KENNEWICK -- The Colorado Ice started the 2010 season with an 0-9 record before it defeated the Tri-Cities Fever 57-41 on May 15 for its first victory in a 2-12 season.
Fast forward to this season, where the Ice comes to Kennewick for a 7:05 p.m. Indoor Football League game Saturday at the Toyota Center, sporting a 7-0 record.
The Fever is no slouch either, as it enters this showdown with a 5-1 record.
"They're a very good team," Colorado coach Collins Sanders said of the Fever. "Coach (Adam) Shackleford and I spent the offseason giving each other some grief and fun ribbing. The whole recruiting season we were going after the same type of players. When the season started, I had people come up to me and say 'You guys and Tri-Cities have done the most to improve your roster.' "
Sanders likes what he sees in the Fever franchise.
"Coach Shack and I get along well, and we have a healthy respect for each other and the game," Sanders said.
But there hasn't been a bigger turnaround this season than Colorado's.
How did it happen?
"A couple of things," Sanders said. "Last year we had 26 rookies on our squad. Of those guys on the squad, several came back. Also, we were hit real early in the last season with a rash of injuries. We started five quarterbacks in our first six games, largley due to injuries."
Sanders also praises his son, Dillon Sanders, for his job as the team's recruiting coordinator.
"Dillon did an unbelievable recruiting job," Collins said. "He had a knack to go after a player that we wanted. We ended signing three guys from Alabama's national championship team."
Now, throw in the addition of Heron O'Neal as the team's defensive coordinator. O'Neal coached the Billings Outlaws to IFL titles in 2009 and 2010. The Billings franchise folded, and O'Neal was hired to coach the Kent Predators this season.
But a month into his hiring, he quit when he wasn't getting paid and joined up with the Ice.
"Adding Coach O'Neal to the defense was a huge factor because it took some stuff off my plate," Sanders said. "We also have stability in our ownership. We've had four owners in four years. Now we have a very solid owner and franchise, and that helps."
So Saturday's matchup will feature two of the league's top teams. And there's a chance they could do battle three times this season -- Saturday, a regular-season game May 20 at Colorado, and a possible playoff matchup.
"There is that possibility," Sanders said. "But I don't want to count the chickens before they hatch."
One step at a time, and it starts Saturday night.