Football: Fever won, but still have work to do

March 4, 2014 

A win is a win, so Tri-Cities Fever coach Adam Shackleford will take last Friday’s 69-26 victory over the visiting Wyoming Cavalry.

But he can’t be satisfied, not with the defending Indoor Football League champion Sioux Falls Storm coming to town for a game at the Toyota Center on Saturday night.

“After looking at the film, I don’t think we would have beaten Sioux Falls the other night,” Shackleford said. “We’ve got some work to do this week. We benefitted from (Wyoming’s) mistakes, and we forced them to make mistakes.”

Offensively, the Fever struggled in the first half after receiver Jackie Chambers got hurt with a possible concussion.

Shackleford was forced to put Fever defensive back Lionell Singleton in at receiver.

“Lionell knows when he is in he runs four pass patterns, so the playbook is limited,” Shackleford said.

It forced quarterback Dante Waren to make some decisions to run the ball when he probably should have passed, and the Fever starting quarterback took some hard hits from the Cavalry defense.

“He was hoping to have Jackie in for the whole game,” said Shackleford. “Once Jackie came back, things were OK.”

Chambers was given the doctor’s clearance to play in the final two quarters, and the receiver caught two touchdown passes from Warren, and another from backup quarterback Andre Broadous — all in the second half.

The way the Fever offense played in that second half made Shackleford happy.

So did the Fever’s special teams play. Boris Lee blocked not one, but two field-goal attempts during the game, including one where he got to the football before Cavs kicker Jared Wood did.

Lee got up and jogged 5 yards to the end zone for a score.

“I also thought that (kicker) Brady Beeson had a great night,” said Shackleford.

Beeson had a field-goal attempt blocked, and he missed one extra-point attempt. But his kickoffs gave the Cavalry fits all night.

The opening kickoff ended up being a 1-point rouge for the Fever when Wyoming’s return man struggled to get the ball out of the end zone. A few other times, Beeson’s kicks hit the field, then skipped off the wall and out of bounds, forcing Wyoming to start offensively deep in its own territory.

Shackleford felt his defensive unit giving up two touchdowns in the final few minutes didn’t need to happen.

“And I felt we needed to get more pressure on their quarterbacks,” he said.

Finally, with just 20 players suiting up, he wasn’t happy that offensive lineman Will Lawrence was ejected for fighting with Wyoming defensive lineman Brycen Kelly (who was also ejected).

“Any time you have players kicked out, it’s not good,” said Shackleford.

Notes: Shackleford announced on Facebook on Monday that he had convinced former Pittsburgh Steeler Kimo von Oelhoffen to come on board and coach the defensive linemen. “I’ve been trying to get him to come out and coach for years,” said Shackleford. von Oelhoffen owns Kimo’s in Richland, and lives in the Tri-Cities. Shackleford will continue to work with the offensive line, while von Oelhoffen will work with the defensive line. Assistant coach Cleveland Pratt remains in charge of the defense. ... DL Brandon Rankin, who suffered a posisble concussion at the end of Friday’s game, should be ready to play against Sioux Falls. ... Fever owner Teri Carr was happy with the 4,407 fans who came to Friday’s opener. “We had long lines at our office both Thursday and Friday of people wanting to buy tickets,” she said. ... Warren’s performance turned out to be strong, especially in the second half. But Broadous also looked impressive in his backup role. He got plenty of playing time, coming into the game in the third quarter. Fever defensive backs Donyae Coleman and Quinton Richardson also had standout performances Friday, with both of them making some hard hits. ... The team announced it had released linebacker Tyler Holmes on Tuesday.

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