2017 United Bowl Game Preview

2017 United Bowl Game Preview

Phoenix, Ariz. - The Intense Conference Champion Arizona Rattlers will travel to South Dakota in an attempt to overthrow the current reigning six-time United Bowl Champion Sioux Falls Storm. The Storm, however, plan to hold on to the crown for at least one more season.

The 2017 United Bowl will feature two storied franchises meeting on the Indoor Football League's (IFL) biggest stage. Each organization comes from a history of championships. The Sioux Falls Storm was established in 2000.  Since then, the team has accrued ten league championships, six of which are from the IFL while the rest were separated between the National Indoor Football League and the United Indoor Football League. On the flip side, the Rattlers began in 1992, and before they left the Arena Football League (AFL) for the IFL, Arizona was the third oldest active franchise in the league. Prior to entering the IFL this season, the Rattlers competed in ten championships, winning five, Including a three straight from 2012-2014.

The last time that these two teams played it was the inaugural game of the 2017 regular season, also played in South Dakota. Arizona entered the game as a young squad going against a team that knew this league better than anyone the past six seasons. Despite the Rattlers having a lead late in the fourth, Sioux Falls would end up winning that game 40-29. Their quarterback Lorenzo Brown went five-for-eleven and 59-yards. Sioux Falls had four rushing touchdowns that game, by four different players. 

Eighteen weeks later, the Rattlers defeated the Nebraska Danger by a score of 62-36 to become the Intense Conference Champions. The Sioux Falls Storm also took care of business, beating the Iowa Barnstormers 66-32 earlier that day to become United Conference Champions. 

The Rattlers seem to be peaking at the right time.  Offensively against the Danger, quarterback Cody Sokol went 13-for-18 with 110 yards passing and Ketrich Harmon had 60 yards on 11 carries. The team's overall leading rusher Darrell Monroe is ranked first in the Indoor Football League with  721 yards and 18 touchdowns, while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He was also recently honored with a selection to the 2017 All-IFL First Team. Monroe was aided by offensive lineman Lamar Mady and center Damian Love who were also each selected to the 2017 All-IFL Team.  Arizona's offensive unit finished the regular season ranked second in total offense.

The Rattlers defense also held up strong, only allowing Nebraska to score 36 points in the championship, while amassing two sacks and two interceptions. Defensive back Allen Chapman and D-lineman Chris McAllister were also chosen to the 2017 All-IFL first team. Chapman had eight interceptions, 14 pass break ups, and 56 tackles while McAllister had 10 sacks on the season. The Rattlers had the number three scoring defense in the IFL.

Arizona is ranked number one in kickoff coverage. Kicker Sawyer Petre had a career year, ranking first in point after touchdowns (PATs) made, PATs kicking percentage, and field goal percentage. Petre was also selected to the 2017 All-IFL team.  Jamal Miles is tied for second in kickoff return touchdowns with two, and is ranked third among all return men in kickoff return yards.

Sioux Falls enters this game coming off of a statement victory over the Iowa Barnstormers in the United Conference, defeating them by a score of 66-32. Their quarterback Lorenzo Brown went 12 of 17 passing with 175 yards and four touchdowns through the air, he also ran for a score. Lorenzo is also the team's offensive leader in both rushing and passing. Their top receiver is Mike Tatum, who averages 11.1 yards per reception.  Sioux Falls finished the regular season with the third best scoring offense in the league, averaging 48.1 points per game.

The Storm also finished the regular season with the number one defense in the league, holding their opponents to an average of 29.2 points per 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. He also ranked second among all defensive IFL players in tackles. Knight was selected to the 2017 All-IFL team. In the championship game against the Barnstormers, Sioux Falls caused Iowa's offense to turn the ball over four different times in the course of the game.

On special teams, Storm kicker Justin Syrovatka finished the regular season with a 50 percent success rate on field goals. He ranked third among all kickers in scoring this season.  Their return man is wide receiver Korey Williams who averaged 17 yards per return.

It all comes down to this.  The Intense Conference Champion Arizona Rattlers and six-time defending IFL Champion Sioux Falls Storm will go toe-to-toe on July 8th to see who becomes the 2017 United Bowl Champion. Game time is at 3:05 p.m. PDT and can be seen live on YouTube.