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Sippio Returns as Preds face Blaze in New Jungle

Jason Lucas
Saturday March 26, 2011

After a sloppy victory last Saturday against the New Orleans VooDoo, the Orlando Predators will play their first home game in the spanking new Amway Center when they face the Utah Blaze tonight.

The 47-34 win in New Orleans was the Preds (1-0) first victory in “The Graveyard,” since the VooDoo joined the league in 2007. Preds sophomore quarterback Nick Hill highlighted the triumph tossing four touchdown passes and rushing for two more. Hill’s performance was a far cry from the start of his rookie season where he struggled to find a rhythm and the team lost its first three contests.

The improvements in Hill were on display when he found wide receiver T.T. Toliver for consecutive touchdowns in the first half. The first was a toss just over the Jack linebacker and the second thrown softly over two defenders in the left corner of the end zone.

Perhaps Hill’s biggest threat is posed with his ability to break the pocket and run for first downs as well as running options and bootlegs down in the red zone.

While Toliver was the prime target on opening night, it will be the return of Bobby Sippio that the Blaze should be most concerned with heading into this game.

Sippio served a one-game suspension last week after the Preds front office outsmarted the league office last season to keep him eligible during the playoffs. You will all remember he was suspended for joining a fracas in the stands at St. Pete Times Forum.

A receiving corps consisting of Sippio, Toliver, Doug Gabriel, and Robert Quiroga along with a vastly improved Hill; should provide plenty of fireworks on the giant-sized scoreboard of the new Jungle.

Speaking of points, the Utah Blaze (1-0) scored plenty of them in their 72-36 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Storm last week. Led by 6’7 QB Tommy Grady, the Blaze will provide a great challenge to ruin the Preds first game in their new home. Grady threw for 306 yards and seven touchdowns last week.

The best thing the Predators can do is continue to bring pressure off the edges from Mark Robinson and Paul Griffin to contain Grady’s strong-armed attack. Orlando forced four turnovers from the VooDoo last week including picks from JLB Marlon Moye-Moore and defensive back Rayshaun Kizer.

A defense that is led by the veteran presence of Kenny “The Glove” McEntyre and Moye-Moore will be the most important key to victory in this one. In previous meetings with the Blaze, the Predators have had to either win with perfect offense or lose because of an inability to get stops on defense.

Former Gator great and current Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow will be in the house for this game that promises to be a high-scoring affair. Kickoff is set for 7:30 inside the Amway Center where the Predators will try to get off to a winning start in the new Jungle. This game will be broadcast locally on Brighthouse Sports Network with my good friend David Baumann on the call.

Jason Lucas is a part-time freelance writer based in the Orlando, Florida area. A former director of media relations with the Orlando Predators, Jason is making his return to after a short stint as a public relations assistant with the UFL‘s Florida Tuskers in 2010. Lucas has followed the AFL since 1992 and began covering the Predators for Arenafan during the 2004 season. He held that position until being picked up by the Preds front office after the 2007 season. Jason‘s knowledge of arena football and love of the game is what drives him to continue covering the sport.
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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