Rivalry continues between Rattlers, Storm in 2019 United Bowl
Only twice before in the history of the IFL has a team completed a totally perfect season.
The team to do it? The Sioux Falls Storm.
That’s who the Arizona Rattlers (15-0) will face in the 2019 United Bowl for the chance to become the third team in IFL history to complete the feat. No AFL team has ever completed a totally undefeated season.
If the Rattlers come out on top, it will be their second IFL championship in the three years of their existence in the league and seventh championship in franchise history as the team has won five titles during their time in the AFL.
If Arizona can pull it off Saturday, it will be a stunning display of dominance.
“It’s very impressive,” IFL commissioner Mike Allshouse said. “Any time you win a championship in any league, let alone making the transition from a completely different style and set of rules. I know there was an adjustment period they went through the first year.”
The Rattlers were still able to raise the championship trophy despite it being an adjustment year.
This time around, it won’t come easy. The Storm are 11-3 on the season and played in the United Bowl last season after beating the Rattlers 69-68 in a wild overtime contest. Sioux Falls faced the Iowa Barnstorms for the championship but fell, 42-38. To beat the Rattlers in a championship game is something the Storm haven’t done before.
And now Sioux Falls have a new, and perhaps more dangerous, Rattlers quarterback to slow down in former IFL MVP Drew Powell.
“He’s really good,” Storm head coach Kurtiss Riggs said sternly and sarcastically of Powell. “Last year he had a tremendous season. Every game he was good. There’s very few flaws in his game and he does a very good job of leading the offense.
“We’re obviously not excited that he went to Arizona.”
Powell signed with the Rattlers halfway through this IFL season after being released from the Atlanta City Blackjacks of the AFL.
But Arizona may not be the most potent offense on the field. Slowing down the Storm’s offense will be one of the Rattlers defense’s biggest tests in Saturday’s game, as Sioux Falls is the only group that gains first downs better than Arizona.
“We just got to come out and know our alignments and techniques and do our job,” Rattlers defensive back Allen Chapman said.
Sioux Falls are also the only team to convert third downs better than the Rattlers as well, posting a 56% clip while the Rattlers check in at 53%.
The Storm’s ability to move the ball is hinged on their one-two punch at quarterback. Lorenzo Brown not only threw for the third-most yards per game in the league this season, but also ran for the sixth-most as well with 38.9 yards a contest.
The Rattlers might be able to hold them in check through the air, as they allow the fewest passing yards a game in the IFL with 134.5.
But the Storm face a more favorable matchup on the ground, as Arizona’s rush defense ranks just below average at sixth in the league.
“We just have to be disciplined and we should be good,” Rattlers defensive lineman Nikolaus D’Avanzosaid said on stopping the Storm’s rushing attack. “We practiced the whole week and I feel like we had a pretty good practice.”
Saturday will represent the next chapter in a budding rivalry between the two teams. One that, according to Riggs, has his players excited.
“When you play Arizona, you don’t have to motivate [the players],” he said.
For Rattlers coach Kevin Guy, the message to his team is brief.
“Win,” he said. “It’s pretty simple.”