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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Shock to square off with Sugar Skulls for first time in team history

UPDATED: Fri., July 16, 2021

Spokane Shock WR Jordan Jolly hauls in a pass for a touchdown over Northern Arizona Wranglers DB Kalen Hicks in the first quarter June 19 in the Arena.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Spokane Shock WR Jordan Jolly hauls in a pass for a touchdown over Northern Arizona Wranglers DB Kalen Hicks in the first quarter June 19 in the Arena. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Justin Reed The Spokesman-Review

A win over Sioux Falls last week kept the Spokane Shock in prime position to host a first-round playoff game.

It also kept them within a game of a first-round bye.

The Shock (5-2) used a defensive second half to sweep the season series over the Sioux Falls Storm. Spokane gave up 12 points in the second half to win 46-35.

The Shock will face the Tucson Sugar Skulls for the first time in team history at 6:05 p.m. Saturday at the Spokane Arena.

The Sugar Skulls (2-6) grabbed a one-point win over the Duke City Gladiators, their first win in six tries, ending a rough skid that included two losses by less than four points.

The Indoor Football Game of the week will be televised on KSKN, channel 22.

Quarterback quandary

Another week, another quarterback question mark.

Luckily for the Shock, they now have two confirmed quarterbacks who can win a contest.

More healing was needed for starter Charles McCullum last week, who was still nursing a bum ankle. It is still unknown if McCullum will be under center tonight, but if he isn’t, backup Blake Sims is ready to step up again.

With a game under his belt – Sims’ first in 6½ years – the 30-year-old rookie will be prepared to face the Sugar Skulls.

Sims threw for only 87 yards but directed six touchdown drives – three of which he finished off for rushing touchdowns.

But McCullum will want to return soon, considering he is still 185 yards short of the IFL all-time career passing record.

Kicker Petre takes weekly award

The Shock have arguably the best kicker in the league in Sawyer Petre, who leads the league in field-goal percentage (.563).

Petre was voted as the IFL Special Teams Player of the Week after nailing three field goals – one from 44 yards to end the half – five extra-point attempts and a late two-point rouge to help seal the game.

He also pinned the Storm deep in their end zone on multiple kickoffs.

Defensive specialist

The Shock boast the league’s third-ranked scoring defense, giving up just over 35 points a game.

Mike Green leads the league with 62 tackles, all from the defensive back position.

Against Sioux Falls, Green racked up 12 tackles, including a tackle for a loss on a key 2-point conversion for the Storm after they pulled within two with 5 minutes left in regulation.

The sixth-year pro will certainly line up against wideout Ryan Balentine, who averages 46.9 yards a game, eighth best in the league.

The Sugar Skulls lean more toward the pass – their top-four passing offense has thrown more passes than eight other teams .

Hoping to run

Spokane would like to have a balanced offense, but depending on who is running the offense, the team might lean on the rush.

If they go to the ground approach , the Shock will have to contend with a Sugar Skulls defense that allowed only 1 rushing yard in the win over the Gladiators last week.

On the season, Tucson has had a top-five rush defense.

The Shock average the fifth-most rushing yards in the IFL, led by Davante Sapp-Lynch and his 37.8 yards a game.

Sapp-Lynch has a 44-yard scamper, the longest in the IFL this season.

Rudd looks to make impact

After making his debut for the Shock last week, Keyvan Rudd hauled in a 25-yard touchdown for his only catch of the game.

Rudd still holds the league’s No. 3 spot in yards per game, just under 63 yards a game.

But with Sims at the helm, the Shock went with the ground approach, running it 27 times and only attempting 12 passes.

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