Predators look forward to battle against in-state rival Sharks

While the Predators took a loss to the Jacksonville Sharks in their first battle of the season, the Predators come into the game hungry for a win. 

The Predators (3-5) will travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks (4-5) with hopes of gaining some redemption after dropping the first game to the Sharks 45-34 on June 11, nearly coming back from a 32-6 deficit at halftime.

“We’ve got to play four quarters,” head coach Jeff Higgins said. “We’re going to go up there, do our thing and do the best we can.”

The Sharks offense will battle a defense that has become a powerhouse over the course of the season. The Predators’ defenders have placed themselves in every top category including defensive back Joshua Jenkins with a league-leading 44 tackles, lineman  Freddie Booth-Lloyd with seven sacks and defensive back Dalvon Randall with seven interceptions. Defensive end and tight end Sha-Ki Holines is third in the league with 6.5 sacks. 

“We have the best defense, best secondary, best pass rushers in the league,” lineman De’Quan Murray said.

On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Rakeem Cato has made a splash and established a connection with his receivers over the course of the season. Cato has placed himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the league with a statline of 1561 passing yards, 39 touchdowns and six interceptions. Receiver Clarence Williams has become the Predators leading receiver with 43 catches, 509 yards and 13 touchdowns.

The Predators’ special teams unit has seen massive improvement from the start of the year. Kicker Daniel Justino was named the week nine NAL Special Teams Player of the Week after a two-duce performance against San Antonio. 

“Our field goal team has improved as a unit every week and we’re finally where we need to be,” Justino said. “I believe I’ve figured out this different style of kickoff and I’m excited to get after it again this Saturday.”

With a heartbreaking loss behind them, the Predators are hoping to come out with a win on the road that could affect the playoff race at the end of the season. But according to Higgins, the team still has the 0-0 mindset that they’ve carried all season.

“We have the same mindset every week: 0-0,” Higgins said. “Everybody can beat everybody in this league.”

The Predators will take on the Sharks at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Jacksonville at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. The game will be streamed via the NAL YouTube channel.