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TUCSON, ARIZONA – The Tucson Sugar Skulls will hold a second preseason open tryout on Feb. 29, giving players another opportunity at an invite to 2020 training camp which will begin March 3.

The tryout will be held at the Salpointe Catholic High School varsity football field, 1545 E. Copper St. Registration is at 8 a.m. and the tryout will begin promptly at 9 a.m. The cost is $80 per player. Cash and money orders are the only acceptable forms of payment. All players intending to try out must register and sign a waiver to participate. The general public is invited to attend.

Two players from last season’s tryouts – offensive lineman Alex Rios and wide receiver Malique Belfort – both made the active roster and appeared in games. A third player was invited to preseason camp.

The coaching staff, including Head Coach Dixie Wooten, will evaluate participants in the 40-yard dash, short shuttles and position drills.

Participants must provide their own cleats, shorts and accessories and must be prepared upon their arrival. No locker room facilities will be available, although restrooms will be accessible. The tryout is non-contact, therefore pads and helmets are not necessary.

Film and player resumes can be sent anytime to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Sugar Skulls open their second season on March 19 with a visit to the Cedar Rapids River Kings. The seven-game home schedule begins March 29 when the Duke City Gladiators visit the Tucson Arena.

Season tickets for the 2020 season are currently on sale to the general public with reduced prices from the 2019 season in several sections of the arena. Season ticket information is on the Sugar Skulls website at www.tucsonsugarskulls.com. Information also is available by calling the team office at (520) 573-3000. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


TUCSON, ARIZONA – The Tucson Sugar Skulls have named Kristi Lopez director of the Sugar Dolls dance team, bringing a nationally recognized coach and dancer to head the program.

Lopez is currently on the faculty of Walden Grove High School in Sahuarita as a dance teacher and is the head coach and choreographer for the school’s PAC Dance Team. The dance team, formed in 2011, has been a viral sensation on YouTube with its elaborate dance routines and staging. The team’s YouTube videos have generated more than 100 million views for their themed performances of Disney’s Pixar, the Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, and the Marvel superheroes. Lopez will continue her duties at Walden Grove and the PAC Dance Team in addition to her role with the Sugar Dolls.

“Kristi’s resume as a dancer, choreographer and coach is unmatched in our community and we are ecstatic that she’s decided to join our organization,” said Sugar Skulls Owner Cathy Guy. “We are committed to giving fans the best experience when they come to our games and the Sugar Dolls are a big part of the show. Kristi will take our team to a much higher level at games and in the community.”

Lopez is originally from Southern California and grew up in Florida where she joined a professional ballet company at the age of 13. She moved to Arizona when her father, Andy Lopez, became the head coach of the Arizona Wildcats baseball team for the 2002 season.

She graduated from Sabino High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from the UA School of Dance. In 2004, she won the Ms. Dance Arizona competition and competed for the national title of Ms. Dance USA. While in college, she performed with a number of dance companies and also taught ballet and technique classes at dance studios and high schools throughout the community. In addition to her dance degree, Lopez earned a degree in elementary education from the UA.

In 2009, Lopez joined her sister, Kerri Lopez-Howell, as a dance team coach at Sabino High School where they won back-to-back state championships in 2010 and 2011. She then started the dance program at Walden Grove and formed the PAC Dance Team which has grown from 60 students to 200.

Lopez was named Walden Grove Teacher of the Year in 2014, Sahuarita Unified School District Teacher of the Year in 2014, Circle K Teacher of the Year in 2015, and Tucson Hip-Hop Teacher Honoree in 2017.

“I am extremely excited and humbled for the opportunity to coach and direct dance at the professional level,” Lopez said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of making the Sugar Dolls an integral part of the Sugar Skulls organization. I’m eager to work closely with the organization and the community of Tucson.”


TUCSON, ARIZONA – The Tucson Sugar Skulls have signed defensive lineman BJ Butler, a four-year veteran of the Indoor Football League who spent the last three years with the Iowa Barnstormers.

Butler, 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, has 119 career tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss and 17 passes broken up. He intercepted three passes as a rookie with the Billings Wolves in 2016.

He had a pair of tackles and broke up a pass when Iowa defeated the Sugar Skulls, 61-58, in Tucson last season.

Butler played four years at the University of Louisville where he became a starter on the defensive line as a true freshman. He also played tight end and fullback for the Cardinals. He is from Kissimmee, Fla., and played quarterback at Osceola High School.

The current roster is below:

Name Pos Ht Wt College
Brandon Bailey DB 6’1 185 Savannah State
Ryan Balentine WR 6'1 180 Southern Mississippi
Linwood Banks DL 6’1 290 Grambling State
Adolphus Barnes OL 6'4 285 Eastern Illinois
Kordell Brewster OL 6'2 270 UL-Lafayette
BJ Butler DL 6’4 300 Louisville
Cory Butler DB/WR 5'9 180 Utah
Cam Gaddis DB 6'1 195 Pima Community College
Jajuan Harley DB 6'2 215 Middle Tennessee State
Jeremiah Harris WR 5'8 155 Webber International
Marquise Irvin WR 6’3 216 Mercer University
Randall Jackson-Clemons OL 6’4 301 Georgetown College
Mike Jones RB 5'11 210 Bethune-Cookman
Lawrence Keys OL 6'2 300 UNC-Pembroke
TreQuan King RB 5'11 190 Texas Tech
DJ Loving OL 6’3 306 Grand View University
Kyle Martin DB 5’9 190 Arkansas State
Tevin Madison DB 5’10 180 Texas Tech
Chris Martin DL 6’5 265 Florida
Johnny McCrary QB 6'4 210 Vanderbilt
Reggie McGee DL 6’1 240 Ball State
Warren Messer LB 5'11 227 Elon University
Robert Metz DL 6'4 240 Dixie State
Michael Minter Jr. DB 6,0 175 Middle Tennessee State
Daquan Neal QB 6'2 215 Elizabeth City State
Koree Reed WR 6'0 185 Hartwick College
Jeremy Schonbrunner OL 6’3 310 Temple University
Kent Shelby WR 6'2 210 McNeese State
Ryan Wood DB 6’1 200 Chadron State
Khalil Young DL 6’5 240 Mississippi Valley State

The Sugar Skulls will play seven regular-season home games at the Tucson Arena with the home opener on March 29 versus the Duke City Gladiators. The regular season will go through June 27. The IFL playoffs will begin in early July.

Season tickets for the 2020 season are currently on sale to the general public with reduced prices from the 2019 season in several sections of the arena. Season ticket information is on the Sugar Skulls website at www.tucsonsugarskulls.com. Information also is available by calling the team office at (520) 573-3000. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


TUCSON, ARIZONA –The Tucson Sugar Skulls have named three new assistant coaches for the 2020 season, including a coach familiar to local football fans.

Brandon Sanders, known for his role on the Arizona Wildcats’ famed “Desert Swarm” defense of the mid 1990s, has been hired as the defensive backs coach on the staff of first-year head coach Dixie Wooten.

Sanders most recently was the head coach and athletic director at Pueblo High School in Tucson where he turned around a Warriors football program that had not had a winning season in more than a decade. Pueblo was 41-22 in Sanders’ six seasons as head coach and made the state playoffs three times. In addition to his time at Pueblo, Sanders was an assistant coach at Catalina Foothills High School and Pima Community College. This past season he was named the Vern Friedli Southern Arizona Coach of the Year by All Sports Tucson. He also was named Athletic Director of the Year in 2016.

“Brandon Sanders is a huge pickup for our coaching staff,” Wooten said. “With his Tucson background at Arizona, his NFL background, and his strong coaching ability, we will have a great secondary.”

Sanders played a key role at safety on the Wildcats’ “Desert Swarm” defense from 1992 to 1995 and was one of the UA players on the cover of Sports Illustrated when the Wildcats were ranked No. 1 by the magazine headed into the 1994 season. Sanders played three years in the NFL with the New York Giants. He also played in the original XFL and NFL Europe.

Chuck Miller has been named assistant head coach and offensive line coach. He is entering his fifth year coaching in professional indoor football and will be in his 13th season coaching at various levels, mostly in the Chicago area. He was on Wooten’s staff as defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at the Iowa Barnstormers last season when the team posted a 12-2 regular season record and made it to the IFL conference championship game. He previously spent two years coaching the offensive line at the Green Bay Blizzard and coached one year with the Chicago Eagles of the Champions Indoor Football league.

Xzavie Jackson has been named defensive line coach and special teams coordinator. Jackson is the career IFL sacks leader with 81½. After playing at the University of Missouri, Jackson spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals. He played for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League in 2008. Jackson spent most of his IFL career playing for the Nebraska Danger.

Jackson joined the coaching staff at Nebraska in 2017 where he coached the defensive line for three years. He played and coached with the Danger in 2018. His first name is pronounced

The Sugar Skulls also announced that they have retained Glenn Howell as their strength and conditioning coach.

Howell has 24 years of experience as a sports strength and conditioning specialist and owns his own business, Howell Athletics, specializing in the field in Tucson. He was a two-year starter at tight end for the Arizona Wildcats in the mid-1980s and was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection in 1985.

“To win championships in the IFL, your coaching staff is a major key,” Wooten said. “With these men, the Sugar Skulls are closer to winning a championship.

“Having Chuck on staff with me another year is huge. He brings hard work and understanding to the team. Xzavie Jackson is the IFL sack leader, and now he can teach our D-line everything he knows.”

The Sugar Skulls open their second season on the road at Cedar Rapids on March 19 then open their seven-game home schedule on March 29 when the Duke City Gladiators visit. Season tickets and a new, four-game Blitz Pack can be purchased now. Information is available at www.tucsonsugarskulls.com or by calling (520) 573-3000.



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