight house calls so far on the season.
Unfortunately for the Predators, both Hicks and Raspberry will be sidelined against the Flight on Friday night.
Backup Faustino Saucedo will be getting his first career start at quarterback for Orlando in this one.
Saucedo saw some game action last week versus the Empire in the third quarter when Hicks had to be sidelined. Saucedo completed a pass for eight yards and also had a rushing attempt before Hicks returned in the fourth quarter.
Orlando will be looking to rebound against the New Jersey Flight who won their first game of the year in last week’s matchup versus the Carolina Cobras.
After three consecutive home games, the Flight embarked on their first road trip of the year and came out on top in Carolina 65-7.
Wide receiver Jared Dangerfield contributed to the win with three touchdowns. Receiver Larry Beavers led the team receiving with nine catches on the night.
Similar to the Empire, New Jersey’s receiving core appears to be the strength of the team's roster.
Orlando has had trouble defending against the pass this season, allowing 255.7 passing yards per game, falling in the bottom half of the league. Improvements in the back end must take place if the Preds want to have an advantage on the road.
Prior to the matchup against the Flight, the Predators have parted ways with kicker Jorge Leon.
The Preds have converted on 54.5% of their PAT’s, and are 0-1 when attempting FG’s, both ranking last in the NAL.
Orlando also released wide receiver Rob Banks (2019 Second Team All-NAL) earlier in the week as well.
In Banks' absense, Dezmond Epps led all Preds receivers with 13 catches for 123 yards in his first start against Albany.
Ben Bennett and the coaching staff are luckily deep at the receiver position with, three of the teams top wide receivers (Myers, Raspberry and Epps) performing well over the three game start, and accumulated at least one score.
Troy Grant made the transition from offense to defense, tallying a tackle in his performance. When he was at wide receiver, Grant caught three passes for 18 yards and a touchdown in the first two games before making the switch. Grant is also expected to take snaps at receiver versus New Jersey.
Orlando currently sits at a tie for third place with Carolina in the NAL standings with a 1-2 record.
A win on the road in New Jersey would allow the Preds to break even on the season with a .500 record (2-2) and likely solidify their spot at third place in the league.
About the Orlando Predators:
The Orlando Predators are a professional Arena Football team based in Orlando, Florida and a member of the National Arena League (NAL). The team was founded in 1991 as an expansion team of the Arena Football League (AFL). The team advanced to the playoffs 19 consecutive seasons between 1992 and 2011, becoming the Arena Bowl champions in 1998 and 2000 during that span. The team plays their home games at the Amway Center in beautiful downtown Orlando, FL. For more information about the Orlando Predators visit www.orlandopredatorsfootball.com.