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Sugar Skulls Add to Defensive Squad Signing Ephraim Kitchen and Jeff Branch

December 11, 2021 - Indoor Football League (IFL) - Tucson Sugar Skulls News Release


TUCSON - The Tucson Sugar Skulls continue strengthening their 2022 defensive unit with the additions of defensive back Ephraim Kitchen and defensive lineman Jeff Branch.

DB Ephraim Kitchen (5'11, 185, Louisiana Tech) joins the Sugar Skulls for his IFL rookie season. Collegiately, Kitchen played the 2020 season as a graduate transfer with Georgia Southern University, playing 11 games at cornerback and special teams, registering 20 tackles. Ephraim transferred from Louisiana Tech, where he played four seasons from 2015-2019, excluding a 2017 redshirt season due to injury. He appeared in 17 games for the Bulldogs, totaling 56 tackles, 42 solo, six tackles-for-loss, and five pass breakups. Kitchen was named to the Conference-USA All-Freshman Team following his 2015 season.

A native of Batesville, Mississippi, Kitchen played at South Panola High School. He was ranked third in Mississippi among cornerbacks and 31st in the state among all players. Ephraim was named Mississippi's Defensive Back of the Year with the Tigers, while posting 14 interceptions in three varsity seasons, with five returned for touchdowns. Kitchen led South Panola to two state championships and a No. 6 national ranking during his high school career.

DL Jeff Branch (6'3, 250, Presentation College) joins the Sugar Skulls for his third season in the IFL, and his first with the Sugar Skulls. Branch played three games with the Bismarck Bucks, compiling eight total tackles, four solo, three tackles-for-loss, and one sack.

Prior to joining Bismarck, Branch began the 2021 season with the Louisville Xtreme, registering 15 total tackles, seven solo, five tackles-for-loss, and a quarterback hit in five games. He spent the 2019 season with the Cedar Rapids River Kings, and contributed five total tackles, three tackles-for-loss, with a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

A native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Branch attended Presentation College in Aberdeen, South Dakota for two seasons, registering 113 total tackles. During his senior season, Branch tallied 63 total tackles, 18.5 tackles-for-loss, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), and a team-leading 15 sacks. Branch was named to the North Star Athletic Association All-Conference First Team, American Football Coaches Association All-American Defensive First Team, and was an NAIA & NSAA Defensive Player of the Week selection Additionally, Branch was named an NSAA Scholar-Athlete Award winner in both of his years with the Saints.

Branch attended Landstown High School in Virginia Beach where he saw time on both the offensive and defensive lines, as well as tight end.

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The Sugar Skulls will play eight regular-season home games at Tucson Arena beginning in March, with the 16-game regular season running through July. The IFL playoffs will begin in late July.

Season tickets for the 2022 season are currently on sale to the general public with reduced prices from the 2021 season in several sections of the arena. Season ticket information is on the Sugar Skulls website at tucsonsugarskulls.com. Information also is available by calling the team office at (520) 573-3000. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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