KENNEWICK -- Two of the Indoor Football League's best teams will battle at 7:05 p.m. today in the Toyota Center.
The Colorado Ice (7-0) and the Tri-Cities Fever (5-1) both lead their respective Indoor Football League divisions.
Fever coach Adam Shackleford has no trouble calling this game the biggest one he has coached in as Tri-Cities' head coach.
"I think it's bigger than the playoff game we had last year," Shackleford said. "Last year I think we overachieved a little. This season we feel like we have the talent to fight for one of those top spots."
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Yet as big a matchup as this is, no one is saying it's a make-or-break game.
"I think both organizations are thinking this is a pivotal game," Shackleford said. "I'm not sure both coaches are. I know (Ice coach) Collins Sanders enough to know that. I expect them to be well-prepared. This is not a must-win for us. But we want to make a statement that we've turned the corner."
Shackleford believes the Ice will try to control the football on offense, eating up the clock to keep his high-flying Fever offense off the field.
"I understand Adam's concern with that," Sanders said. "We want to keep their offense off the field too. But at the end of the day in this league, you can score in a hurry. Time of possession is a misleading stat. Good teams can strike in a hurry."
That the Fever can.
It is still second in the league in scoring, averaging 63.2 points a game. Colorado averages 41 a game.
Shackleford downplays that difference.
"I think you see more scoring in our division because you see the ball in the air more," Shackleford said.
The Fever ranks second (behind Sioux Falls' 217 yards a game) in passing at 214.5 yards.
That won't deter the Ice.
"We're going to continue to do what we've done all year," said Sanders. "We're a pretty aggressive defense. We're gonna force them to make plays."
Colorado ranks second in the league in scoring defense, only surrendering 29.9 points a game. The Fever averages 38.7 points for eighth.
NOTES: Fever QB Houston Lillard is second in the league in QB rating at 107.3. He's tossed 36 TD passes and been intercepted seven times. ... Ice QB David Knighton, out of Harding University, has a 99.8 rating with 21 TD passes and seven interceptions. ... The Ice's Duane Brooks, a wide receiver out of Central Michigan, ranks fifth in the IFL in all-purpose yardage with 632 yards. ... Fever receiver Joey Hew Len is tied for seventh with 35 catches for 458 yards. His 14 TD catches ranks tops in the league. ... Ice kicker Rocky Stevens has connected on 7 of 15 field goal attempts. Fever kicker Gary Cismesia is 4-for-11. But Cismesia is money on extra-point kicks, going 41-for-45 for 91 percent. That's No. 3 in the league. ... Lemans Casimier has returned one kickoff for a touchdown this season for the Ice. ... Fever DB Dennis Rogan is second in the league in interceptions with six. Tyrone King has four for the Ice. ... Ice LB Eryk Anders, who played at Alabama, has a knack for forcing fumbles. He leads the league with three of them. ... Prince Hall, who played at Central Washington University, is a linebacker for the Ice. ... Today's Fever inactives include linebacker Joseph Thornton, receivers Justin Jarvis and Giovanni Stanley, and defensive lineman Brandon Wilson. Jarvis, a receiver out of Boston College who was cut recently by the AFL's Utah Blaze, was signed earlier this week by Shackleford.