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Orlando Predators game notes

February 8, 2005 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Orlando Predators News Release

Orlando Predators (2-0) vs. Tampa Bay Storm (2-0)
Date: Friday, Feb. 11
Toe-to-Leather Time: 7:30 p.m.
Site: Hummer Field-TD Waterhouse Centre (13,692)
Officials: Referee: David Lambros; Umpire: Al Granado; Head Linesman: Mike McCabe; Line Judge: Brian Mathew; Back Judge: David Cutaia
Radio: WQTM 740 The Team (Marc Daniels and Dan Pearson)
TV: Sun Sports (Rick Peckham and James Bates)
Streaks: Both Teams are on two-game winning streaks
Series Record: Orlando Trails all-time Series 17-18
Coaches: Orlando: Jay Gruden (6th season, 55-30, .647); Tampa Bay: Tim Marcum (17th season, 169-63, .728)

In terms of excitement, adrenalin, fan interaction, intensity and plain old fun, the Tampa Bay – Orlando rivalry can stand on its own as one of the all-time great match-ups in Arena Football League history. But the 2005 games between the two long-time rivals will mean even more, thanks to the new playoff format adopted by the AFL.

“It’s hard to believe, but yes…these games are even more important than usual” Predators Head Coach Jay Gruden said. “Only four teams are going to make the playoffs from the National Conference and two of those spots are going to be reserved for division winners. Every game you play in your division and in your conference is going to be critically important and that starts right now. There are six or seven very good teams in our conference, which means at least two of them are not going to the playoffs. Even though it is early in the season, this game is extremely important to us.”

The added pressure of the playoff format just adds to what is arguably the AFL’s best rivalry. These teams have met more times (35) than any other two teams in Arena Football League history, including two times in the league championship game. The two teams have won more games and played in more ArenaBowl championship games than any other teams in league history.

Orlando Predators (2-0-0) *All Times Eastern
Date Opponent W/L Score
Jan. 30 Colorado W 39-36
Feb. 3 At Arizona W 51-40
Feb. 11 Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 17 At Dallas 8:30 p.m.
Feb. 25 At Chicago 8:30 p.m.
Mar. 6 San Jose 12 Noon
Mar. 13 At New Orleans 3 p.m.
Mar. 19 At Georgia 1 p.m.
Mar. 25 Austin 7:30 p.m.
Apr. 3 Los Angeles 12 Noon
Apr. 9 At Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Apr. 15 New York 7:30 p.m.
Apr. 22 Georgia 7:30 p.m.
May 1 At Philadelphia 1 p.m.
May 7 At Austin 8:30 p.m.
May 20 New Orleans 7:30 p.m.

Tampa Bay (2-0-0)
Date Opponent Result Score
Jan. 30 San Jose W 63-33
Feb. 6 Austin W 62-45
Feb. 11 At Orlando 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 25 At New Orleans 8 p.m.
Mar. 6 Grand Rapids 1 p.m.
Mar. 13 Arizona 1 p.m.
Mar. 20 At Philadelphia 12 Noon
Mar. 26 At Los Angeles 10:30 p.m.
Apr. 2 Georgia 7:30 p.m.
Apr. 9 Orlando 7:30 p.m.
Apr. 17 At Austin 1 p.m.
Apr. 24 At Nashville 1 p.m.
Apr. 30 New Orleans 7:30 p.m.
May 8 At Georgia 1 p.m.
May 15 New York 3 p.m.
May 22 At Columbus 3 p.m.

”I think our confidence comes from the fact that we are a veteran team that has played together for a while. We believe that when we play together as a team, it will be difficult for people to beat us.”

FB/LB Idris Price

JAY GRUDEN is in his second stint and begins his 6th year overall as Head Coach and Director of Football Operations for the Orlando Predators. After a Hall of Fame career as a quarterback for the Tampa Bay Storm, Gruden began his coaching career in 1997 by serving as offensive assistant for the Nashville Kats. One season later, the Predators made him the youngest head coach in the AFL. Gruden would go on to lead the Predators to three consecutive appearances in the ArenaBowl and a pair of championships. After guiding the Predators to a fourth consecutive trip to the playoffs in 2001, Gruden announced his intentions to resign in order to return to the playing field after a five-year layoff. In two seasons as Predators quarterback, Gruden directed Orlando to back-to-back appearances in the semifinals, falling one game short of his goal of returning to the ArenaBowl as a player. In 2003, he recorded a 10-0 mark with 49 touchdown passes and two interceptions as a starting quarterback. Off-season surgery, combined with the tragic loss of former Head Coach Fran Papasedero in a June 19, 2003 traffic accident, resulted in Gruden returning to the sideline. Gruden will take a 55-30 (.647) all-time coaching record into the Tampa Bay game. He is 47-27 in regular season games (.635) and a solid 8-3 as a head coach in playoff games (.727).

Coaches, Years Record Pct.
Jay Gruden, 1998-2001, 2004-05 55-30 .647
Fran Papasedero, 2002-03 22-13 .629
Perry Moss, 1991-97 67-31 .684

Without question, Tim Marcum is the top Head Coach in the history of the Arena Football League. Marcum, now in his 17th season as an AFL head coach, ranks number one if regular season wins, post-season wins, regular season winning percentage, overall winning percentage, most Arena Bowls coached and most ArenaBowl victories.

One of the true pioneers of the Arena Football League, Marcum is the only coach in AFL history to win championships with three different teams (Denver 1987), Detroit (1988-89-92) and Tampa Bay (1995-96, 2003). He has posted 10 or more wins in 10 of 16 seasons. Through the 2004 season, Marcum has posted an impressive 25-9 record in post-season games.

A two-time winner of the Arena Football League Coach of the Year award, Marcum is also member of the Arena Football League Hall of Fame.

GAME FEATURES TWO IN TOP 10: This week’s game features two of the top 10 coaches in all-time wins. Tampa’s Tim Marcum sits atop the list 169 victories; while Jay Gruden is ninth with 55.

1. Tim Marcum 169*
2. Danny White 141
3. Perry Moss 86
4. Mike Hohenssee 86*
5. Mike Trigg 79*
6 Mike Dailey 76*
7 John Gregory 73
8. Darren Arbet 74*
9. Jay Gruden 55*
10. Todd Shell 48*

*Active Coach

With a 63-58 win over Orlando on May 2, 2004, Tampa Bay took a 18-17 series lead over the Predators. As mentioned earlier, no other teams in the Arena Football League have a longer, continuously running series than the Predators and Tampa Bay. This week’s game marks the 36th meeting between the two teams, dating back to the 1991 season. The teams have played in the same division since Orlando joined the league in 1991. The series has featured two regular season games each year and the Predators have met the Storm seven times in the post-season. In addition, the Predators have played the Storm in five pre-season games (results not included in series records). In a testament to how evenly matched these two teams are, it should be noted that the Storm hold a 15-13 edge in regular season games, with the Predators holding a 4-3 edge in post-season games. Orlando has won three of the last four post-season contests between the Storm and Predators, sending their archrivals packing for three consecutive years from 1998-2001. Tampa Bay returned the favor by pounding out a 60-50 win in the semifinals during the 2003 season. The all-time series scores between the Predators and Storm follow:

June 1, 1991 (A) 51 38 10,354
July 27, 1991 (H) 16 26 13,680
May 29, 1992 (H) 32 39 11,312
July 2, 1992 (A) 48 33 20,091
August 15, 1992 (H) 24 21* 13,680
May 21, 1993 (H) 46 34 13,720
June 19, 1993 (A) 46 45 28,746**
August 14, 1993 (H) 52 55* 13,720
July 1, 1994 (H) 61 40 14,015
August 13, 1994 (A) 39 40 20,819
July 14, 1995 (H) 34 51 15,638
July 29, 1995 (A) 20 44 24,055
August 14, 1995 (A) 35 48& 20,087
May 18, 1996 (A) 42 63 25,087
July 19, 1996 (H) 40 39 16,444
May 17, 1997 (A) 43 17 16,236
June 27, 1997 (H) 54 30 14,179
June 12, 1998 (H) 34 42 16,529
June 27, 1998 (A) 30 56 15,948
August 23, 1998 (A) 62 31$ 14,125
June 12, 1999 (H) 37 63 15,101
July 11, 1999 (A) 28 47 11,777
Aug. 7, 1999 (A) 41 19% 10,706
May 12, 2000 (H) 44 43 13,342
July 1, 2000 (A) 36 50 14,047
August 8, 2000 (H) 34 24% 13,122
June 10, 2001 (H) 57 45 13,691
July 1, 2001 (A) 46 38 17,634
June 9, 2002 (H) 45 48 12,855
July 7, 2002 (A) 55 48 11,784
Feb. 10, 2003 (H) 54 51 13,521
March 16, 2003 (A) 32 52 15,054
June 7, 2003 (A) 50 60* 14,028
Feb. 8, 2004 (A) 41 52 15,404
May 2, 2004 (H) 58 63 13,714
Series Totals 1467 1495 544,265

*AFL Semifinals &ArenaBowl IX
$ArenaBowl XII %AFL Quarterfinals
**All-Time AFL Attendance Record

When post season games are factored in, the
Tampa Bay leads the all-time series 18-17…
only 38 points of the more than 2900 that has
been scored in this series, separates the two teams
as Orlando has scored 1,467 points in the series,
while Tampa Bay has scored 1,495 …Orlando is
averaging 41.91 points per game in the series, while
Tampa Bay is averaging 42.71…the visiting team
won the first four games of the series and
16 of 35 games overall… Orlando is 9-8 at home
and 8-10 on the road in the series…the longest
winning streak in the series is five games (Tampa
Bay, Aug 13, 1994 through May 18, 1996)…Orlando
Is 5-5 in the last 10 games, but the
Storm have captured the last four meetings…
Orlando has won four in a row on two occasions…
the largest regular season crowd (28,746)
and largest ArenaBowl crowd (25,087) came during
this series (both games played in Thunderdome…
now Tropicana Field)… the series has been
witnessed by more than 500,000 fans (15,550
average)…the teams have met seven times in the
playoffs, with Orlando holding a 4-3 series
edge… both teams have won an ArenaBowl
championship game at the other’s expense.

THE JAY FACTOR: No discussion of the Orlando / Tampa Bay series would be complete without re-hashing the “Jay Factor.” For those new to Arena Football, Gruden was Tampa Bay’s “Golden Boy” quarterback of the early ‘90’s, leading the team to four AFL championships in six years – winning the last two under Tim Marcum. Gruden left the game as a player in 1997 to assume the offensive coordinator’s job with the expansion Nashville Kats. After helping that team to an AFL expansion-record 10 wins that season, Gruden came on the radar screen of the Predators Search Committee that was attempting to find a new Head Coach. The Predators shocked Storm fans a few months later by announcing that at age 30, Gruden would become the new Head Coach of the Orlando Predators. In his first season, the Storm thumped the Predators twice by an average of 17 points. Those games led up to the third contest between the two in ArenaBowl XII. By racing to a 14-2 record, Tampa entered the game as prohibitive 15-point favorites over the Predators; while Orlando needed a miracle comeback in the desert against Arizona to keep its championship hopes alive. After a close first half, everything that could possibly go wrong for a team went wrong for Tampa Bay in the first six minutes of the third quarter as the Predators would claim their first AFL championship, 62-31, on the home floor of its arch-rivals with their former hero leading the Predators charge. The following season would once again have a surreal ending for the Storm. After another outstanding season, Tampa Bay entered the playoffs as the league’s number one seed (11-3) and would host Gruden and his #8 seeded Orlando team (7-7). After jumping out to a 10-0 lead at halftime, it looked like Tampa Bay would get its much sought-after revenge, only to see the Predators outscore them 41-7 in the second half and become the first and only last-seeded AFL team to take-out a top-seeded team in the playoffs. To add insult to injury, Gruden knocked his former team out of the playoffs for a third consecutive season in 2000, as the #2 seeded Predators took a 34-24 win in the TD Waterhouse Centre. In his final season as Head Coach, Gruden again put a hurting on the Storm, sweeping the regular season series. Coming back in 2002 as a player, Gruden lost a close three-point game at home, but guided the Preds to a 55-48 win on the road in 2002. Gruden added a second victory against his former team as a player, with a 54-51 win over the Storm back on Feb. 10 of this year, but did not participate in the rematch – suffering an ankle injury in Week four and missing six games. Tampa Bay defeated Gruden and the Preds in a semifinal game that year. Since joining the Predators, Gruden has guided Orlando to an 8-9 record against his former team, including a 3-0 mark in the playoffs. Adding more juice to the Gruden/Tampa Bay situation was the fact that the Storm “retired” Jay Gruden’s jersey in a ceremony a few years ago and then unceremoniously “un-retired” his jersey in 2002 and re-issued it to a player right before an Orlando-Tampa Bay game. Tampa would later re-retire the number after Gruden left the game as a player in 2003.

LAST MEETING: Tampa Bay 63, Orlando 58
May 2, 2004 TD Waterhouse Centre

Tampa Bay: 17 14 20 12 -- 63
Orlando: 14 14 0 30 -– 58

ORLANDO, FL -- The Orlando Predators staged a valiant come-from-behind effort, but fell short as the Tampa Bay Storm won a 63-58 decision in front of a sellout crowd of 13,714 at the TD Waterhouse Centre.

Tampa Bay took a 51-28 lead into the fourth quarter—only to see the Predators mount a 23-0 run to tie the score at 51-51 with just under six minutes remaining. After a Tampa score and missed extra point gave the Predators possession down by six with less than a minute to go, the Storm defense won it for Tampa Bay by holding the Predators to a four-and-out.

Travis McGriff had a huge night for Orlando, gaining 313 all-purpose yards and scoring four touchdowns. Cory Fleming added 131 yards on 12 catches as Orlando saw its season record fall to 6-6.

First Downs 21 19
Rush Yards 12-19 3-(-3)
Passing Yards 243 312
A-C-I 30-18-2 43-25-1
Fumbles/Lost 2-1 3-2
Penalties/Yards 4-24 9-56
Sacks By 1-6 0-0

TB: White 4-11, Stafford 2-4, Muhammad 5-3, Tolliver 1-1
O: Grant 1-0; Hamilton 3-(-3)

TB: Stafford 30-18-2-243
O: Hamilton 43-25-1-318

TB: Tolliver 6-37, Dell 4-59, Samuels 3-74, Saunders 3-42, Solomon 3-31
O: Fleming 12-131; McGriff 10-163, Cooper 1-12, Shell 1-7, Grant 1-5

As the chart below indicates, the Storm and Predators have been two of the most successful teams in Arena Football League history. Both teams rank in the top five in regular season victories, regular season winning percentage, most post-season victories, post-season winning percentage and most ArenaBowl appearances.

Most Regular Season Wins
Tampa Bay 133
Orlando 125
Arizona 122
San Jose 93
Albany 92

Best Regular Season Winning Pct.*
Detroit Drive .821
Tampa Bay .706
Arizona .689
Iowa .670
Orlando .667
Albany .612
*Five seasons minimum

Most Post-Season Wins
Tampa Bay 20
Arizona 20
Orlando 19
Detroit 12
San Jose 9

Post Season Winning Pct.
Detroit .857
Tampa Bay .690
Arizona .667
Orlando .663
San Jose .600

Most ArenaBowl Appearances
Tampa Bay 6
Orlando 6
Detroit 6
Arizona 5

Not only are Tampa Bay and Orlando closely connected by just 70 miles of interstate, but the teams share a lot of personnel bonds as indicated by the following: Predators Head Coach JAY GRUDEN was Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback from 1991-96, guiding that team to four championships…Tampa Bay WR/LB CLIF DELL was an outstanding player for the Orlando Predators from 1999-2002 and played a key role in the Preds’ 2000 AFL championship season…Storm QB (on injured reserve) and offensive QB PAT O’HARA played for the Predators from 1995-2000, directing Orlando to its first title as a starting quarterback in 1998…Predators WR/DB BRET COOPER began his AFL career with Tampa Bay in 1994…Tampa Bay WR/DB ERNEST ROSS (currently on IR) was on the Predators 2004 roster and went to camp with Orlando in 2005…Predators OL/DL DOUG MILLER is a Tampa native…Predators QB JOE HAMILTON, OL/DL BUCK GURLEY, and WR/LB JUSTIN SKAGGS all spent time with the Tampa Bay Bucs (NFL).

MEMORABLE MOMENTS IN PREDS/STORM SERIES: No set of game notes on the Orlando –Tampa Bay game would be complete without a recap of the biggest and most-important games in this series.

Orlando 51, Tampa Bay 38 (June 1, 1991)
In the first game in franchise history for both teams, Reggie Collier threw for seven touchdowns, three each to Reggie Smith and Herkie Walls, as the Predators prevailed 51-38. Tampa Bay would get the last laugh, however, beating Orlando in the rematch; post an 8-2 season and win the ArenaBowl under first-year quarterback Jay Gruden.

Orlando 24, Tampa Bay 21 (August 15, 1992)
After splitting a pair of games in the regular season, the Preds and Storm hooked up in the AFL semifinals. After playing to a 21-21 draw through four quarters, Jorge Cimadevilla won it for Orlando with a 17-yard field goal in overtime.

Orlando 46, Tampa Bay 45 (June 19, 1993)
The rivalry was at an all-time high when an AFL record 28,746 fans jammed the Thunderdome to watch two of the league’s best teams square off. Jay Gruden’s two-point conversion attempt fell incomplete with 2:29 remaining as the Predators held on for a 46-45 win and a regular season series sweep.

Tampa Bay 55, Orlando 52 (August 14, 1993)
The league’s two best teams met in the semifinals for the second consecutive year. This time, the Predators trailed for most of the game but tied the score at 38-38 on a 4th quarter Billy Owens’ touchdown. Momentum appeared on the Predators side when they held Tampa Bay to a field goal on the next possession, but Arden Czyzewski’s ensuing kickoff bounced off the net frame and was recovered by Jeff Mayes for a touchdown and 10-point Storm lead.

Tampa Bay 40, Orlando 39 (August 13, 1994)
This one was an especially bitter pill for the Predators to swallow. After running off 11 consecutive wins, the Orlando Predators missed an opportunity to become just the seventh team in modern day professional football to record a perfect regular season when Mike Lazecki booted an 18-yard field goal with 31 seconds remaining to give the Storm a 40-39 upset win. Orlando still had a chance to win, until quarterback Duke Tobin’s fifth interception fell in the hands of Storm defensive back Eddie Brown in the Tampa Bay end zone with 10 seconds remaining.

Tampa Bay 48, Orlando 35 (Sept. 1, 1995)
Although Orlando completed the regular season at a shaky 7-5 and barely qualified for the playoffs, the Preds fought their way through the playoffs with a pair of road upsets to meet the Storm in the ArenaBowl for the first time. But two much Jay Gruden resulted in a relatively easy 13-point win for the Storm.

Orlando 40, Tampa Bay 39, July 19, 1995
In one of the hardest hitting, nastiest and controversial finishes in series history, back-up quarterback Brad Lebo completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Alex Shell at the buzzer to pull the Predators back to within one point at 39-38. Electing to go for the win, Barry Wagner’s two-point conversion pass to Jeff Parker was ruled incomplete, but Tampa was called for an illegal defense. Following an unsportsman-like penalty on Tampa Head Coach Tim Marcum, the Predators lined up from inside the one and ran a sweep to Michael McClendon, who tripped at the one and then bounced into an end zone for the two-point conversion. Tampa would claim that McClendon was down “by contact” and would later protest the game claiming clock irregularities, but Orlando held on for the win.

Orlando 54, Tampa Bay 30, June 27, 1997
In a game labeled as “Pizza Gate,” new Predators owner Will Meris backed Barry Wagner’s win guarantee by promising a free large Papa John’s Pizza to each fan in attendance if Orlando failed to win. Staring a bill of $82,348.75 in the face (Papa John’s quoted the Predators a price of $5.50 + tax per pie in the non-sponsored promotion), Meris was relieved when Mac Cody scored four touchdowns and Orlando crushed the Storm by 24.

Orlando 62, Tampa Bay 31, August 23, 1998
After being crushed by the Storm twice in the regular season, the Predators pulled off the biggest and most-unlikely upset in ArenaBowl history with a 62-31 win over 14-2 Tampa Bay. Rookie head coach Jay Gruden watched on as his Predators used six interceptions (three by Chris Barber) and a record rushing performance by Rick Hamilton (82 yards, 3 touchdowns) to defeat their archrivals and claim their first ArenaBowl championship. Leading 24-17 at the half, the Predators scored 36 second half points without completing a pass!

Orlando 41, Tampa Bay 19 (August 7, 1999)
Orlando became the first #8 seed in AFL history to knock off a #1 seed, as the 7-7 Predators shocked the 11-3 Storm, 41-19 in the playoffs. Orlando trailed 10-0 at the half, but dominated every aspect of the second half. Orlando would go on to become the first #8 seed to ever make it to the ArenaBowl, after upsetting #2 seeded Iowa the following week, 48-41.

Orlando 34, Tampa Bay 24 (August 8, 2000)
For an unprecedented third consecutive year, the Predators and Gruden would send Tampa Bay packing in the playoffs. This time, it was more difficult, as Orlando led by just three (20-17) in the third quarter, but Joe Douglass scored on a 33-yard pass from Connell Maynor and Maynor then ran over from the 9-yard line as the Preds took a 34-17 lead late in the 4th quarter.

Tampa Bay 60, Orlando 50 (June 7, 2003)
John Kaleo out-dueled Jay Gruden as the Tampa Bay Storm knocked off the Orlando Predators, 60-50, in the semifinals of the Arena Football League playoffs. Orlando had a 28-20 lead in the second quarter, when several bad breaks led to Tampa Bay taking a 33-31 lead at the half. A questionable call on a deflected pass that was ruled a lateral, combined with an apparent touchdown pass from Jay Gruden to Travis McGriff that was ruled an incomplete pass, resulted in a nine-point swing and a huge shift in momentum.

Tampa Bay 63, Orlando 58 (May 2, 2004)
The Orlando Predators staged a valiant come-from-behind effort, but fell short as the Tampa Bay Storm won a 63-58 decision in front of a sellout crowd of 13,714 at the TD Waterhouse Centre. Tampa Bay took a 51-28 lead into the fourth quarter—only to see the Predators mount a 23-0 run to tie the score at 51-51 with just under six minutes remaining. After a Tampa score and missed extra point gave the Predators possession down by six with less than a minute to go, the Storm defense won it for Tampa Bay by holding the Predators to a four-and-out. Travis McGriff had a huge night for Orlando, gaining 313 all-purpose yards and scoring four touchdowns. Cory Fleming added 131 yards on 12 catches as Orlando saw its season record fall to 6-6.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES: Orlando and Tampa Bay:

Orlando Tampa Bay
Joined AFL 1991 1991$
All-Time Record 144-74 153-64
Winning Percentage .661 .705
Regular Season Record 125-62 133-55
Winning Pct. .668 .707
Post Season Record 19-11 20-9
Winning Pct. .633 .670
Post Season Appearances 13 14*
Consecutive Appearances 13 14*
Cons. Winning Seasons 13* 11 (1991-02)
Post Season Games 30* 29
Post Season Wins 19 20*
Semifinal Appearances 9* 9*
ArenaBowl Appearances 6* 6*
AFL Titles 2 5*

Notes: $: Tampa Bay entered league as relocation franchise (formerly the Pittsburgh Gladiators); *Indicates AFL Record

If the Orlando Predators defeat the Tampa Bay Storm on Friday, it would

· Give the Predators a 3-0 start for the sixth time in franchise history
· Even the all-time series with Tampa Bay at 18-18
· Give Jay Gruden an all-time head coaching record of 56-30
· Give the Predators a record of 13-2 in Week 3 games.
· Give the Predators a record of 79-32 all-time record in home games.
· Give the Predators an all-time record of 145-74-0.
· Break a four-game losing streak to the Storm.

How The 2005 Predators Were Built
Veteran Retained From 2004 Season (17): Bret Cooper, Damon Mason, Travis McGriff, Idris Price, Michael Brown, Cory Fleming, Joe Hamilton, Kenny McEntyre, Rupert Grant, Justin Cleveland, Greg Krause, Cecil Caldwell, Buck Gurley, EJ Burt, Doug Miller, Reggie Lee, Marlon Moye-Moore*
*injured reserve list

Veteran Free Agents Signed (2): Reggie Doster, Chris Sanders.

Rookie Free Agents (4): Jimmy Fryzel, David Upchurch, Jerrian James and Justin Skaggs.

Obtained by Trade: None


LAST WEEK’S GAME: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY: Reviewing last week’s win over the Arizona Rattlers. THE GOOD: Playing on a short week, the Predators jumped out of the box quickly and kept control of the game for the most part, recording a 51-40 win…for the second time in as many games, the Predators defense held an opponent to 40 points for less…Orlando’s defense forced three turnovers, including a pair of interceptions.
THE BAD: Orlando had what appeared to be a safe 32-7 lead in the second quarter but for a second consecutive week made several errors to allow an opponent to sneak back into the game. THE UGLY: Veteran Kicker Steve McLaughlin struggled for a second consecutive week – missing four extra points and two field goals – resulting in his release on Monday.

Counting last week's win at Arizona, the Predators have been on something of a hot streak in regular season games. The team has now won nine of their last 10 regular season games dating back to an April 9, 2004 win over New Orleans (57-24). The 9-1 regular season record since that time has been the best in the Arena Football League.

Since joining the Orlando Predators in 2003, both Cory Fleming and Travis McGriff have posted outstanding numbers against the five-time Arena champions. Counting playoffs, Fleming has faced the Storm five times in a Predators uniform, catching 42 balls for 533 yards and 13 touchdowns. McGriff has faced the Storm four times, catching 35 balls for 550 yards and eight touchdowns. McGriff posted a career-high 313 all-purpose yards against the Storm on May 2, the second highest total in Orlando Predators history. Since joining the Predators, both players are averaging more than 100-yards per game receiving against the Storm.

McGriff / Fleming vs. Storm
Name G Rec. Yards Avg. TD YPG
McGriff 4 35 550 15.7 8 137.5
Fleming 5 42 533 12.7 13 106.1
Totals 9 77 1088 14.1 21 122.8

Kenny “The Glove” McEntyre has been one of the toughest competitors to ever wear a Predators uniform. Despite numerous injuries in his career, McEntyre has yet to miss a start since coming to the Predators in the tail end of the 1998 season. Heading into this week’s game with Tampa Bay, McEntyre has now answered the bell for 107 consecutive games -- building on his own team record.

With six receptions for 92 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona last week, Predators WR/LB Cory Fleming has now caught at least one touchdown pass in 28 consecutive games. Including playoff games, Fleming has at least one touchdown catch in 36 of 38 career games with the Preds.

As expected, the Orlando Predators cut ties with kicker Steve McLaughlin, waiving the seven-year AFL veteran on Monday. McLaughlin was signed just prior to the start of the 2005 season to replace All-Arena kicker Jay Taylor.

One of the all-time kicking leaders in Arena Football League history, McLaughlin struggled in his two games with the Predators, missing seven of 13 extra points and all four field goal attempts.

“Steve was a 90% career kicker on extra points in his career but for some reason couldn’t get it together for us,” Predators Head Coach Jay Gruden said. “The effort was there, but not the results. Steve is a professional and understood that we had to make a change.”

Gruden said that the Predators should have an announcement on a new kicker on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. “We’re talking to another veteran kicker now,” Gruden added. “We should have an know something in another day or so.”

On Monday, the Predators added some much needed depth on the line. David Upchurch, a promising 6-3, 302-lb. defensive lineman from West Virginia University, was activated from the Predators’ NFL-Exempt list.

Upchurch spent the 2003 season on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad and went to camp with the Steelers in 2004. After being released, he signed with the Predators but was then signed by the San Diego Chargers. He was released over the weekend.

A former team captain at WVU, Upchurch was a three-year starter for the Mountaineers. He ranks third on the school’s career list with 35 tackles-for-loss.

When Orlando takes a lead into the locker room at halftime, the Predators usually hold it. Counting last week’s win over the Arizona, the Predators hold an all-time record of 104 wins against just 22 losses when they lead at halftime (82.5% winning percentage).

Friday’s game will mark the 14th time Orlando Predators Head Coach Jay Gruden has faced Tampa Bay’s Tim Marcum. Marcum holds a 7-6 lead over Gruden in head-to-head match-ups, including a 7-3 lead in regular season games. Gruden leads Marcum, 3-0, in playoff games.

Gruden vs. Marcum Head-To-Head
Year Game 1 Game 2 Playoffs
2004 L, 41-52 L, 58-63
2001 W, 57-45 W, 46-38
2000 W, 44-33 L, 36-50 W, 34-24
1999 L, 37-63 L, 28-47 W, 41-19
1998 L, 30-56 L, 34-42 W, 62-31

Kenny “The Glove” McEntyre added to his Arena Football League career interception record last week against Arizona with his 55th career pick. Counting playoffs, the three-time AFL Defensive Player of the Year now has 66 career interceptions in just 106 games. Counting playoffs, eight of McEntyre's 66 career picks have come against the Tampa Bay Storm.

Maybe it would be going too far to call the Orlando Predators “The AFL Cradle of Coaches,” but at least 16 current and former Predators players have gone on to the coaching ranks, including: Doug Miller (High School), Chris Barber (High School), Ben Bennett (af2), Webbie Burnett (af2), Victor Floyd (High School), Rick Hamilton (AFL), Jay Gruden (AFL, NFL), Kevin Guy (AFL, af2), Bret Munsey (af2, AFL), Jerry Odom (High School, Colleges), Pat O’Hara (High School), Connell Maynor (College), Jeff Parker (College), Fred Ray (High School), Barry Wagner (College), and Herkie Walls (High School). Miller, Wagner, and Ray remain active in the Arena Football League as players – coaching football in the off-season.

EJ BURT CLOSES IN ON McGOWAN’S ALL-TIME SACK RECORD: With a quarterback sack against Arizona last week, third-year OL/DL EJ Burt tied Paul McGowan’s club record of 18.0 career quarterback sacks. McGowan played five seasons with the Predators (1993-97); while Burt is just starting his third season. With his sack against the Rattlers, Burt needs just ½ sack to move past McGowan and become the Predators all-time career leader. The all-time Predators sack list updated through Sunday:

Names Seasons Total
1. Paul McGowan 5 18.0
EJ BURT 3 18.0
3. Ernest Allen 4 16.5
4. Victor Hall 4 14.0
5. Eric Drakes 8 13.0

Several Players continue to approach milestones for the Orlando Predators

*With 69 yards receiving against Arizona, Travis needs 102 receiving yards to reach 2000 for career
*With 103 all-purpose yards, he now needs 449 all-purpose yards to reach 4,000 for career

*With one sack against Arziona, EJ Burt Needs 1/2 QB Sacksto break team career record of 18.0 (held by Paul McGowan)

*With 7 total tackles against the Rattlers, Damon Mason now has 513 on his career. He needs 87 tackles to reach 600 for AFL Career.

*Damon needs 3 Interceptions to reach 30 for his career

*With 1.5 tackles against Colorado, McEntyre needs 95.5 total tackles to reach 500 for his career

*With an interception against Arizona, Kenny needs 5 Interceptions to reach 60 for his career

*With six receptions against Arizona, Fleming now has 715 for his career and needs 85 receptions to reach 800 for his career.

*With 92 yards vs. Arizona, Fleming now needs 300 receiving yards to reach 9,000 for his career and 1,300 receiving yards to reach 10,000 for his career

*With three receiving touchdowns vs. Arizona, Fleming now has 200 career receiving touchdowns.

*With 260 passing yards, Joe Hamilton now has 3,467 career passing yards and now needs 533 passing yards to hit 4,000 for his career

*With five touchdown passes against Rattlers, Hamilton now needs 38 touchdown passes to reach 100 for his career

PENALTIES DOWN: One of the most penalized teams in the Arena Football League over the last eight seasons (8.3 penalties and 52 yards per game), the Predators have played relatively mistake free during the first two games of the 2004 season. Orlando has averaged six penalties and 29 penalty yards per game in 2005 -- a reduction to two penalties and 23 yards per game from 2004 averages. What was most encouraging to Head Coach Jay Gruden was the fact that only four of Orlando’s 12 penalties this season have come on the defensive side of the ball. “We stressed staying on-sides and watching the ball during training camp and early signs are encouraging. Last year, we jumped off sides way too much,” Gruden said.

The Orlando Predators announced that Hummer of Orlando is the team’s first title sponsor in the franchise's 15-year history.

The three-year comprehensive partnership, which runs through the 2007 season, gives Hummer of Orlando name recognition in practically every aspect of the Orlando Predators operations. As the presenting sponsor, Hummer of Orlando will receive exposure on approximately 80 billboards throughout the 2005 season. Hummer will also be prominently featured on 100,000 schedule cards, all Predators newspaper advertising, website and all printed materials.

Subject to final approval from the Arena Football League, Hummer of Orlando receives naming rights to the Predators playing field. The team will now list its home field as Hummer Field at the TD Waterhouse Centre. Advertising elements of the agreement include sideline dasherboard, turf logo, television and radio spots on Predators broadcasts, program advertising, player and cheerleading appearances, on-field and outside the arena promotions, and VIP and promotional season tickets.

“Without question, this is the largest and most important corporate partnership in club history,” Orlando Predators President and Managing General Partner Brett Bouchy said. “Hummer of Orlando was one of our larger sponsors last year and they have taken their commitment to Arena Football and the Orlando Predators to a whole new level. Our goal is to justify the faith they put in our product by showing the same faith and commitment to promote their products.”

"This promises to be a banner year for both the Orlando Predators and Hummer of Orlando, and we're excited to move forward as a team," Hummer of Orlando General Manager Gavin Hutchinson said. "It makes sense for the toughest vehicle on the road to partner with the toughest team in Arena Football. Hummer of Orlando is proud to be a part of the Predators' winning tradition."

Hummer of Orlando is scheduled to open a new dealership on 434 in Altamonte Springs in late April. Hummer of Orlando is owned by the Holler Automotive Group, which recently purchased a minority ownership stake in the Orlando Predators.


The AFL’s all-time leader in interceptions will have his work cut out for him as he faces QB Shane Stafford’s high-flying offense that has averaged more than 62 points per game in the team’s first two games.

McGriff has been nothing short of spectacular in four career games against the Storm. He has averaged 137 yards receiving and scored eight touchdowns against the Storm. His last outing resulted in 303 all-purpose yards, the second highest total in Orlando Predators history.

The second year Orlando Predators quarterback has been solid in his first two games, recording wins against playoff-caliber competition. He has completed 65% of his passes with nine touchdown throws and two more running. Yet some mental lapses (three interceptions, a fumble) have resulted in points for the other team, something Hamilton can ill-afford against arch-rival Tampa Bay.

After each Arena Football League game, media in attendance select the “US Army Ironman of the Game” as well as the “ADT Defensive Player of the Game” and the “Offensive Player of the Game.” For a second straight week, the Predators dominated the awards, with Cory Fleming, Joe Hamilton and Damon Mason winning awards.

Week Opp. Player
1 Colorado Ironman: Cory Fleming (O)Offensive: Joe Hamilton (O)Defensive: Damon Mason (O)
2 Arizona Ironman: Cory Fleming (O)Offense: Joe Hamitlon (O)Defensive: Damon Mason (O)

Date Action Player

1/23 Waived WR-LB Leroy McFadden, OS Kerry Watkins, QB Ryan Schneider, WR-LB Andre Cooper, DS Jamie Hatley, WR-DB Ernest Ross, FB-LB Chris Morrant, OL-DL Patrick Scott, OL-DL Joe Fantigrassi, OL/DL Deon White, OL/DL Thomas Pittman
1/23 Placed on IR FB/LB Marlon Moye-Moore
1/24 Waived OL/DL Shawn King, FB/LB Kevin Jefferson, OS Anthony Bright.
1/28 Placed on IR OS Jimmy Fryzel
2/7 Waived K Steve McLaughlin
2/7 Activated from NFL-Exempts OL-DL David Upchurch

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Arena Football League (1987-2008) Stories from February 8, 2005

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