Fever expects title game will be hot, loud

July 12, 2012 

The temperature in Sioux Falls, S.D., is expected to be 93 degrees on Saturday.

Throw in some humidity and 5,000 rabid fans in the Sioux Falls Arena, then things should get pretty hot when the Tri-Cities Fever meets the Sioux Falls Storm in the United Bowl — the Indoor Football League’s championship game.

“The guys complained it was very humid when they played Green Bay a few weeks ago,” said Storm coach Kurtiss Riggs.

It is a fact of life, said Sioux Falls quarterback Chris Dixon.

“You just have to fight through it,” he said.

Then there is the noise. Fever quarterback Houston Lillard said Sioux Falls can be one of the most intimidating places to play.

“They’re hanging from the rafters in there,” Lillard said. “You can’t hear yourself talk. But if we start out fast and get ahead, maybe we can quiet their crowd.”

Just to hedge their bets, the Fever held its final practice in the Tri-Cities on Tuesday in the Toyota Center, piping in a tape of the crowd from a Seahawks game at CenturyLink Field.

“It was loud,” said Fever coach Adam Shackleford. “It was way loud to the point as I was yelling at Houston I couldn’t hear myself.”

Lillard said it was helpful.

“It was different,” he said. “It made us feel like we were in a game atmosphere. It raised the intensity in practice.”

To combat the crowd, the Fever have a set of silent counts they plan to use during the title game. Still, Lillard will have to use his lungs in the huddle.

“You’ve still got to talk loud in the huddle,” he said.

And since most of the team played there in May, everybody already knows what to expect.

“We played them before already,” said Fever defensive back Lionell Singleton. “We know the field size (and the 4-yard deep end zone). We know how loud it’s gonna be. We’re not going to be bothered with that.”

w The Fever arrived in Sioux Falls on Thursday, with players taking four different flights to get there.

There will be a press conference today.

It’s also interesting to note that the Storm has a Sunday afternoon celebration of the season. That’s the day after the game.

Don’t know if Sioux Falls is assuming that victory is inevitable.

w After Saturday’s game, what happens next for the Fever players?

They’ll come back to the Tri-Cities, have physicals taken, get checked out of their apartments, then go home.

Saturday’s title game may be the last competitive contest for some of them.

Fever receiver Steven Whitehead is leaning that way. The co-leader in the IFL this season with 84 receptions also has a budding personal training business.

“I know I’d love to train these guys next season,” he said.

Lillard still wants to play and hopes to move up a level.

“Right now I want to focus on this year, but I plan on moving on,” he said. “I came back to show last year wasn’t a fluke. Being consistent is a big thing. I think I’ve shown that I’ve done more than enough to move up.”

Shackleford said Arena Football League teams have shown a lot of interest in defensive back Lionell Singleton, who had 11 interceptions this season.

But the DB isn’t saure what he wants to do after Saturday night.

“Honestly, I really don’t know right now,” said Singleton, who along with Fever linebacker Brandon Wilson, runs an after-school program for at-risk kids. “We’re getting ready to expand our program to another school. I’ve got to meet with our pastor next week to discuss that. We’ll just see how everything goes. My passion in life is helping kids.”

w Shackleford will be entering the final season of his three-year contract with the Fever. But there is talk of extending it.

“He and I have talked about that,” said Fever owner Teri Carr. “He would like to extend his contract, and I would like to extend his contract. We just haven’t found the time to sit down and talk about it. Right now we’re worried about Saturday’s game.”

w Shackleford made 52 player moves in his first year with the Fever in 2010. He made 37 in 2011.

And this year, it was just 35.

w Fever fans will be at Jackson’s in Richland, watching the game Saturday. Fans can also pay $8 to watch it online by going to the goifl.com website and following directions.

KONA 610 AM will start its pregame show at 5:05 p.m. Kickoff is at 5:35 p.m.

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