by Charlie Sokaitis
May 7, 2010
Alaska indoor football isn't the exclusive property of Anchorage and Fairbanks. There's a pro team in the Mat-Su Valley too, though it plays in a different league than its urban counterparts.
Most folks begin to wind down for the day at 9 p.m., but the Arctic Predators are not most folks. For this group of indoor football players, 9 p.m. is time to stretch -- because it's the time their practice begins at the Wasilla Sports Complex.
The Predators are getting ready for the fifth game of an inaugural campaign Saturday against their American Indoor Football Association foe, the Wenatchee Venom. The team is fresh off its first win, a thrilling 66-63 road victory over Yakima -- which was a fitting place for that game to be played.
"It was kind of comical -- we even had a bout of food poisoning, we even had a big tub, big trash can on our bench and had to use that throughout the whole game," said Predators coach Hans Deemer. "And I was dumping Gatorades down them and water, trying to keep them hydrated, and it was pretty funny."
The team is hoping it won't take a tubful of stomach contents to get their first home win as a franchise. The last time the Predators played in front of a friendly crowd, it didn't got their way, but that was just the second game of the season -- and things have changed since then.
"The first home game was trying to put the pieces together, so it looked a little bit like we weren't as good as we really are," said wide receiver/defensive back Andre Velazquez. "That same team that came up here and beat us, we went down there and beat them in their home, so we have a quarterback, Damion Ward, back, we have a new receiver core put together, and, you know, we're looking forward to a good game -- put on a show for the fans."
What kind of show, exactly? Well, this is a team built for attacking the end zone.
"You know what, we're good with the deep ball, we're going up top as much as we can, put on a show for the crowd," Velazquez said.
As much as this group is about football and building a winning team, it's also about community, and a vision that Deemer has for what the Predators should be going forward.
"That's my dream, all along, it always has been -- it's a place for our kids that go Outside and play college football but aren't quite good enough to play obviously in the higher levels, to come back now and play right here at home," Deemer said. "And we're just going to continue to try and build football in Alaska with Alaskans and see where we get."
Contact Charlie Sokaitis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2013, KTUU-TV