Orlando Predators open up season against Philadelphia Soul


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Greg Carr won AFL Rookie of the Year in 2014 and will look to build on that success in 2015.

After their first offseason under the new ownership of David Siegel, the Orlando Predators will return to the arena football field to face the Philadelphia Soul on Sunday, March 28 at the Amway Center and will be televised on ESPN2.

The Predators finished their first season under head coach Rob Keefe 11-7 during 2014, but lost in the American Conference Championship against the Cleveland Gladiators 56-46.

Orlando and Philadelphia have met 14 times with the Soul leading the series 11-3.

The organization has everything to prove with this season to their new owners and a win at the season opener at their righteous home would make the organizations very happy with each other.

At this time last season, the team was practicing in a ditch-ridden field with converted classrooms as offices. Now, the team enjoys facilities at the Citrus Bowl with offices that lead right on to the brand new turf.

The new ownership has done well for the team allowing the change in facilities as well as the move back to the Amway.

The Soul went 9-9 last season but made it to the ArenaBowl during the 2013 season. In 2008, Philadelphia won ArenaBowl XXII with none other than Rob Keefe playing defensive back and Predators wide Receiver Larry Brackins on the team.

Under center for Philadelphia is Dan Radabaugh who has thrown for 13,817 yards, 296 touchdowns and 50 interceptions during his three years with the Soul.

Returning to quarterback position for his second season for the Predators, Jones High School graduate Bernard Morris who completed 157 of 242 passes for 2191 yards, 47 touchdowns and six interceptions in his ten starts.

The team signed Tampa Bay Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard in the offseason to breed competition among the offensive effort. HIppeard completed 350 of 596 passes for 4,406 yards and 93 touchdowns with 22 interceptions.

Also returning to the roster is most of the receiving core with the resigning of Greg Carr, Larry Brackins, Kendal Thompkins who led the team with 69 receiving touchdowns between the three.

There were some major changes in the secondary however with their top defensive back Anthony Shutt, who led the team with 74 tackles in 2014, being out with an injury.

Jack linebacker Tanner Varner went to the Las Vegas Outlaws in the Expansion draft while defensive back Tracy Belton was traded to the New Orleans Voodoo for a future consideration. This will leave kick returner Arness Ikener, as well as defensive back Erick Mcintosh in charge containing the receivers.

Six year veteran of the AFL Aaron Robins was also signed during the offseason to fill the Jack linebacker spot. Robbins is a two-time ArenaBowl champion and has 26.5 sacks in his career.

With the solidity of the receiving core and the depth of the quarterback spot, the team is secured on offense but with an almost entirely new defense, the team has a tough game ahead of them.

Kickoff at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando is at 7 p.m. and will be aired live on ESPN2.