Tucson Sugar Skulls

Tucson Sugar Skulls kick off season against Northern Arizona Wranglers at Prescott

Billy Back is the Tucson Sugar Skulls’ new head coach (Tucson Sugar Skulls photos)

The Sugar Skulls will kick off their 2024 season Saturday at 6:05 p..m. against the Northern Arizona Wranglers at Prescott Valley’s Findlay Toyota Center with new head coach Billy Back.

Back took over after former coach of the year honoree Hurtis Chinn resigned. Chinn is now the offensive coordinator of the Vegas Knight Hawks.

Back, who led the Frisco Fighters to the best record in the Indoor Football League the past two years, has managed to win five championships over 10 seasons as a head coach. 

Back will be joined by a coaching staff that includes Rayshaun Kizer as defensive coordinator and Mook Zimmerman as defensive line coach.

Some of the expected standouts include QB/RB Torrance Gibson, WR Mike Carrigan, and veteran RB Mike Jones, an IFL first-team selection at the halfback position. 

Former Nebraska Cornhuskers standout DL/LB Caleb Tannor has joined the Sugar Skulls for his rookie season in the IFL. 

Tannor appeared in 56 games with the Cornhuskers (tying a school record) from 2018-2022. As a senior, he posted a career-high 43 tackles in 2022 with 6.0 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two pass breakups, one fumble recovery, and six quarterback hurries in 11 starts. 

The Georgia native started all 12 games in 2021 as a junior, posting 33 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, and three pass breakups.

Tannor was tabbed as a four-star recruit by Rivals, ESPN, and 247Sports. Rivals listed him as the No. 26 linebacker prospect in the country, while he came in at No. 19 among defensive ends in the 247Sports Composite rankings

The rivalry with Northern Arizona includes the teams splitting their pair of meetings last season.

The Sugar Skulls won the last game 42-28 between the organizations last year at Prescott. The triumph helped Tucson snap a four-game losing streak to Northern Arizona.

Overall, the Sugar Skulls are 4-5 in their last nine games against the Wranglers and will seek to win back-to-back wins on the road against Northern Arizona for the first time. 

Tucson’s 9-7 season last year ended with a loss at the Bay Area Panthers in the first round of the playoffs.

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