TUCSON, ARIZONA – When a team is on a three-game losing skid, the ideal remedy probably isn’t to take on the defending league champion to try to end it.
That’s the position the Sugar Skulls, 3-4, find themselves in as they await the arrival of the Iowa Barnstormers, 6-1, for a game abundant with back stories.
Sugar Skulls Head Coach Marcus Coleman and two of his assistants, Hurtis Chinn and Malcolm Nelson, were all assistants to Barnstormers Head Coach Dixie Wooten for their championship run last year.
Two Sugar Skulls players, linebacker Zach Allen and defensive lineman Keith Jones Jr., were part of that team. A third Skulls player, defensive back Dee Maggitt Jr., was an all-league player for the Barnstormers in 2017.
With the Sugar Skulls coming in with three straight losses, Coleman said he’s more concerned with just winning a game than with who it might be against.
“It won’t be any different than facing anybody else to tell you the truth,” he said this week. “You’ll talk to some of the guys. The coaches will talk. But I don’t think a victory will be any more special than any other because of where we are. We’re trying to get a win. There are no personal feelings about this. It’s all business.”
Costly turnovers and a porous defense last week have been the story of the losing streak. The Quad City Steamwheelers scored on every offensive possession in a 72-54 victory last week in Moline, Illinois. Turnovers were the difference in losses by six points and 14 points to the Nebraska Danger and Arizona Rattlers the previous two weeks.
“It’s mainly been execution,” Coleman said. “The effort is there, but it’s my job to have a plan in place. We’ve been making some changes and doing things differently. So far it’s been good. Guys have been moving around a lot faster, not thinking as much, just going out and playing.”
Notes & Numbers
- The Sugar Skulls welcomed back 2018 All-IFL defensive lineman Keith Jones Jr. this week. Jones was invited to tryout for an Arena Football League team and returned to the Sugar Skulls after missing two games.
- Despite missing a total of three games, Jones is still second on the team in tackles for loss with four. Zach Allen leads the team with 7.5.
- Dee Maggitt Jr. earned his second player of the week honor this week when he was named for special teams. He had a 53-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the loss to the Steamwheelers.
- Despite the losing streak, the Sugar Skulls’ offense remains atop the league in total yards with an average of 276 per game.
- Running back Mike Jones is third in the league in rushing average with 53.5 yards per game. He leads the team with 13 touchdowns.
Here are the Game Notes