Phoenix – The Arizona Rattlers (12-0) return home to Talking Stick Resort Arena this Saturday to take on the Tucson Sugar Skulls (6-6) for the fourth time this season.
While Arizona has already reserved their spot in the Conference Championship, a win this weekend would bring them one step closer to clinching home field throughout the Indoor Football League (IFL) postseason.
In the inaugural season of the Sugar Skulls, the Rattlers have won the first three matchups between their intrastate rivals. While Saturday will be the final meeting between the two teams in the regular season, there is a possibility that they clash in the postseason.
The Rattlers are coming off a 56-0 victory on the road over the Cedar Rapids River Kings last weekend. It was their first shutout in franchise history and the first one in the IFL since the 2015 season.
The offensive attack was led by RB Roland Genesy Jr. who got the start and converted 11 carries into 60 yards and three touchdowns. He is now up to seven rushing touchdowns in three games played. QB Drew Powell started under center and threw for 70 yards while adding 38 rushing yards and two total touchdowns in the first half.
QB Jeff Ziemba took over after halftime and completed two passes for 24 yards and also rushed for 16 yards. WR Jarrod Harrington led Arizona with 52 receiving yards including a 45-yard touchdown reception.
Meanwhile, the Tucson Sugar Skulls are coming off a bye week. Their most recent game was a 62-47 loss to the Rattlers at Tucson Arena on May 25. The Sugar Skulls enter this contest with a one-game lead over the Nebraska Danger (5-7) and the Quad City Steamwheelers (5-7) with just two playoff spots still to be claimed.
Tucson's offense was paced by QB Jake Medlock who threw for 156 yards and five touchdowns. He also led the Sugar Skulls with 54 yards on the ground. RB Mike Jones averages 55.4 rushing yards per game which is second-most in the IFL, but was held to 15 rushing yards on nine carries.
WR Jeremiah Harris led the team with 88 receiving yards and two scores while WR Shaq Curenton and WR Rico Brown each caught two touchdown passes in the loss.
The Rattlers shutout effort over Cedar Rapids was led defensively by DL Nik D'Avanzo. D'Avanzo finished with eight tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, a blocked field goal attempt, and one pass breakup.
DL Lance McDowdell also added 1.5 TFL to go along with a blocked kick. DB Davontae Merriweather contributed eight tackles, one TFL, and an interception returned 26 yards for a touchdown. DB Devin Cockrell also scored a defensive touchdown on a 38-yard fumble recovery.
Against Arizona, Tucson's defense was led by DL Micah Eugene Jr. who finished with five tackles. DL Edward Mosley and Keith Jones Jr. each added one TFL. The Sugar Skulls have the third-best rushing defense in the IFL, yielding only 75.4 rushing yards per game.
The Rattlers and Sugar Skulls square off this Saturday with kickoff slated for 5:00 p.m. AZT. Fans can catch all the action locally on Your Phoenix CW 61.1 and also live on YouTube.