Higgins gets first win, Predators take down Gunslingers 44-36
The Jeff Higgins Era in Orlando started off on a high note as the Predators defeated the San
Antonio Gunslingers on Saturday.
The Predators (1-0) defeated the Gunslingers (0-1) 44-36 in the season opener. Higgins said it
was a good first step in the right direction for the team with hopes of going all the way.
“They say, ‘you can’t win them all until you win the first one,’” Higgins said. “Everybody did a
great job staying together. It was a great time out here tonight.”
The Predators had a strong first half of play, on both the offensive and defensive sides of the
ball. After the Gunslingers got on the board first with a touchdown in the opening drive of the
first quarter, the Predators came rolling back and scored 32 unanswered points through the
remainder of the half.
During the half, quarterback Rakeem Cato became a force to be reckoned with by throwing four
first-half touchdowns. Cato said he feels confident in what the offense can produce going
“I’m feeling good right now,” Cato said. “I can’t complain. I’m just trying to take it one practice at
a time, one game at a time. Coach Higgins and the guys have done a great job of catching me
up to speed and alerting my eyes to what I’m going to be seeing over the course of the season.”
The second half leaned in favor of the Gunslingers as they were able to outscore the Predators
30-12, but the team was able to stand their ground and come out of San Antonio with the win.
Defensive back Joshua Jenkins, who made several plays, including a pick-six in the second
quarter, said he is enthused by the discipline of the defensive unit to pull out the win.
“Through adversity, you have to be able to control what you can control,” Jenkins said. “I think
we did a really good job keeping our heads and being able to keep playing. Even though we let
them back in the game, we decided to close it when we needed to.”
One mission going into the matchup was the ability to secure a win for Higgins in his head
coaching debut, according to center De’quan Murray.
“It’s really big,” Murray said. “It’s a confidence builder for him and it’s a confidence builder for us.
He’s excited, he’s pumped up and we’re going to enjoy tonight and we’re going to take it all
back to these palm trees, baby.”
With the Carolina Cobras (1-0) coming off of a win against the reigning NAL Champions, the
Albany Empire (0-1), wide receiver and defensive back Brandon Fuentes said the Predators are
looking forward to a hard-fought game when they travel to Greensboro, N.C.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, but we’re up for it,” Fuentes said. “We’re excited to take that
challenge and come out on top.”