Matchup: Arizona Rattlers (3-10) at Iowa Barnstormers (10-3)
Arena: Wells Fargo Arena (15,110)
Location: Des Moines, IA
Kickoff: 7:05 p.m. CT
TV: Mediacom Channel 22
TV Commentators: Larry Morgan (PxP) and Brent Bruns (Color)
Radio: 1040am WHO
Radio Commentators: Joe Stasi (PxP) and Larry Cotlar (Color)
Iowa Barnstormers play for Home-Field Advantage
When the 3-10 Cedar Rapids Titans come into Wells Fargo Arena this Saturday, the Iowa Barnstormers will be playing one of their biggest games in franchise history.
With a victory, and also a win from the Arizona Rattlers, the road to the 2018 United Bowl will go through Des Moines, IA.
The team would be slated to host its first championship game since the 1996 ArenaBowl, where Kurt Warner fluttered in the final minute to lose to the Tampa Bay Storm.
The high stakes have Barnstormer players treating this game like it’s a championship game.
“It’s been high energy,” quarterback Drew Powell said. “It’s been championship week since we played Arizona [at home].”
That’s normal, though.
This team has been treating every game like the opponents across from them are the defending champions.
“For about five weeks now, we’ve considered it championship week,” Powell said. “We’ve been going into every week like its the last game of the season. Win or go home. That’s how we’re going to treat this one as well.”
As the standings sit with one week left in the season, the Barnstormers, Arizona Rattlers, and Sioux Falls Storm are all tied atop the Indoor Football League (IFL) standings with 10-3 records.
Indoor Football League Standings
1. Iowa 10-3
2. Arizona 10-3
3. Sioux Falls 10-3
4. Nebraska 4-9
5. Cedar Rapids 3-10
6. Green Bay 2-11
Each team is in action on Saturday facing opponents that are well below .500 which is likely to set up a three-way tie at the top.
That would give Iowa the first seed in the playoffs, based on the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker.
However, all Iowa is worried about this week is their matchup with so-called rival Cedar Rapids.
Iowa has won the last five games against Cedar Rapids by an average of 18 points. It isn’t usually a close game.
Though the last time these two teams met, it got chippy.
On top of an in-game ejection and multiple warnings, head coach Dixie Wooten had to separate a bit of a fight on the field.
“I dont think you can keep [the chippy play] away when you have a rivalry game and with what we have on the line this week,” Wooten said. “Our guys are going to get after it. It’s going to be [a good] game.”
Barnstormer players, too, will be trying harder than ever to make sure they don’t do anything that warrants an ejection.
Per the IFL rules, if a player is ejected from during a game, they will be ruled ineligible for the following game as well. In this case, that would be a playoff game for the team.
“Walk away,” defensive lineman B.J. Butler said. “The best thing you can do there is to walk away, play with your pads and play in between the whistles.”
The player ejected from the last meeting was none other than standout-Cedar Rapids Titan Jake Medlock.
Over the course of the season, Medlock has played exceptionally, leading the IFL in both passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Some players in the league have even gone so far as to say they think Medlock could win the MVP award, despite playing for a 3-10 team.
“He’s pretty good,” counterpart and fellow potential MVP candidate Powell said. “He’s actually a really good quarterback in this league. He’s a real good quarterback. He’s really accurate, and then he gets fired up and gets his guys behind them.”
Medlock will try to get his team fired up for the final time this season when the Titans come to town this Saturday. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m.
“[We’re going to play] balls to the wall, Butler said. “We’ve got a great game plan for them. As long as we come out and execute, and do our job in all three phases, then we’re going to kick some butt.”
Fans can listen to the game on WHO 1040 AM radio with Joe Stasi (PxP) and Larry Cotlar (Color) or watch on TV on Mediacom Connections Channel 22 with Larry Morgan (PxP) and Brent Bruns (Color).