As Rattler fans are getting excited to see their team perform in a new league for the first time this Friday there are many things to watch for, but the biggest one of all is how the best team in the Arena Football League (AFL) arguably all-time will perform against the six time defending champions in their first game in the Indoor Football League (IFL). This young Rattlers team with only five returning players from last year’s roster will face their biggest test in just week one of their inaugural IFL season when they face off against the Sioux Falls Storm on Friday. If the Rattlers can pull of a victory against easily their most fierce competition in the league to start off the season it would be a great confidence boost for a new young team to perhaps propel them to a successful season right from the start.
WANTED: NEW HEADS OF SNAKE
The biggest position change for the Rattlers going into this new season will be at the quarterback position. For the previous six seasons this position was held by famous Rattlers quarterback and now assistant coach Nick Davila. With him behind center, the Rattlers had much success including three straight Arena Bowl Championships. Now a new man must take his place under center and lead a young Rattlers offense against a Sioux Falls defense who sacked opponents quarterbacks 29 times last season. Whether it is Darron Thomas, Cody Sokol or John Wolf who is asked to fill Davila’s shoes, it will definitely be no small task. This will be something to watch for not only this week but as the weeks progress as well to see how the Rattlers successfully replace one of the best quarterbacks in Arizona Rattler’s history.
SHOOT OUT IN SIOUX FALLS?
Watch for these two prolific offenses to light up the scoreboard early and often. The Rattlers finished their 2016 campaign leading the AFL with 66.6 points per game. Their IFL counterpart finished 2016 second in their league with 59.4 points per game. The Rattlers lit it up through the air in 2016 throwing for a team total of 114 touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Storm dominated teams in the run game, leading the IFL with a total of 64 rushing touchdowns. Do not be surprised if whoever possesses the ball last, comes out with the win.
At the conclusion of the 2016 season, the Rattlers led the AFL in 7 defensive categories, including: sacks, tackles for loss and fumble recoveries. Although the Rattlers roster underwent a complete makeover, returning defensive stars Allan Chapman, Chris McAllister and Arkeith Brown provide the confidence and leadership needed to anchor a championship defense. The Storm’s defense held opposing teams to 69.8 rushing yards last season, and finished third in total interceptions. Both these defenses play hard-nosed football and look to create turnovers. Watch for playmakers on defense to provide big plays for their teams.
THE CHASE FOR THE UNITED BOWL TROPHY BEGINS
On Friday February 17th, two storied franchises, the Arizona Rattlers, (formerly of the AFL) and the Sioux Falls Storm clash for the first time in the Rattlers inaugural IFL game. These two teams combine for a total of 15 championships. The Rattlers finished their tenor in the AFL with a championship game appearance against the Philadelphia Soul. The Storm enter the 2017 season with six consecutive IFL championships. Expect the Rattlers coming into this game with a chip on their shoulder after the way they finished the 2016 season with an AFL championship game loss. The season opener looks like an exciting one solidifying the Rattlers move to the IFL, and potentially setting the tone for the season.
The game can be seen HERE.