Fever to face Everett for second time this season

By Jeff Morrow, Tri-City Herald sports editor March 22, 2012 

KENNEWICK -- When the Tri-Cities Fever visits the Everett Raptors at 7:05 p.m. today, coach Adam Shackleford and his team will be well-rested after enjoying an Indoor Football League bye last week.

"I went home (to Spokane) for 3 1/2 days," Shackleford said. "I'd say three or four guys flew home to see their families. But I think most of them are waiting to go home when we have our second bye (the week of April 20)."

The Fever is 3-0 for the first time after beating the Colorado Ice 64-50 on March 10 in Kennewick.

"It was a good game," he said. "When you're at home, you have to win, and it was a big win for us. I think we beat a team that's a lot better than their record indicates."

Indeed, the Ice defeated previously unbeaten Allen 61-55 on Sunday in Colorado.

But on to this next game, and Shackleford is wary of playing Everett (1-2) again.

"I think this game this week is tough. It's a rival game on the road," Shackleford said. "There's an environment for a trap game for our guys."

Everett coach Sean Ponder has been tweaking his roster as his team improves.

Ponder signed quarterback Blake Bolles after the Raptors began the season 0-2.

Bolles responded by tossing four touchdown passes and running for four TDs on March 11 as Everett beat Wyoming 68-50 on the road.

Quarterback Charles McCullum was the Raptors' starter when the season opened. But he injured his ankle severely enough in a 70-44 loss to the Fever on Feb. 25 that he had to undergo season-ending surgery.

McCullum threw seven touchdown passes in the game against Tri-Cities.

Shackleford countered this week by signing former standout wide receiver Tre Young and releasing WR Larrone Moore.

The Raptors, meanwhile, signed linebacker Walner Leandre this week. He was All-IFL last season for Nebraska and was released by the Danger early this week. Everett also signed LB Erik Pedersen and released running back Anthony Gay -- who had a strong game returning kickoffs against the Fever last month.

By the numbers

The Fever averages 57.3 points a game (second in the IFL), while Everett is at 46.3 (seventh). ... Tri-Cities' defense gives up 39 points a game (fifth), while the Raptors surrender 56 (13th). ... Everett WR Lonnie Sanders and Tri-Cities WR Steven Whitehead are tied for the league lead with seven touchdowns. ... Raptors WR Andre Piper-Jordan ranks second in the IFL in receiving yardage with 268. ... Fever K Michael Taylor is 20-for-22 on extra-point kicks. ... Fever DB Lionell Singleton has five interceptions, tops among IFL players.

Notes

The Fever heads to Everett today by bus. A large group of Tri-Cities fans is expected, too. ... Tri-Cities and Sioux Falls are the only unbeaten teams left in the IFL. They also are 1-2 in the coaches' poll, with Sioux Falls (2-0) at No. 1 and the Fever at No. 2. ... Former Green Bay Packers RB Ahman Green was introduced Wednesday as a new partner in the Green Bay Blizzard's ownership group.

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