TUCSON, Arizona – The Tucson Sugar Skulls take their quest for an IFL playoff berth to Bismarck on Saturday, looking for their third straight victory to hold their spot in the standings.
Tucson is coming off back-to-back victories over the San Diego Strike Force over a five-day stretch and take their longest road trip since visiting the Quad City Steamwheelers on April 20.
Since going through a four-game losing streak in April, Head Coach Marcus Coleman has taken the approach of calling each game a one-game season as the Sugar Skulls try to make the playoffs in their inaugural season. Tucson is 1-0 and 1-0 in those two seasons and sits in a tie for fifth place. The top six teams make the playoffs with the first- and second-place teams earning a first-round bye.
Tucson has a two-game lead over Quad City with four games to play. The Steamwheelers defeated the Sugar Skulls in their first meeting. The two teams face off again in Tucson in the season finale June 15.
The Sugar Skulls were tested in the fourth and final meeting with their expansion partner, the Strike Force, on May 9 in San Diego. It was a still a three-point game early in the fourth quarter when defensive lineman Robert Metz pressured quarterback Jihad Vercher and deflected a pass that defensive lineman Rayshawn Henderson intercepted with a diving catch. Henderson was named IFL Defensive Player of the Week for the game that also included five tackles and a sack.
Tucson and Bismarck will be meeting for the second time. The Sugar Skulls won the first matchup, 62-42, in the team's home opener on March 10. In that game, quarterback Matt Behrendt threw eight touchdown pass and was named IFL Offensive Player of the Week. Behrendt has been sharing quarterback duties with Jake Medlock and finished up the last week's victory over the Strike Force throwing three TD passes after Medlock took a hard hit on a sack in the third quarter.