Rattlers attempt to knock off 6-time defending champs in IFL title game

July 6, 2017

PHOENIX -- More than four months ago, the Arizona Rattlers took to the field for the first time as an Indoor Football League franchise against the league's reigning bullies, the six-time defending IFL champion Sioux Falls Storm.

The Storm taught the new kids on the IFL block a thing or two, defeating the Rattlers 40-29 back on Feb. 17.

On Saturday, the two teams meet again with much more at stake. The Storm will be trying to claim their seventh consecutive league title, while the Rattlers will be trying to add their first IFL trophy to the five championships they won while competing in the Arena Football League.

Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. (Arizona time). The game will be streamed on YouTube.

The Storm will be host team for the United Bowl by virtue of their 15-2 record and 66-32 win over Iowa in the United Conference championship game. The Rattlers, who defeated Nebraska 62-36 in the Intense Conference championship game, are 13-4. They come into the United Bowl with nine consecutive victories.

The Rattlers are a much different team than the one that ventured to Sioux Falls in February. They had no experience playing together, and the coaching staff was adjusting to a different set of rules from the Arena Football League. Despite the unfamiliar circumstances, they took a lead into the fourth quarter before the Storm rallied for the victory.

"It does not matter how you start, it is how you finish," Rattlers head coach Kevin Guy said. "We were 4-4 in the first half of the season and now we are in a position to play for a championship.

"You have to give the players all the credit. They have been buying in all year long."

The Rattlers seem to be peaking at the right time. Cody Sokol  completed 13 of 18 passes for 110 yards passing and Ketrich Harmon ran for 60 yards on 11 carries in the conference championship game. Harmon complements Darrell Monroe, who leads the Indoor Football League with  721 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per carry, They run behind a line that features two All-Indoor Football league linemen -- Lamar Mady and Damian Love.

The Rattlers defense had two sacks and two interceptions in the conference championship game. All-IFL defensive back Allen Chapman has a team-high eight interceptions, and All-IFL lineman Chris McAllister has 10 sacks.

The Storm finished the regular season with the league's stingiest defense, holding their opponents to an average of 29.2 points per game. They forced four Iowa turnovers in the United Conference title game. Their defensive leader is linebacker Tyler Knight, who finished the regular season with 11.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two blocked kicks and two interceptions.

Sioux Falls quarterback Lorenzo Brown completed 12 of 17 passes for 175 yards and four touchdowns in the conference championship game.

"This kind of game is going to be about the two T's -- turnovers and tackling," Guy said. "We gotta be able to do both. We've got to be able to not turn the ball over on offense and create turnovers on defense, and we've got to tackle on defense and special teams. If we do that we should be in the ball game and have a chance to win."

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