Football Predators blaze trail in winning, mentoring in first year
By Greg Markley
The East Alabama Predators, a new pro development football team whose home field is Moore Stadium on 7th Avenue in Opelika, has hit the ground running.
The team finished its regular season undefeated, has outscored most opponents by 20 or more points and recently was awarded the Heart of the South Conference trophy for winning the conference. The hard-charging team has drawn an attendance as high as 1,000 people on occasion.
In its 28-6 victory Aug. 29, honors were bestowed on halfback Latrell Jenkins as conference MVP, and he let people know why with over 120 yards on the ground.
In the second half, the Predators’ QB Charles Drinkard hooked up several times for touchdowns by Ralph Spry and Genaro Chisholm. Players and coaches play well, but they say they are motivated not just by wins or trophies but a higher source.
“We don’t have a team chaplain, so to say, but we do pray before and after every practice and give honor back to God,” noted Hunter Price, head coach. “He is the only reason we are able to play and coach the game we love so much, so for that we should all honor Him every day.”
Having a gridiron development team in East Alabama has been a dream for some time for Michael Martin, a businessman who himself played on a football team in Montgomery. According to Price, “Martin wanted to own a team here because he thought it would go over well in this part of the state. So far, so good!”
Sales on Predators merchandise are rising; items are available at Play It Again sports on Frederick Road in Opelika.
Price added: “It’s truly a blessing to be a part of a team with such great athletes and a coaching staff like we were able to assemble. The gridiron development concept is the same to the NFL as ‘farm league baseball’ is to Major League Baseball. These are guys who are trying to live out their dreams, and we are trying to help them get there.”
Rumors persist that the NFL is only a few years away from starting its own farm league, as MLB has.
“If they do, the Gridiron Development Football League is trying to position itself to be that official league for the NFL,” Price said.
With the 2014 East Alabama Predators as a catalyst, such a future league cannot lightly be dismissed.