100 Days Until Kickoff 2013

“Firecracker” Jeremiah Harris Helps Spark Tucson Sugar Skulls to End 4-Game Losing Streak

Beating the same team again only five days later on the road will be no small task, even if the Tucson Sugar Skulls are 3-0 against the San Diego Strike Force this season.

Tucson newcomer Jeremiah Harris is no small task either for San Diego even though he is one of the most diminutive guys in the Indoor Football League at 5-7 and 150 pounds.

The Sugar Skulls (4-5) play at San Diego (1-8) on Thursday after beating the Strike Force 54-34 and snapping a four-game losing streak on Saturday night at the Tucson Arena.

They should be charged for the quick turnaround at San Diego with a “firecracker” like Harris, an ultraquick runner with elusive moves who was available this week after his release from the Arena Football League’s Orlando Predators.

“Even though he’s small, he’s a little firecracker,” Tucson coach Marcus Coleman said of Harris, who hails from Orlando, Fla., and played at the highest level of high school football there — Class 8A at Dr. Phillips High School — before playing at Webber International in Orlando.

“You can tell he’s explosive and shifty, and in the return game, we expected him to make big plays and he did.”

Tucson quarterback Jake Medlock, who passed for four touchdowns and ran for two others on Saturday night, is a Florida native like Harris. He knows what talent that state can produce.

“You know, he’s a Florida boy, and us Florida boys stay together,” said Medlock, who is from Jacksonville and played three years at Division I program Florida International.

“I’m not going to lie. When he first got here, I was like, ‘Ah man, here we go … another short guy.’ He grabbed that first (kickoff) in practice the other day. I was like, ‘Oh, this is different.’ He told me he was from Dr. Phillips. I told him, ‘I take back everything. I apologize.’ Just seeing him run is amazing. He is so fast.”

Harris did not make the end zone, but he had returns of 39, 32 and 34 yards that brought the 4,075 fans in attendance at Tucson Arena to its feet.

“Just doing my part, you know?” Harris said. “When I do my part, they (his teammates) celebrate. That’s how you gain respect from your teammates. You make them feel like you’re not a waste of time.”

The timing of Harris’ acquisition is in fact very valuable to help give the Sugar Skulls a jolt toward making the playoffs.

With only five regular season games remaining, Tucson is one game ahead of Quad City (3-6) for the sixth and final playoff spot. The 14-game season can be a grind, especially when some of the travel is done by bus, which the Sugar Skulls will do Wednesday to San Diego.

Coleman said the biggest challenge of playing the Strike Force again in only five days is “the time frame that you have in between.”

“The guys get tomorrow (Sunday) off and (they practice) Monday, Tuesday and you’re on the bus Wednesday. That’s really the hardest part but that’s pro ball at every level.”

Former Tucson High lineman Antonio Rosales with two of his longtime close family friends Jaime and Sara Veramontes (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Coleman added that managing the roster and making sure the players are healthy enough and ready to play after a short break is another challenge.

Medlock did not play after the midway point of the third quarter after suffering an ankle sprain while holding a point-after attempt for placekicker Josh Gable.

Medlock completed 14 of 20 passes for 90 yards with four touchdowns (three of them to receiver Rico Brown) and an interception. He also rushed for two touchdowns. Backup Matt Behrendt was effective completing 8 of 12 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown.

“Matt made some throws and picked up first downs when we needed to at the end,” said Coleman, who said he expects Medlock to be ready to play Thursday. “(Behrendt) kept us on the field. I thought he did good for the time he was in.”

BONE SCRAPS: Former Santa Rita High School standout DB Cam Gaddis had an interception, his team-best third of the season. Gaddis did not play last week because of a coach’s decision. … Former Tucson High OL Antonio Rosales is on “short-term” injured reserve because of an unspecified injury and did not suit up. He said he is not sure if he will play Thursday. … Recently acquired DB Kasey Johnson led the Sugar Skulls with seven tackles including one tackle for a loss. Johnson was playing for the Omaha Beef of the Champions Indoor League. … WR Shaq Curenton stretched his team lead in touchdown catches with a TD catch from Medlock in the second quarter. He now has 11.


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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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