On June 19th, the Pirates will hit the road to Arizona to take on the Tucson Sugar Skulls. The Sugar Skulls joined the IFL as an expansion team in 2019. They play their home games at the Tucson Convention Center. In the first season of operation, the team found success by making the playoffs with a 7-7 regular-season record. Unfortunately, they were defeated 50-47 by the eventual league champion Sioux Falls Storm in the first round of the playoffs.
Following the inaugural season, the Sugar Skulls parted ways with former head coach Marcus Coleman and hired Dixie Wooten to lead the team. Before joining the Sugar Skulls at the end of the 2019 season, Wooten had a 36-8 regular-season record in three seasons as head coach of the Iowa Barnstormers. He led his teams to the playoffs in all three years and won the 2018 United Bowl championship. It was the first league championship in Barnstormers franchise history. The success led Wooten to be named the IFL’s Coach of the Year in 2017 and 2018.
In October of 2020, the Sugar Skulls inked quarterback E.J. Hillard on the first day of unrestricted free agency. In his rookie year with the Quad City Steamwheelers, he led the IFL with 2,739 passing yards and 57 touchdowns, while only throwing three interceptions. His 187 passer rating was the best in the league. He added another 462 yards and 18 touchdowns rushing. His incredible rookie season earned him IFL Offensive Player of the Year honors.