VIRGINIA BEACH ——Chris Greisen remembers the feeling.
"And it stinks," the Virginia Destroyers quarterback said.
Greisen and 20 of his current teammates were on the Florida Tuskers team that dropped a 23-20 decision to Las Vegas in the 2010 UFL championship game. The Tuskers have been runners-up in both previous title games.
Those players will have one more chance on Friday, when the Destroyers (3-1) host two-time champion Las Vegas (3-1) in the 2011 championship game at 8 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.
"Us Florida guys have been talking about that all year," Greisen said. "We tell the other players, 'we've been there before.' Now we just need to get out there and finish it off."
The title game will cap a turbulent seven-day stretch for the Destroyers. On Saturday, the team suffered its only loss of the season in overtime at Sacramento. Two days later, the league announced it was canceling the final two weeks of its scheduled six-game season and moving the championship game up to Friday.
The move ticked off players, as it will cost them two game checks as well as more audition opportunities for NFL teams. Yet they insist that it hasn't altered their season-long focus on claiming the league title.
"The crazy thing about sports, and football in particular, is that once you get on that field, you forget about all the other stuff that's going on," linebacker Terrence Melton said. "So even with all these distractions, at practice it's pretty much been business as usual."
The Destroyers took care of business big-time in their previous meeting with Las Vegas. On Sept. 24 at the Sportsplex, Virginia scored on its first three possessions, led 31-3 after three quarters and cruised to a 34-17 victory in its home opener.
A key was that the Destroyers committed just one turnover in that game; in fact Virginia turned the ball over only once in its first two games. But mistakes have plagued Virginia since. An inspired defensive effort allowed them to get away with four turnovers the following week at home against Sacramento. But on Saturday, a Dominic Rhodes fumble set up Sacramento for the game-tying touchdown in the final minute of regulation, and a Wynell Seldon fumble in overtime cemented a 27-20 loss.
"If we take care of the ball, I think we'll be fine," said Greisen, who sat out much of the Sacramento loss with back spasms but says he's good to go for Friday.
According to Melton, anything close to a clean game and they'll be better than fine. They'll be champions.
"I'm sure Las Vegas will be more prepared than the last time they came here, but we'll be more prepared, too," he said. "So I'm expecting the same result."
Fans who purchased tickets for Friday's originally scheduled home game against Omaha must use those tickets for admission to the this championship game. Season ticket holders who purchased tickets for a fourth home game will be offered full refunds beginning next week.
Fans wishing to park at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater should use Concert Drive. Parking there is $5, and a free shuttle will transport fans to the Sportsplex. Parking lots at the Sportsplex open at 4 p.m., and the gates to the stadium open at 6:30 p.m.