Sugar Skulls look to bounce back after disappointing home opener


SugarSkulls.Barnstormers.06052021.016
The Tucson Sugar Skulls are coming off a disappointing 33-13 loss in their home opener against the Iowa Barnstormers last Saturday at the Tucson Convention Center (Tucson Sugar Skulls/Darryl Webb)

Sugar Skulls rookie quarterback Demry Croft was named IFL Offensive Player of the Week two weeks ago after contributing a combined six touchdowns through the air and on the ground against the Duke City Gladiators. Last Saturday in Tucson’s home opener, Croft threw two interceptions, was sacked three times, and never found the end zone in a frustrating 33-13 loss against the Iowa Barnstormers.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Croft and The Sugar Skulls look to bounce back in Saturday’s game in Phoenix against perennial powerhouse, the Arizona Rattlers (2-1).

The Tucson Sugar Skulls (1-2) play at 5:10 p.m. in Phoenix against the Rattlers, who are coming off a 41-34 victory at Green Bay last week. The Rattlers, coached by Tucson’s co-owner Kevin Guy, went 4-0 against Tucson in the Sugar Skulls’ inaugural season in 2019.

Last week’s drubbing at the hands of the Barnstormers can’t be squarely put on Croft’s shoulders, but as a leader of the Sugar Skulls’ offensive attack he will undoubtedly have to rethink his approach to the indoor game.

According to head coach Dixie Wooten, Croft and the team are handling the adversity that comes with a devastating loss like professionals.

“He (Croft) handled it good,” said Wooten. “At the end of the day, we’re athletes, and it’s not our first time to ever lose a ball game.”

Wooten went on to explain that practice has been productive this week and pinpointed the areas that the Sugar Skulls have been working on improving going into today’s game against the Rattlers.

“Executing in the red zone and goal line areas, making sure that we make Arizona beat us in the passing game, and making sure that we finish the ball game,” Wooten said.

Not being able to finish games after having the lead or a tie at halftime has been a recurring theme in Tucson’s two losses of the early season. The Sugar Skulls were ahead 28-20 at half against Green Bay before eventually losing 42-36, and Tucson was tied at 13-13 at the break last week against Iowa, before being outscored 20-0 in the second half.

If practices this week are any indicator of how the Sugar Skulls will play Saturday, fans can expect an improved team effort across the board.

“Practice has been perfect,” Wooten said. “It’s probably been three of the best practices we’ve had all year. These guys have gotten to know each other, they’re trying to understand what they’re capable of, and they are starting to play like a team.

“So you know, the more games we play, the better we get.”

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood.  He is currently attending Pima Community College where he writes for the Aztec Press. Next semester he will be attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he will work towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.