The Nebraska Danger returns home for the first time since April 25 when it hosts the Colorado Ice Thursday night at the Heartland Events Center.
The Danger won three straight road games — including last weekend at Green Bay — during that stretch to improve to 9-2 overall. That run has clinched a playoff berth for the Danger and put it on the verge of clinching the Intense Conference title and a home playoff game for the second year in a row.
A win over the Ice (7-3) would give the Danger a two-game advantage with just two games left in the regular season.
The two teams met on March 30 in Colorado with the Ice taking a 38-30 win over a Danger team that played without starting quarterback Jameel Sewell and starting running back Troy Evans who were out with injuries.
That means if the Danger win by nine or more points, it will clinch the division title.
“A win is a win, it doesn’t matter by how much,” Danger coach Mike Davis said.
The Danger-Ice rivalry has developed into one of the best in the IFL. The two teams played four times last year with the Danger winning three of them, including a 55-50 win in the first round of the playoffs and a 69-66 victory during the regular season on a 34-yeard Joe Houston field goal on the last play of the game.
“It’s always a rivalry,” Davis said. “It’s for first place in the division. That adds a little pressure to it. If we take care of business, we can play with anybody in the league.”
It certainly helps having Sewell back. The 2013 league MVP has been on a tear during the Danger’s current five-game winning streak.
During that time, he has accounted for 29 touchdowns (13 rushing and 16 passing). He’s averaged 190.6 yards per game passing and 55.4 rushing in those five games and has thrown just one interception.
“I think we’ve played pretty well recently,” Davis said of his team’s winning streak. “We are mostly healthy on offense and have made some big plays on defense, but I think our guys would tell you we still haven’t played our best game yet. We can get better.”
The Danger defense has also played well most of the season. The team leads the league in yards allowed (210.3/game), sacks (29) and defensive touchdowns (six). It is second in interceptions with 12 on the season.
Linebacker Pig Brown and defensive linemen Claude Wroten are the top-two in the IFL in sacks.
“For the most part, we have played pretty well on defense,” Davis said. “I think in any game you probably have a handful of plays you wish you had back and we had some of those against Green Bay. We’ll have to be firing on all cylinders against Colorado.”
The Ice has played well on defense all year. Colorado leads the league in fewest points per game (35.3) with 21 interceptions and six defensive touchdowns.
The Ice has a top five player in every category:
n Quarterback Willie Copeland is first in passing yards per game (176.6).
n Running back Dennis Kennedy is fifth in rushing yards per game (37.8)
n Former Nebraska-Kearney player Kyle Kaiser is fourth in receiving yards per game (63.5) and tied for second receiving touchdowns (15).
n Danny Mason is second in tackles per game (10).
Davis said he expects a tough challenge from the Ice.
“Willie Copeland is probably one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” he said. “ We expect another great game with them.”
There will also be a number of special in-game activities on Military Night at the events center including:
n Military swear -in ceremony at halftime.
n Military dodge ball competition.
n Special tribute to Korean vets
n Coin toss by Korean heroes
n Hero flight raffle.
Military vouchers for free admission will be available starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Korean Hero Flight table located at the north entrance near the box office.