After a regular season of ups and downs, streaks and anticipation, the Tucson Sugar Skulls are in the Indoor Football League playoffs in their first year as a franchise.
The question now becomes: How long do they get to stay?
Tucson, the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, travels to face the Sioux Falls Storm, the No. 3 seed, Sunday in a 1 p.m. game at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. The game will be live streamed on the IFL YouTube channel.
The playoff berth came down to the final seconds of the regular season finale when the Sugar Skulls held off a fourth-quarter rally by the Quad City Steamwheelers in a 55-50 playoff-clinching victory.
Now safely in the playoffs, Head Coach Marcus Coleman said all records are erased and it’s “win or go home” for all six teams in the postseason. He said his approach during the week of practice was for his team to know that this is a special game, different from the rest of the regular season.
“It’s not just another game and you have to approach it like that,” Coleman said earlier in the week. “You have to let guys know that the sense of urgency needs to be more than what it usually is. I don’t sugar coat it for them.”
The Sugar Skulls enter the game having won four of their last six games with both losses coming to the unbeaten Arizona Rattlers. The streak comes after the Sugar Skulls endured a four-game losing streak but stayed in the playoff hunt, and now they face one of the top teams in the league.
“Sioux Falls is a hard place to play. It always has been,” Coleman said. “I’m expecting a physical ball game. This is one of those games where it truly comes down to whoever makes the fewest mistakes. This is that kind of game.”
Notes & Numbers
- Running back Mike Jones finished the regular season as the top rusher among running backs in the IFL. His 59.3 average yards per game led the league. He finished with 711 total yards, just nine yards behind Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong who won the rushing title.
- Jones and quarterback Matt Behrendt produced two of the IFL’s top offensive performances of the season. Jones rushed for 116 yards against Quad City which was the second-highest single-game rushing total this season. He was named Offensive Player of the Week for the effort. Behrendt’s eight touchdown passes on March 10 against Bismarck was a season high.
- Coleman was the defensive coordinator for the Iowa Barnstormers last season when when they defeated the Sioux Falls Storm in the United Bowl.
- A win by the Sugar Skulls would mean a fifth meeting with the Arizona Rattlers on June 29. The Sugar Skulls took the Rattlers to overtime in Phoenix on June 15.