KENNEWICK -- It's only one game, but even the Tri-Cities Fever players were pretty happy with how they started the 2011 Indoor Football League season Saturday night: with a 76-28 victory over the visiting Arizona Adrenaline.
"From last year to this year there has been a big change," said Fever defensive back Lionell Singleton, who had a fumble recovery in the game
Fever coach Adam Shackleford was hired just three months before the 2010 season started, and many of the players he would have liked to sign already were locked up by another team.
So he was forced to sign more veterans -- many whom were used to doing things their own way rather than Shackleford's -- than he wanted to.
"I like to sign a lot of younger players and keep a couple of veterans, guys who have played for me before," Shackleford said.
That wasn't possible last season. And the team's chemistry was never really there.
Singleton, who played last season for the Fever as well as now, can see the difference. "We've really come together as a team, and we feed off of each other," he said.
Fever defensive back Dustin Bell, who also had an interception Saturday night, agreed.
"Shack did an awesome job of recruiting the guys on this team," Bell said. "I couldn't believe it when I came into camp and saw who was here."
Arizona coach Drew Moore, who is also a co-owner of the Adrenaline, was a little shell-shocked after Saturday's loss as he stood in the bowels of the Toyota Center.
"We got outplayed and outcoached," said Moore, a former NFL offensive lineman. "We had veterans giving up. I thank God we have a bye week before our home opener. I don't think in my coaching career I've gotten beaten that bad before. We've got two weeks to make some changes. And I guarantee you, you won't see the same outcome when the Fever come visit us."
A couple of numbers stick out from Saturday's game:
64 -- yards rushed by Fever running back Dennis Kennedy. For a team last season that struggled running the ball at times, that's a great start.
12-for-12 -- What Fever kicker Gary Cismesia was during the game -- perfect. He connected on both field goal attempts and all 10 extra-point kicks. In addition, his performance on kickoffs was impressive as he mixed it up with squibs, pinpoint accuracy and high, lofting kicks. Twice he put the Adrenaline in a hole, forcing them start at the 5. For his first ever indoor game, it was near perfect.
170 -- Yards passing by Arizona veteran Keith Poole, who came off the bench to spark the Adrenaline. "I should have gone with my gut and started the veteran," lamented Moore. "The tempo changed when he came in."
Elsewhere: The Fever heads to Wenatchee on Saturday to play the Venom at the Town Toyota Center. Kickoff is at 7:05 p.m. (KONA 610 AM). ... The Venom opened IFL play with a 45-37 victory on the road over the Fairbanks Grizzlies. Wenatchee Valley quarterback Devin Hollins threw for 209 yards on 20-for-33 passing. The Venom also scored three touchdowns off of turnovers. Hollins finished last season with the Venom in the AIFA but wasn't with the team when the Fever trounced them 53-14 in an exhibition game Feb. 17. Venom head coach Brian Smith went out soon after and signed Hollins. ... Quarterback Chris Dixon accounted for more points than what the Kent Predators scored on Friday night at the Showare Center. Dixon passed for 221 yards, 10 touchdowns, and ran in for two more TDs as Sioux Falls routed the Predators 105-71.