By: Adam Niemeyer (FOX19 Sports)
Cincinnati(FOX19)—The Cincinnati Commandos look to repeat as CIFL champions on Saturday night at the Cincinnati Gardens. Kickoff against the Marion Blue Racers is set for 7:30 p.m.
"Special teams will be important," Commandos head coach Billy Back said on Thursday at the team's final practice. "They've got a great kick returner in Mike Tatum, and our special teams and kickoff coverage is going to be really important to keep him inside the 10-yard line."
Tatum scored on a 44-yard kickoff return in the first matchup between the teams on March 12 in Marion. The Commandos won that game 50-44, and also beat the Blue Racers 50-20 on May 28th at the Gardens.
The Commandos, who are a perfect 11-0, have relied on the arm and feet of former LaSalle and Bowling Green quarterback Tyler Sheehan all season. This is Sheehan's first season with the Commandos.
"I love [this city]," Sheehan said. "I represent my city wherever I go. My family is here, a lot of my fans are here and I just love going out there every Saturday and putting on a show for everybody."
Terrill Byrd, a UC and Colerain product, was with the Commandos last season. He said that he would give the rookies on this team some advice heading into Saturday's game.
"That's what we love to do, play on a big stage," said Byrd. "This is the last game, there isn't another game after this. It's either we win or we lose, and we want to come out with a win."
"It's a one-game season now," Back said. "It's do or die. This is for the ring, this is for the championship. Although we beat this team twice in the regular season, it's always hard to beat a team three times."
"We can only beat ourselves at this point," Sheehan said. "It's so far down the season that the only way that we can lose this game is if we make mistakes on our own. So I think we're pretty much playing against ourselves, as any other team would say, but I think with us it's true because if we make mistakes, that's when we get in trouble."
"We just want to go out there with the same gameplan and mentality and do what we have to do to win the game," said Byrd.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Cincinnati Gardens.
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