After an extended training
camp, the Tri-Cities Fever are just hours away from its 2013 season opener. The defending Intense Conference champions open the season with hopes of a third straight trip to the Indoor Football League United Bowl. That quest begins tonight when the Fever travel to Coloroad to take on the Colorado Ice. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:05 pm PST.
“We have a lot of new players and there are some unknowns,” Fever coach Adam Shackleford said. Despite it being the season opener for both teams, there will be little secrets between two of the best teams in the IFL over the past three seasons. “We know a lot of their players pretty well,” he said. “When we recruit we go after a lot of the same players. I think both organizations have similar visions.”
Even more than recruiting the same players, the Fever and Ice have played each other five times over the past two seasons. The Fever is 4-1 in those games, including victories in the playoffs in each of the last two years that ended the Ice’s season. “We’ve played some really good games and I would expect nothing less Friday,” said Shackleford.
The last time the two teams met was in the first round of the 2012 playoffs in Kennewick. The Fever fell behind 31-13 before scoring 25 straight points and eventually pulled out a 54-42 victory on their way to the IFL title game. Three weeks earlier, Brady Beeson hit a field goal as time expired in a 52-49 win at Colorado.
Tri-Cities is coming off its best regular season record in franchise history at 12-2, and finished the season 14-3 with all three losses coming against Sioux Falls, the two-time defending IFL champions.
In order to repeat the success of last year’s team, it is going to take a lot of contributions from some rookies. The Fever will have a new quarterback on opening night for the first time in three seasons. The starting position is between Kasey Peters (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) and Dante Warren (6-0, 200). The Fever will also have a re-tooled offensive line with Pasco native Ryan Tolar (6-3, 315) the lone returner from last season.
Defensively, the Fever will again look to Lionell Singleton (5-9, 185), who tied for second in the regular season last year with 11 interceptions. Rudell Crim (5-10, 180) also returns to the defensive secondary.
Steven Whitehead is one of the few returners on offense after a stellar 2012 season. Whitehead was seventh in the league last year in all-purpose yards with 1,253 and scored 25 touchdowns. “This is the most talent we have had in training camp,” Shackleford said. “It’s fun to watch the team finally come together after a long off season of recruiting.”
-- The Fever reduced its roster on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, bringing it to the league maximum of 25. Released was defensive lineman Bailey Johnson, offensive lineman Josh Harrison, running back Keithon Flemming, offensive lineman Brian Folkerts, defensive back Dennis Rogan and defensive lineman Vaalyn Jackson. Wide receiver, Dejuan Miller, out of Oklahoma State was added to the injured reserve list due to a foot injury.
The Tri-Cities Fever is a member of the Indoor Football League. The Fever's home opener is March 15 against the Nebraska Danger. For tickets call 222-2215 or visit us online at www.tricitiesfever.com