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Preparation and Luck Yield Win For 3-0 Predators

Adam Markowitz
Saturday March 29, 2014

"Luck is where preparation makes opportunity." –Orlando Predators Head Coach Rob Keefe

Some say that it's better to be lucky than good. On Saturday night in the 53th installment of the War on I-4, the Orlando Predators would tell you that luck is a byproduct of their hard work that they have put in all season long. Thanks to what Rob Keefe called "the grace of God," the Preds used a late fumble recovery to take down the Tampa Bay Storm 56-52.

It's been a tumultuous season for the Predators, ranging anywhere from not even having a coach at the start of free agency to having to move the team to a tremendously undersized CFE Arena to having to pull off 14 trades during the offseason just to compile a team which is chock full of rookies and second year players. Financial woes have plagued the team since the end of last season when Brett Bouchy was ousted as the managing partner of the team and replaced by David Pearsall.

But in spite of it all, 20 men dressed in white stood together before the opening coin toss as if they were all team captains. It was a sign of unity, just a part what Keefe referred to as a "team shield" which the Predators are putting up.

In fairness to the Preds, they had control of this game in the first half when they led 21-6 early in the second quarter. However, three straight Tampa Bay touchdowns had heads hung low on the Orlando bench, and it never felt like the team was going to get out of what became a double-digit hole going into the fourth quarter.

That's when a little bit of luck and a heck of a lot of heart brought the team back into the game. Jason Boltus, who was beaten and bruised all game long by a ferocious Tampa Bay offensive line to the tune of four sacks and 11 unofficial knockdowns, had a fantastic fourth quarter. He went 10-of-14 for 130 yards and three TDs in the final stanza.

However, it was the defense which made the play of the game when all seemed lost… with a little bit of luck, of course.

Randy Hippeard who, to his credit, had a fantastic game, throwing for seven TDs and rushing for an eighth, needed two sneaks forward to end get Tampa Bay out of the War on I-4 with a win. Unfortunately on his first attempt, the ball smacked on a helmet and jarred loose, giving Orlando back the football after a mad scramble.

"We wanted to pinch. We wanted to slice. We thought we were going to get a quarterback sneak," said Keefe. "We pinched inside. We got a helmet on the football, luckily for us… It worked out, and by the grace of God, we were able to keep the ball and do some things with it after."

Was it lucky? Sure. But like Keefe said, luck is where preparation met opportunity. The Preds were prepared for the situation at the end of this game. The opportunity arose to take advantage of it. And take advantage of it they did.

And that's why the Predators are 3-0 for the first time since 2005.

Without hard work and preparation, the argument could be made that the Preds would be 0-3. They were in the right place for defending the two-point conversion against Jacksonville. They were prepared to battle back from down 28-6 against Los Angeles. And they made the play they needed to play – even if there was some luck involved – to beat Tampa Bay.

There is a very fine line in sports between winning and losing, and that line is even skinnier in the Arena Football League. These Preds might not be the most talented team in the franchise's history, but the argument could be made through three games, that it is the team that has worked the hardest to try to reach its goals and prove one unnamed ArenaFan writer who said that they would finish the year at 4-14 wrong.

Can someone please pass the salt? This crow needs some of it.

Adam Markowitz is an accountant and a freelance sports writer living in Orlando. As a Florida State graduate with degrees in music and history, the garnet and gold will forever be a part of him, but he bleeds the black and red of the Orlando Predators like none other. Adam has been following the AFL since 1991 and has been at well over 200 games, including 16 ArenaBowls. You can follow Adam on Twitter @AFLGuru.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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