Shock to square off with Sugar Skulls for first time in team history

A win over Sioux Falls last week kept Spokane in pole position to host a first-round playoff game.

It also kept them within a game of a first-round bye.

The Shock (5-2) used a defensive second half to sweep season series over the Sioux Falls Storm. Spokane gave up six points in the third and fourth quarter to win 46-35.

Today, the Shock will face the Tucson Sugar Skulls for the first time in team history at 6:05 p.m. at the Spokane Arena.

The Sugar Skulls (2-6) grabbed a one-point win over the Duke City Gladiators, their first win in six tries, ending a rough skid that included two losses by less than four points.

The Indoor Football Game of the week will be broadcast on CW22 in Spokane.

Which QB starts – Part 2

Another week, another QB question mark.

Luckily for the Shock, they now have two confirmed quarterbacks who can win a contest.

More healing was needed for starter Charles McCullum last week who was still nursing a bum ankle. It is still unknown if McCullum will be under center tonight, but if he isn’t, backup Blake Sims is ready to step up again.

With a game under his belt – Sims’ first in 6 ½ years – the 30-year-old rookie will be well-prepped to face the Sugar Skulls.

Sims threw for only 87 yards but directed six total touchdown drives – three of which he finished off for rushing touchdowns.

But McCullum will want to return soon considering he is still 185 yards short of the IFL all-time career passing record.

Petre special teams player of the week

Kicking is an under-appreciated art in football, specifically in the IFL where touchdowns are expected.

But the Shock have arguably the best kicker in the league in Sawyer Petre. He leads the league in field goal percentage (.563).

Petre was voted as the special teams player of the week after nailing three field goals – one from 44 yards to end the half – five PAT’s and a late deuce to help seal the game.

He also pinned the Storm deep in their endzone on multiple kickoffs.

Green Defensive Specialist

The Shock boast the league’s third-ranked scoring defense, giving up just over 35 points a game.

Mike Green leads the league with 62 tackles, all from the defensive back position.

Against the Sioux Falls, Green racked up 12 tackles, including a tackle for a loss on a key 2-point conversion for the Storm after they pulled within 2 with five minutes left in regulation.

The sixth-year pro will certainly line up against wideout Ryan Balentine, who averages 46.9 yards a game – eighth-best in the league.

The Sugar Skulls lean more toward the pass – their top-4 passing offense has thrown more passes than eight other teams – setting up Green for an impact game.

Sugar Skulls Rush Defense

Spokane would like to have a balanced offense, but depending on who is running the offense, the team might lean more rush heavy.

If a ground approach is utilized, the Shock will have to contend with a Sugar Skulls defense that allowed only one rushing yard in their win over the Gladiators last week.

On the season, Tucson has had a top-5 rush defense.

The Shock average the fifth-most rush yards in the IFL led by Davante Sapp-Lynch and his 37.8 yards a game. Sapp-Lynch has a 44-yard scamper, the longest in the IFL this season.

Rudd looking to make impact

After making his debut for the Shock last week, Keyvan Rudd hauled in a 25-yard touchdown for his only catch of the game.

Rudd still holds the league’s third spot in yards per game, just under 63 yards a game.

But with Sims at the helm, the Shock went with the ground and pound approach, running it 27 times and only attempting 12 passes.