Kent Predators hire new Indoor Football League coach after Billings team folds

The Kent Predators of the professional Indoor Football League have hired Heron O'Neal, the former Billings Outlaws coach, as their new coach for the 2011 season. O'Neal became available after the Billings team folded last week. O'Neal coached the Outlaws to the 2009 and 2010 Indoor Football League titles. In five years at Billings, O'Neal had a 67-17 record and won three league titles.

The Kent Predators of the professional Indoor Football League have hired Heron O’Neal, the former Billings Outlaws coach, as their new coach for the 2011 season.

O’Neal became available after the Billings team folded last week. O’Neal coached the Outlaws to the 2009 and 2010 Indoor Football League titles.

In five years at Billings, O’Neal had a 67-17 record and won three league titles.

“I am honored by the opportunity the Kent Predator organization has provided me,” said O’Neal in a Tuesday Predators media release. “I am looking forward to instilling a championship mindset here in Kent.”

Michael Tuckman, listed in the media release as the new President and CEO of the Predators, praised the hiring of O’Neal.

“My partners and I are thrilled to have someone with coach O’Neal’s background and experience guiding the Predators into our second IFL season,” Tuckman said. “As both a player and coach, Heron’s been a winner everywhere he’s gone, and we pledge to provide him with the resources he needs to make the Kent Predators his next IFL championship team in 2011.”

O’Neal is a native of Chicago and a graduate of Western Michigan University.

The Predators finished the 2010 season with a 5-9 record. They were fourth out of five teams in the Pacific North Division and failed to make the 16-team playoffs in the 24-team league.

The Predators drew an average of about 2,000 fans per game at the ShoWare Center. They played seven home games from March through June at the 6,000-seat arena.

The Billings team disbanded last week, according to the Billings Gazette Web site. The owners told the newspaper that the team had a $42,000 deficit that needed to be covered to save the season and had hoped to work out a deal with the Yellowstone County commissioners to get the money, but that deal fell through.

O’Neal replaces William McCarthy as coach. McCarthy was hired last year by Kent after he lost his assistant coaching job with the El Paso Generals. El Paso folded after one year in the new league.

The Indoor Football League plans to release the 2011 schedule this month. The league added a team in Wenatchee for the 2011 season.

Kent played in a division with Billings, Tri-Cities, Fairbanks and the Alaska Wild of Anchorage. The Anchorage team folded before the end of the season while the Fairbanks team remained.

The Indoor Football League, based in Richmond, Va., was created in 2008 with the merger of the Intense Football League and United Indoor Football.


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