Friday night at ShoWare Center, the Indoor Football League played its first game in Kent. It was football unlike many had ever seen. The Kent Predators lost, 57-42, to the Fairbanks Grizzlies.
KENT — For those who had never seen an indoor football game, the opening kickoff at the home opener for the Kent Predators spoke volumes.
Predators kicker Justin Miller, who played soccer at Seattle University, tried an onside kick. The kick sailed over the boards surrounding the field, into the lap of a fan, who then spilled his beer. The fan got to keep the ball as a souvenir — no word if the team refilled his beer cup.
Welcome to the world of the Indoor Football League, where just about anything goes: The scores are high, music blares nonstop, players hit hard and coaches roam the field calling plays and barking instructions.
Friday night at ShoWare Center, the IFL traveling circus rolled into town for the first time. It was football unlike many had ever seen but it was football that most seemed to enjoy, despite the fact the Predators lost, 57-42, to the Fairbanks Grizzlies.
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The Predators remained winless on the season (0-3).
The field was a 50-yard piece of AstroTurf inside the Seattle Thunderbirds’ hockey rink.
“You feel like you are part of the game,” said Rick Rhodes of Puyallup, who sat in the first row near the end zone with his 5-year-old son, Cameron. “I’m a football guy anyway so I’d watch a game in a parking lot, but this is great entertainment.”
The 1,600 fans were part of the action. Every time a football went flying from the field, it became a souvenir for a fan. In the first half alone, fans got their hands on 18 footballs.
Fans were so close to the field that players would dive into the crowd and have to be helped back over the wall. The fans who packed the end-zone beer gardens saw their share of action as well from players going over the wall and celebrating touchdowns.
“You see a lot of things you don’t normally see in an NFL game, that’s for sure,” said Joe Slye of Seattle. “With the field being so small, it’s a wild game.”
Being it’s an expansion team, Predators director of operations Jim Granacker knew there would be growing pains, but he was happy.
“This is what we were hoping for,” said Granacker. “People got here early, stayed for the whole game and had a great time.”
The Predators made a second-half rally using a 45-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Charles McCullum to receiver Andre Jordan with 1:25 left in the third quarter to pull to within 41-34 but that would be as close as they would get. Fairbanks outscored Kent 16-8 the rest of the way to seal the victory.