Phoenix, Ariz. – Last year, the Arizona Rattlers (1-0) ended their season with a 12-game win streak, won their conference, and claimed the United Bowl title. Only one thing was left unfinished. Enter the Iowa Barnstormers (1-0). Arizona only played Iowa once last season, a 4-point loss at home (51-47 Iowa). The Rattlers had to wait until this Saturday for a rematch, only this time, it will be in Des Moines.
Saturday is the first of three games the Rattlers and the Barnstormers will see each other this season, and both teams will also enter Wells Fargo Arena atop the Indoor Football League (IFL) standings. So, the winner will take the lead in the series, and have a decisive advantage for home field advantage in the playoffs.
The Rattlers extended their total win streak to 13 in week one with a 39-33 win against the Sioux Falls Storm (0-1); a game that had three ties and five lead changes. The game was all knotted up at 30 apiece with 40 seconds left, when DE Josh Gordon forced a fumble that resulted in a safety, which essentially ended the game.
Iowa also enters the game on a high note, winning their season opener against the Green Bay Blizzard (0-2) by a score of 41-20. The Barnstormers held a seven-point lead halfway through the fourth quarter when they finally pulled away with two touchdown passes from QB Drew Powell.
Offensively, the Rattlers rushing attack is led by Darrell Monroe, who currently ranks first in the IFL with 87 yards per game. Arizona will also be looking to rookie QB Jeff Ziemba. Last game, he came in after QB Verlon Reed went out in the first series, and helped lead the Rattlers to a win over the Storm, throwing for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
Iowa is led by QB Drew Powell, who completed 20 of his 26 passes for 208 yards and four touchdowns in his game against the Blizzard. He also was the top rusher for the Barnstormers with 48 yards on the ground. For his efforts, Powell was named IFL Week 1 Offensive Player of the Week. WR Ryan Balentine also had a big game in week one for Iowa. He hauled in 10 catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
On the defensive side for the Rattlers, DE Chris McAllister currently leads the league in tackles for loss with 3.5. He had seven total tackles in the first game. Arizona's defense is also led by a veteran secondary of Arkeith Brown, Allen Chapman, Nate Lindsey and Dillion Winfrey, all of whom return from the 2017 championship team.
Iowa's defense is led by LB Zachary Allen. In their game against the Blizzard, Allen recorded 12 total tackles, 1.5 for a loss, and had a pass breakup. Up front for Iowa, DL Keith Jones Jr. had 4.5 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, and a sack.
The matchup will take place this Saturday, March 10th at 6:05 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, and can be seen live on YouTube.