Rivalries are meant to last forever, or at least a very long time. That is why the Orlando Predators have returned to the arena football business. Them and the Jacksonville Sharks look to hook back up this weekend and continue their great rivalry. Things were started in the Arena Football League (AFL) and are continuing in the National Arena League (NAL).
Rebuilding a Rivalry: Jacksonville Sharks and Orlando Predators
The Sharks enter this week with a 3-1 record and are tied with the Carolina Cobras and New York Streets for first place. The Predators are in fifth place with a 1-4 record, but had a very close, but good game against the Streets last week, falling short 53-54 with just seconds on the clock.
Brandon Russell and Connor Ferguson collaborated to remember a pair of Jacksonville-Orlando matchups from their lifetimes to remember what was once and what could be again a great rivalry.
One of the most memorable games between these two is, quite ironically, the final meeting between the two. The Sharks made the quick trip to Orlando to take on the Predators in the first playoff game of the year. The Sharks came into this week as underdogs with a 7-9 record and an interim head coach while the Predators were looking strong at 12 wins and only four losses.
In the course of the game, the Sharks never saw the lead until 10:53 to go in the third quarter. From there, it was a back and forth scoring battle. In the fourth quarter, the Sharks were up 61-55 with just seconds to go in regulation. The Predators pulled a quick one and scored right as time ran out. Before the PAT, everything was all tied up at 61. Orlando felt good about their odds, sending out a victory tweet on Twitter. They missed the PAT, which sent this dramatic game into overtime.
Orlando received the ball to start OT and scored in less than five minutes. In arena football, both teams get the chance to score. This gave Jacksonville the chance to score and keep their playoff hopes alive. In a time of three minutes and 18 seconds, the Sharks scored a touchdown on a goal-line run from Fullback Derrick Ross. Interim Head Coach Bob Landsee had a difficult decision to make: Point After Touchdown or 2-Point Conversion Attempt? The city of Jacksonville is known as “The Bold City”, so Landsee decided to go for two. A very gutsy call was made to run the ball, even though Orlando knew what was going to happen. Ross got the ball and gave it his all, bulldozing right through the offensive and defensive lines to convert on the 2-point attempt.
I remember coming home from a hockey game when I was a young kid to turn on the TV and see an Arena Football League game. I was about 12 years old so the memory of it is a bit blurry, but I remember watching Aaron Garcia and the Predators take on Jacksonville in the 2010 playoffs.
It was the Barnstormers first year back in the league, but Garcia and that Predators team was one of – if not – my favorite to watch.
The pair of teams scored 60 points combined in the fourth quarter including 31 from the Predators as they escaped with a 73-69 win in Jacksonville.
Like I said, I don’t remember a ton from the game, but my family and I watched it in our living room. The only reason my Mom let me keep it on the TV was because of how great of a game it was and because she could tell neither of the teams liked each other all that much.
Hopefully, this Saturday when the teams match up for the first time as NAL franchises, we will get half as good of games as we’ve seen in this series in the past. That game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be live streamed on YouTube. As always, we’ll have updates on twitter at @LWOS_IndoorFB.