The Tucson Sugar Skulls’ season has come down to one game for everything the franchise set it sights on last summer.
A win over the Quad City Steamwheelers on Saturday at the Tucson Arena and the Sugar Skulls will pack their bags for their first playoff game the following weekend at either the Green Bay Blizzard or Sioux Falls Storm. A loss and the season ends short of a goal the franchise set when its formation was announced in August.
“This is the start of the playoffs for us,” said Head Coach Marcus Coleman. “You either win or you go home.”
The Sugar Skulls will be facing a team that dominated them on April 20, scoring on every offensive possession with only one of those scores being a field goal. The 72 points by the Steamwheelers were a season high against the Tucson defense. The loss was the third in a four-game midseason losing streak for the Sugar Skulls.
Tucson came out of the skid and won three straight games to put it in playoff position despite back-to-back losses to the Arizona Rattlers, the latest a heart-breaking overtime loss in Phoenix on Saturday.
“Everybody has moved on from last week,” Coleman said earlier this week. “Usually we go back and make corrections on the game before. We didn’t even watch the Arizona film. We went straight to Quad City the next day.
“I like where the focus is right now. It seems like everybody’s got that tunnel vision that you need to play a game like this.”
Notes & Numbers
- There are three playoff scenarios for the Sugar Skulls: A win coupled with a loss by Nebraska to Iowa and Tucson is the 5th seed in the playoffs. The Sugar Skulls would play at No. 4 Green Bay on Friday at 5 p.m., Tucson time. A Sugar Skulls win and a win by Nebraska, and Tucson is the 6th seed. That would mean a playoff game at No. 3 Sioux Falls at 1 p.m. Sunday. A loss and Tucson is eliminated.
- Although they don’t own a win over the top two teams in the IFL, the Sugar Skulls can hang their hats on giving the unbeaten Arizona Rattlers and second-seed Iowa Barnstormers all they could handle. In addition to taking the Rattlers to overtime, the Sugar Skulls lost to Iowa on a touchdown with seven seconds left in the game.
- After practice Thursday, the majority of the team along with the coaching staff held a youth clinic on the Tohono O’odham reservation in Sells in support of teammate Antonio Rosales, who is a member of the Tohono O’odham nation