The Indoor Football League will kick off its 10th season next Friday when the Nebraska Danger and Cedar Rapids Titans face off. It’s also a week until the Arizona Rattlers begin their road to a repeat as champions.
Last season, the Rattlers left the Arena Football League and joined the Indoor Football League. After an 0-2 start, Arizona would go to win 12 of their final 14, including their final 11 games, to be the #1 seed in the Intense Conference.
They would defeat the Danger in the Intense Conference Championship game and would advance to United Bowl IX to face off against the six-time defending champion Sioux Falls Storm. This would be the biggest challenge of their first season in the IFL.
When it came to the game, they dominated the first half. They held a 34-7 halftime lead. It looked as if they were going to run with it. That wasn’t the case, however. The Storm would shut out the Rattlers 21-0 in the third and make it a 34-28 game headed into the final frame.
Arizona would prevail, however, and win United Bowl IX by a final score of 60-51. They dethroned the storm, who hadn’t been dethroned since 2010.
Now, they will look to run the six-team league once more, and it will be easier than it was before.
They will be led by 2017 IFL Rookie of the Year Verlon Reed, Jr. Quarterback Kody Sokol will be playing football overseas and Darron Thomas is no competition to Reed, so expect him to win that starting job. He led the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles in passing [of course] and rushing. He is a huge key to their success.
Also returning to the team will be wide receiver Anthony Amos who has been a key in the passing game for Arizona over the last few seasons. He is also a contributor in the special teams game, as he can return kicks.
They’ve also acquired and re-signed several key players on defense, such as defensive back James Calhoun (five pick-sixes last season), defensive back Allen Chapman (led league in passes defended, second in INTs (8)) and United Bowl IX MVP Justin Shirk (7.5 sacks).
Arizona’s road to repeat begins next Sunday, Feb. 25, when they host the Storm in a rematch of United Bowl IX. They, along with the other five teams in the league, will be looking to win United Bowl X, which is scheduled to be played the weekend of July 7.