Phoenix – The Arizona Rattlers (6-0) continue on their three-game road trip this week. After starting the stretch with a win over their in-state rivals, the Tucson Sugar Skulls, the Rattlers head west for their first ever visit to San Diego to play the San Diego Strike Force (1-6) on Monday night. This game marks the Rattlers first trip to California since the 2016 Arena Football League season when they played against the Los Angeles KISS.
This is the second meeting of the season between Arizona and San Diego. In their first game on April 6, the Rattlers set a franchise record in scoring as they defeated the Strike Force 91-58 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.
The Rattlers remained one of two undefeated teams in the Indoor Football League (IFL) last week, improving to 6-0 with a 55-41 victory against Tucson. It was the closest game the Rattlers have been in so far this season as they were tied with the Sugar Skulls at halftime before pulling away with a 27-point third quarter. QB Jeff Ziemba threw four touchdown passes in that game, giving him nine in his last two starts. RB Jabre Lolley also ran for two touchdowns, tying him for second in the IFL with 12 rushing touchdowns on the season.
The expansion Strike Force captured their first win in franchise history last week, defeating the Cedar Rapids River Kings 40-34 on Sunday at Pechanga Arena. San Diego’s passing offense continues to be the best in the league, recording 184.1 yards per game, which leads the IFL, and 24 passing touchdowns, which is second in the IFL. QB Jiha Vercher was 12-of-19 passing for 114 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over Cedar Rapids.
On defense, the Rattlers picked up two more interceptions on Sunday in Tucson, giving them a league-best 10 for the year. DB Davontae Merriweather and DB Phillip Henry are tied for second in the IFL with three interceptions each. Arizona continues to lead the IFL in passing defense, allowing only 127.2 passing yards per game. LB Ricky Wyatt Jr. also has 8.5 tackles for loss, which is second in the league.
For San Diego, their defense is anchored by LB Mikell Mair. Mair leads the team with 32 total tackles, has forced two fumbles and recovered one fumble. DL Terrence Fullum leads the Strike Force with 4.5 tackles for loss and one sack, while DB Omar Cook has six tackles per game and one interception.
Rattlers K Jimmy Camacho kicked five extra points in their last game against Tucson. Camacho has converted a league-best 50 point-after attempts, 12 more than the next closest kicker in the league.
Strike Force K Ernesto Lacayo played a big part in San Diego’s first win of the season. Lacayo kicked two field goals, including a 51-yard try, the second-longest successful field goal by an IFL kicker this year. Lacayo is the third-most accurate field goal kicker in the league at 44% and is the most accurate extra-point kicker among players with 10 or more attempts at 97%.
The Rattlers and the Strike Force square off on Monday night at Pechanga Arena in San Diego at 7:05 p.m. AZT. The game can be seen live on YouTube.