Flippers First Look: Preds In Position For Playoffs With Win Over Carolina

Orlando, Fla -- The Orlando Predators (3-3) are set to hit the road for their final game away from home this season versus the Carolina Cobras (1-3) on Saturday, July 17th at 7:00 PM in Greensboro, NC.

Heading into the matchup, Orlando are winners of two in a row, elevating the team to third place overall in the National Arena League standings. The Predators now hold the tiebreaker over the Jacksonville Sharks and New Jersey Flight, defeating both teams within the past two weeks. 

“We’ve accomplished a lot, but we haven’t finished what we started.” said head coach Ben Bennett. 

In Orlando’s last outing, the team crept past the New Jersey Flight 32-12 following a 23 point fourth quarter. The Predators defense played very well, not allowing a score in the second half.

The defense also stood tall in key situations, only allowing Jersey to convert 14% of their third down attempts (1/7) and a donut on fourth down (0/2). Statically, defensive coordinator Roy Stabler’s group accounted for 11 pass break ups, two interceptions and a sack to cap off their most complete game of the season.

A 16-yard pick six by defensive back Brandon Fuentes helped propel the Orlando Predators to victory.

Former UCF kicker Dylan Barnas signed with the team last week and had a very notable debut, converting a deuce during his first career kickoff.

“It was good to be back in front of a crowd. I honestly was blessed to play in front of Knight Nation at UCF, who are crazy in their own right.” said Barnas. “That atmosphere is  unmatched, so getting a similar feeling in a smaller arena where it’s enclosed…it gets a little loud, it gets a little rowdy and it was a great feeling to get back out there and see a few familiar faces.” 

Although the Preds offense did struggle in some capacity, quarterback Patrick O’Brien was able to run for three scores, tallying his stats to eight total touchdowns in just two games as an Orlando Predator. 

“He’s strong and he’s got a nose for the end zone.” Bennet said about his quarterback. On the contrary, O’Brien threw three interceptions in the teams despite the team's winning effort, so an emphasis on protecting the football was also mentioned by coach Bennet when he appeared live on Monday’s episode of “The Breakdown” at Ace Cafe Orlando. 

Despite the turnovers, Bennett was impressed with the play of his quarterback, particularly in the ground game. Coach also made mention of running back Desmond Maxwell, who finished his performance versus Jersey with 46 rushing yards. 

“Truthfully, I think he’s the best running back in the league. Normally teams don’t run the ball because they don’t believe in it or they don’t have the guy that can run it.” said Bennett. “Not only do I believe in it (because it slows down the pass rush and takes the pressure off the QB), we got a guy that can really carry it. Once we get him shaking and turn him loose, he’s going to make some things happen, which he has a ton this season.”

The Black and Red have racked up 178 total rushing yards throughout their six game stretch, ranking second in the entire league. Bennett certainly practices what he preaches on the offensive side of the ball. 

The Preds have a recipe for success after playing well in all three phases, the offense just has to be a bit more consistent. Overall, Orlando ranks second in total offense.

Carolina was just a catch away from winning their first home game against the Jacksonville Sharks last Saturday, but lost 54-52. The Cobras struck up 28 points that almost helped them top the Sharks, although their efforts fell just short. Carolina was able to rally in the fourth quarter similar to how Orlando did versus New Jersey. 

If Orlando pulls out a victory versus Carolina, it will be the Preds third straight victory and put them in prime position to secure a playoff berth since they will be the third ranked team in the NAL.

Injury Report: Orlando Predators (3-3) 

The Orlando Predators have one player listed on their injury report for week 8. Orlando is currently ranked third in the NAL. 

DB- Josh Jenkins, Groin (Probable)

Injury Report: Carolina Cobras (1-4)

The Carolina Cobras have several players out and several listed as either questionable, probable, or doubtful for this week. The Cobras are ranked sixth in the NAL.

WR- Thyron Lewis, Back - (Out)

DL Brandon Sutton, Hand -(Out)

OL Jordan Harris, Knee - (Questionable) 

DL David Johnson, Knee - (Probable)

QB/WR James Summers, Ankle - (Questionable)

DB Brandon Rowland, Hip - (Probable)

 K TC Stevens, Hand - (Probable) 

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.