The Tucson Sugar Skulls won back-to-back games for the first time in the Dixie Wooten era after beating the Northern Arizona Wranglers 48-46 in triple overtime last Saturday.
Tucson has found late-season success and kept its playoff hopes alive due in part to recently signed quarterback Cory Murphy but will have their hands full as they head up north to Phoenix and take on their in-state rival.
The Sugar Skulls (4-7) play today against the Arizona Rattlers (9-2) at the Footprint Center in Phoenix. Kickoff is at 3:05 p.m.
The Sugar Skulls need to win two out of its three remaining games to have a chance at reaching the playoffs. So while today’s game against the Rattlers – who beat Tucson in the two previous matchups this season – isn’t a must-win for the Sugar Skulls, a win significantly increases their chances for a postseason berth.
Wooten understands the challenge at hand as he takes on the Rattlers, a perennial powerhouse in indoor football. He also profoundly respects Arizona’s coach Kevin Guy, who Wooten battled against in his days at the helm for Iowa, and also happens to be the co-owner of the Sugar Skulls.
“He’s (Guy) super competitive,” Wooten said. “One thing that people don’t understand is he brought me here because I was one of the coaches he never beat to this point. So he wanted his team to always be competitive with the Rattlers; that’s why he made a decision to hire me here in Tucson.
“That lets you know how competitive he is, he always wants to be in a contest with great coaches, and his record speaks for itself.”
For Wooten, the keys to beating the Rattlers for the first time as head coach of the Sugar Skulls come down to not giving the ball up and scoring touchdowns on every drive.
“We need to be able to march down the field and take care of the football,” Wooten said. “We don’t need any turnovers against these guys because what they do when you turn the ball over is they capitalize on your mistakes. So we gotta make sure we get in their red zone and score touchdowns; we dont need field goals, we need to score touchdowns every drive, but the most important thing is taking care of the football.”
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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.