They began the season as newcomers to the Indoor Football League, brand new franchises, unfamiliar with each other, and unfamiliar with themselves.
Nine games into their first seasons, the TucsonSugar Skulls and San Diego Strike Force are now-old counterparts as they prepare to face each other for the fourth time, and a second time in five days. The two teams will square off for the final time Thursday at Pechanga Arena. Kickoff is 7 p.m.Pacific and Arizona time.
The Sugar Skulls have had the better of the fledgling rivalry, winning all three games by an average of just over 20 points. The Sugar Skulls on, 54-34, on Saturday in Tucson. Head CoachMarcus Coleman cautions that beating a team four times in a season won’t be easy for Tucson, which currently sits in sixth place in the IFL, holding the last post-season playoff spot.
“It’s a challenge because they’re as familiar with us as we are with them,” Coleman said.“Regardless of what a team’s record is and what struggles they may be facing, it’s hard to beat a team three, four, five times in a row. It just is.
”The Sugar Skulls arrive ranked second in the IFL in total offense and with an improving defense since giving up 72 points in an April 20 loss to the Quad City Steamwheelers. Tucson lost an April 27 heartbreaker to the Iowa Barnstormers by three points on a controversial no-call on an Iowa touchdown with seven seconds left to play. They snapped a four-game losing streak and allowed a season-low 163 yards to the Strike Force last week.
“We had a lot better communication,” Coleman said after Saturday’s victory. “We all worked hard on getting them ready and they did a good job of putting in the work, studying and understanding what San Diego did.”
The Sugar Skulls defense got a boost from a newcomer, defensive back Kasey Johnson, who led the team with seven tackles including a tackle for a loss. Cam Gaddis collected his third interception of the season and now leads the team in that category.
Official Game Notes