Kennewick, WA- The Tri-Cities Fever closes out the first half of the 2012 Indoor Football League at home Friday night against the Everett Raptors. Kickoff is 7:05 p.m. at the Toyota Center.
If it seems like the Fever just played the Raptors, it’s because the Fever just did. This is the seventh game for the Fever (6-0) this season, and third meeting against their intrastate rivals.
The Fever, who are one of two undefeated teams in the IFL and off to its best start in franchise history, is 2-0 against the Raptors (2-4). But Fever coach Adam Shackleford cautions jumping to any conclusions looking too far ahead.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times in a season,” he said. “This is going to be another test for us.”
The Fever is coming off its toughest test of the year, a 65-62 win at New Mexico last Friday night. After letting a 21-point first-half lead evaporate, the Fever eked out a win thanks to a last-second field goal by Michael Taylor.
“I think that game really showed the character of our team,” Shackleford said. “We came together in the fourth quarter and stepped up and made the plays when we had to.”
This game is not only important in the fact that Tri-Cities can finish the first half the season undefeated, but now we start looking at some playoff implications.
Another key matchup this weekend is the defending champion Sioux Falls Storm (5-0) taking on the Allen Wranglers (5-1). A Storm win and the Fever would have a two-game lead in the Intense Conference over the Wranglers. A Wranglers win and the Fever would gain the inside track to the best record in the IFL and a possible chance to host the championship game if they could make it that far.
But for any of that to matter, the Fever needs to take care of the game in front of them. It starts by taking care of the ball. The Fever turned the ball over five times in the win over New Mexico. At the same time, the Fever racked up a season-high 406 yards of total offense, while quarterback Houston Lillard threw for a season-high 343 yards.
“When you play on a short field like that, you can score in a hurry,” Shackleford said about the win at New Mexico.
After beating the Raptors 70-44 on opening night in February in Kennewick, the second meeting in Everett was much closer as Tri-Cities rallied in the second half and pulled out a 54-48 victory.
Lillard scored on a 5-yard touchdown run in the final seconds and the defense got a sack as the clock expired.
“We are expecting another tough game,” said of Everett, which is coming off 52-35 win over Nebraska.
Notes: The Fever is the second-highest scoring offense, averaging 58.8 points per game; Everett is ranked seventh at 45.8 points per game …
Defensively, the Fever is allowing 44.7 points per game, while Everett ranks third from the bottom in the league, allowing 51 points per game …
Fever receiver Steven Whitehead ranks second in the league in total yards with 682 and second in touchdowns with 15. RB Dennis Kennedy is fourth in the IFL with 644 total yards …
Lillard ranks fifth in the league in rushing with 216 yards …
Whitehead is second in the league with 45 receptions …
Lionell Singleton leads the IFL in interceptions with 8 and is ranked 11th in the league in tackles with 39.
For tickets to Friday’s game, call 222-2215 or visit us online at www.tricitiesfever.com.