Sugar Skulls gear up for franchise opener

Tucson heads to San Diego Sunday for a 6 p.m. kickoff

Sugar Skulls Media Day

TUCSON, AZ - When they take the field Sunday in San Diego, the Tucson Sugar Skulls will be the first professional football team from Tucson, Arizona to take a snap.

The Sugar Skulls arrive with a first-year head coach Marcus Coleman who is coming off a United Bowl championship as defensive coordinator for the Iowa Barnstormers.

The team 25-man roster is a mix of indoor football veterans and rookies but includes two quarterbacks with IFL experience. Jake Medlock and Matt Behrendt joined the team late in training camp, and both have impressive résumés.

Medlock led the IFL in passing yards (2,616), completions (265) and touchdowns (47) in 2018 playing for the Cedar Rapids Titans, now known as the River Kings.

Behrendt spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons with the Green Bay Blizzard.

Neither has been named the starter.

Defensively, the Sugar Skulls have two of the best players in the IFL with All-IFL defensive lineman Keith Jones Jr. and All-IFL linebacker Zach Allen, both of whom were with the Barnstormers in 2018.

Jones was third in the league with 5½ sacks. Allen led the Barnstormers with 84 total tackles.

The Sugar Skulls have four players on their roster who played their high school football in the Tucson area. Linebacker Robert Metz is from Canyon Del Oro High School, offensive lineman Antonio Rosales played at Tucson High School, defensive back Cam Gaddis played at Santa Rita High School and Pima Community College, and offensive lineman Alejandro Rios played at Sahuarita High School.

This week’s game pits the two new IFL franchises against each other for the first of four meetings this season.

The Sugar Skulls had a season-opening bye week while the Strike Force lost their season opener at the Quad City Steamwheelers, 67-49.

Kickoff is 6 p.m. at Pechanga Arena in San Diego.

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