Week 8 Preview: Sharks vs Predators

by Steve Curran

Week 8 Preview: Sharks vs. Predators

Jacksonville Looks to Jump Orlando in Rankings this Saturday

JACKSONVILLE, FL - Your Jacksonville Sharks (3-4) ride into week 8, passing the midway point of the NAL season, with a two-game winning streak under their belt. Most recently defeating the San Antonio Gunslingers (0-5) in exciting fashion at home with a last play game-winning touchdown by quarterback Arville Nelson to secure the Sharks victory 72-67 in front of the home crowd. For a team that started the season 0-3, Jacksonville has made many roster moves in an effort to right the ship with two-time NAL Championship Coach Siaha Burley at the helm, the moves seem to be paying off as the Sharks (3-4) look to be turning this season around. They now find themselves in the top 4 of the NAL standings. This week the Sharks have a shot to move up to #3 facing the current holder of that seed, their rival the Orlando Predators (3-3). 

This will be the first meeting between the two teams in 2022.  A Saturday win will extend the Sharks win streak to three, improve the team record to 4-4, advance the team to 3rd place and within striking range of a top 2 seed that would allow the Sharks home field playoff advantage, however, before we get that far into the season the Shark will need to focus on this week 8 rivalry game win. 

Orlando is coming off a 48-44 victory over the Columbus Lions as they too enjoy a two-game win streak going into week 8. This all Florida Saturday Night showdown in Shark Tank is definitely a must watch if you are an arena football fan. The 2021 Predators seem to be putting extra emphasis on their defense currently allowing under 50 points a game, ranking in the top 3 defenses for fewest points allowed. Olando showcases not one but two top NAL defensive lineman as both Freddie Both Sha-Ki Holines have over five sacks so far this season. In the secondary, Orlando has All-NAL DB Josh Jenkins and defensive back David Randall who combined have six interceptions over six games. Offensively, Coach Higgins seems to have his eye set on quarterback Rakeem Cato, who won offensive player of the week for week 6 and currently has 110 passes for 1,124 yards and 33 touchdowns with only three interceptions so far. 

The key for the Sharks will be to slow down their defensive lineman and force their leading passer Rakeem Cato to make mistakes. The Sharks have a list of NAL stars of their own that make plays on both sides of the ball. Sharks quarterback Arville Nelson with two games under his belt is now 2-0 as the Sharks starter with a major victory over the Carolina Cobras (5-1) and his first home victory against the San Antonio Gunslingers (0-5). Nelson has 13 passing touchdowns this season averaging seven a game and has been a force in the Sharks rushing attack recording 43 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in two games. In the air, the Sharks have spotlighted their star All-NAL receiver Devin Wilson who has 15 receiving touchdowns this season (2nd Most-NAL). However, the Sharks have also made way for their youngest rising star WR/DB Nyqwan Murray who exploded last week with five touchdowns that included four receiving and 1 kick return for a touchdown. Murray currently ranks third in the NAL for receiving touchdowns with 10 so far this season arguably making Wilson and Murray the best receiver duo in the NAL this season with 35 touchdowns combined. Defensively, Jacksonville fans would love to see the Week 4 Sharks defense return who punished the Lions with eight sacks on the night and three interceptions. Last week the Sharks allowed the Gunslingers to score 67 points, their highest scoring game of the season. Jacksonville however, was able to make plays as both defensive back Markus Smith and MAC Chei Hill had sacks on the night and defensive back Clifton Duck made a crucial interception that may have saved the game for the Sharks.

Stats aside, one thing is for sure Jacksonville needs the home crowd advantage to rattle this 3-3 Orlando Predators team who enters the Shark Tank for the first time this year. The impact of this game can have major effects on where either team ends up at the regular season finale so save the sunblock and beach chairs for Sunday Shark Nation we need you in the Shark Tank ready for the NAL game of the Week this Saturday, June 3 with kickoff at 7pm. Tickets are on sale now at jaxsharks.com or give our ticket office a call at 904-621-0700  Find out how you can get a free Shark hat just for attending the game.  

About the Jacksonville Sharks

The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The 2019 & 2017 NAL Champions and ArenaBowl XXIV Champions play all their home games at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena. Sharks Nation Memberships for the 2022 season are now available. To become a Shark Nation member or for more information please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on Facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter and Instagram @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.