Mass Pirates Release 2021 Schedule

By: Oliver Nissi
Pirates Insider
November 17, 2020

WORCESTER, MA. — As the team gets ready for its first year in a new league, the Massachusetts Pirates now know the exact details of their schedule for next season.

The Pirates will play 16 games in a 17 week regular season, with a bye week coming in Week 3. They’ll host just 3 home games in the first 9 weeks of the season, but will play 5 games at home from weeks 10 through 16 at their home arena, the DCU Center. The IFL will consist of twelve teams for the 2021 season and Massachusetts plays each team at least once.

The Pirates will kick off their inaugural IFL season on the road. They’ll play their first game of the 2021 season against the Bismarck Bucks on Friday, April 2nd at 7:05 PM/CT. The game will be held at the Bismarck Event Center in Bismarck, North Dakota. The trip to Bismarck marks the longest distance the Pirates will travel for a game in their three-year history as an organization.

The Bucks are entering their second season in the IFL. They finished the 2019 campaign with a 2-12 record. Pirates defensive coordinator and secondary coach Rayshaun Kizer will face-off against the team that helped launch his coaching career. The Bucks are the only active IFL team to have played a game in the 2020 cancelled season.

The Pirates will then play their home opener at the DCU Center against the Iowa Barnstormers on Saturday, April 10th at 7:05 PM/ET. This will be the first Pirates home game in a 624 day stretch, dating back to July 2019. The matchup against Iowa will be the Pirates only home game in April.

The Barnstormers finished the 2019 season with a 12-2 regular season record, but lost in the second round of the playoffs. Iowa is coached by Ameer Ismail, who was the Pirates head coach in their first season and won the 2018 NAL Coach of the Year award with the team. The Barnstormers have also re-signed quarterback Daquan Neal, the 2019 IFL MVP.

The Pirates hit their bye week in Week 3. They will have 13 days off until their next contest. After that, they will embark on a long stretch and play in 14 consecutive weeks.

Their first matchup out of the bye will be against the Louisville Xtreme in Week 4. The game will be played at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday, April 24th at 7:05 PM/ET. The Xtreme are the newest team to join the IFL, as they announced their move to the league earlier this month.

In Week 5, the Pirates will host the defending IFL champions in the Sioux Falls Storm. The game will be played on Saturday, May 1st at 7:05 PM/ET at the DCU Center.

Sioux Falls celebrated on the field after being crowned United Bowl champions in July 2019.

The Storm are the winningest team in IFL history, having won 7 of the 11 United Bowls, which is the name of the IFL championship game. They are also the only remaining team from the league’s inaugural season in 2009.

Massachusetts will then hit the road for two straight contests away from home. In Week 6, they square off against the Barnstormers again, this time at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday, May 8th at 7:05 PM/CT.

Eight days later, the Pirates will play their fourth road game of the season against the Northern Arizona Wranglers. It will be the first of three matchups against IFL teams based out of Arizona.

The Wranglers were established in October 2020 as an expansion team and will play their first season in 2021. This game will be held at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona on Sunday, May 16th at 3:05 PM/MT.

The first half of the season wraps up at home in a tilt against the Duke CIty Gladiators. Like the Pirates, the Gladiators will play their first season in a new league after having success in their former league. In their previous two seasons, Duke City went 24-5 and won two league titles. The game is set for Saturday, May 22nd at 7:05 PM/ET at the DCU Center.

In Week 9, the Pirates will make their second trip to the Grand Canyon State in two weeks for a matchup against the Tucson Sugar Skulls. The game will be the Pirates’ fifth in the month of May and will be held on Sunday, May 30th at 3:05 PM/MT at the Tucson Arena in Tucson, Arizona.

The Sugar Skulls have just one season under their belt as an organization, which came in 2019 in the IFL. They finished that season with a 7-7 record and made the playoffs as a six-seed.

Tucson is coached by Dixie Wooten, who is a two-time IFL coach of the year
(2017-18) and won the 2018 United Bowl as head coach of the Barnstormers.

The Pirates then play the Arizona Rattlers for their fourth home game of the year in Week 10. The Rattlers finished 2019 with just one loss and as the league runner-up, losing to Sioux Falls in the United Bowl by just three points.

The game against the Rattlers is scheduled for Sunday, June 6th at 3:05 PM/ET at the DCU Center. This game will be Massachusetts’ first Sunday home game since 2018 and the only Sunday home game of the season.

Week 11 calls for the first back-to-back home matchup of the season for Massachusetts, as they’ll welcome the Frisco Fighters to the DCU Center on Saturday, June 12th at 7:05 PM/ET.

The Fighters are another IFL expansion team that were introduced in November 2019. They have yet to play a game as a franchise and are Texas’ sole IFL team.

The Pirates will make their third and final trip to the Midwest in a Week 12 matchup against the Green Bay Blizzard. The game is set to be played at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Friday, June 18th at 7:05 PM/CT.

The Blizzard finished last season with a 9-5 record, good for a postseason berth and the organization’s most wins since 2012. They are the second oldest IFL team, as they joined the league in its second season in 2010.

Massachusetts returns home the next week, as the Pirates will play their third game at home in a four week span against the Spokane Shock on Saturday, June 26th at 7:05 PM/ET at the DCU Center.

Like Green Bay, Spokane has a rich history of professional indoor football. The team, however, has not played a game in over three years after having spent 12 consecutive seasons on the turf (2006-17).

The Pirates final four matchups of the 2021 regular season will be against teams they will have already played. In Week 14, they’ll travel to Frisco to square off against the Fighters for the second time in a three week span. The game is set for Friday, July 2nd at 7:05 PM/CT and will be played at the Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas.

Frisco is coached by Clint Dolezel, who won two championships in the
Arena Football League as a head coach. He was also inducted into the
league’s hall of fame as a player. 

Following their trip to the Lone Star State, the Pirates will return home for their second set of back-to-back home games at the DCU Center in 2021. Their Week 15 matchup will be against the Bismarck Bucks on Saturday, July 10th at 7:05 PM/ET. In Week 16, they’ll host the Louisville Xtreme on Saturday, July 17th at 7:05 PM/ET. The game against the Xtreme will be Massachusetts’ final home game of the season, barring a playoff game.

The Pirates hit the road in the last week of the regular season for their only matchup in the Pacific Time Zone. They’ll play the Spokane Shock on Thursday, July 22nd at 7:05 PM/PT. The game will be held at Spokane Arena in Spokane, Washington.

This contest will be another homecoming for a member of the Pirates, as edge rusher J.D. Griggs returns to Spokane. Griggs led the IFL in sacks during the 2017 season as a member of the Shock. He joined Massachusetts the following year for their inaugural season.

If the Pirates qualify for the postseason, they will need to finish with one of the eight best records in the final regular season standings. Their first playoff matchup would be played on Friday, July 30th at the earliest.

Massachusetts Pirates Founder and President Jawad Yatim spoke with about the 2021 IFL schedule release. He is gearing up for next season and has been waiting for this day for some time.

“It’s refreshing to get the schedule out to the public and to continue our preparation for the upcoming season. I can’t express how anxious and excited we are to be able to fully lock in on our various opponents and begin to truly visualize the season. I think we have a very competitive schedule, a lot of travel of course but we’ll be well prepared to handle all the different obstacles that come with executing a full season of play. They’ll be more exciting news on the horizon so make sure to stay tuned.”

Some Pirates coaches also weighed in on the schedule release. Newly signed offensive coordinator Chris Thompson believes Pirates fans are in for a special season.

“April 2nd can’t get here fast enough and it looks like a balanced home and away schedule, with more away games in the first half than the second half of the season. I’m looking forward to all the games. The level of talent and competition week in and week out is going to be outstanding for the fans to watch.”

Pirates defensive coordinator and secondary coach Rayshaun Kizer has his eyes set on the team’s first contest.

“I’m very excited about the 2021 schedule for the Pirates. We have the opportunity to play every team in the league at least one time next season, which is a great thing for our coaching staff and players. I’m even more excited to open up the season at Bismarck, my former team I coached in 2019. It should be a fun, exciting and very competitive game to start the season.”

The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email or visit Single-game tickets are available online at or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard