February 18, 2019
Doug Miller’s nine seasons as a player and assistant coach with the Orlando Predators ended with trips to the playoffs.
Now the franchise’s seventh head coach in its latest reincarnation, he has much bigger ambitions as the Preds inch closer to debuting in the National Arena League this April.
“I want to bring a championship back to the city of Orlando,” Miller said at a press conference Friday to formally announce the return of arena football to Amway Center.
Kenny McEntyre and the newly-launched Orlando Predators introduced former player and assistant Doug Miller as the team’s head coach today at Amway Center. The Preds kickoff in the National Arena League this April.
An ownership group led by former Preds player Kenny McEntyre gained approval on Jan. 16 to join the New York Streets as expansion teams in the NAL. The eight-team National Arena League is entering its third season with other franchises located in Jacksonville, Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Maine and Massachusetts.
“With the addition of the Orlando Predators, we’ve let everybody around the landscape of arena football know that we’re here to stay, and that we’re growing in the right way,” NAL commissioner Chris Siegfried said.
The relaunch of the Orlando Predators was more than a year in the making for McEntyre. The previous ownership group folded the team following the 2016 Arena Football League season.
McEntyre and Miller were teammates during the AFL’s heyday under the late Fran Papasedero and current Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden in the 2000s. Barry Wagner and Herkie Walls were among former players in attendance at the press conference Friday.
“When [McEntyre] first called me, he let me know, ‘I’m not thinking about you as a coach because you’re my friend, but because you’ve coached in the past,’ and my résumé spoke for itself,” Miller said. “For him to give me that phone call was very exciting, [and it’s] great to be back in Orlando.”
He said former Predators players Reggie Lee and James Lynch have been tabbed as assistant coaches, but that the search for an offensive coordinator is still ongoing.
Miller played along the offensive and defensive lines for the Predators from 2002-08 before coaching under former Preds quarterback Pat O’Hara during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. A Tampa native, he last coached with the Tampa Bay Storm in 2015.
“Doug is here because he’s a good coach, not because we played football together and were teammates and are golf buddies,” McEntyre said. “This is a business, and Doug understands that the fans here in Orlando are used to winning, and that’s what it’s going to be here.”
But the Preds don’t have a lot of time to get things in place. Orlando is starting from scratch when it comes to piecing together a roster in time for the start of its 14-game schedule, which is expected to kick off on April 12.
McEntyre said contracts have been extended to former UCF quarterback Kyle Israel and Bernard Morris, who quarterbacked the Preds from 2014-16. He also noted that a private workout will be held at some point with up to 80 players with professional experience.
The Preds are also hosting an open tryout on Sunday, Feb. 17, at Lake Brantley High School at 8 a.m.
“This is a hub for arena football,” McEntyre said of Orlando. “This is a destination where all players want to play and this is a place where you can’t fool the fans. These fans know arena football and that’s been evident for the last 20-something years.”
The Predators debuted in the AFL in 1991 and reached the league’s ArenaBowl championship game seven times from 1992 to 2006, winning titles in 1998 and 2000 with Gruden as head coach.
After the AFL folded following the 2008 season, the Preds returned in 2010 as part of a 15-team reorganized league and played their games at the old Amway Arena, new Amway Center and UCF’s CFE Arena through 2016.