KENNEWICK -- The Tri-Cities Fever suffered a bump in the road last weekend when it lost 58-20 to the host Fairbanks Grizzlies.
For a team with a 7-2 record in the Indoor Football League, it was an aberration -- mainly the score.
Which makes tonight's game against the visiting Wenatchee Valley Venom pretty important. Kickoff is at 7:05 p.m. in the Toyota Center.
"The game really can't come fast enough," said Fever wide receiver Steven Whitehead, who scored all three of Tri-Cities' touchdowns last week. "Football is not like any other sport, like baseball or basketball where you play every day or every other day. You want to get that sour taste out of your mouth."
This will be the first regular-season game ever in the Toyota Center between the two geographic rivals, and Adam Shackleford is wary of the Venom, even with its 3-7 record.
"They won last week," said Shackleford, referring to the Venom's 41-36 victory over the Wyoming Cavalry that snapped a seven-game losing streak. "They have got a new quarterback in Charles Dowdell. This guy gives them a (Seattle Timberwolves quarterback) Charles McCullum look. He'll try to spread us out, and he throws an adequate ball. They've got some weapons stiill. And they've got some momentum after their last win."
Wenatchee Valley coach Brian Smith agrees.
"It was great to get (the losing streak) off our back," said Smith. "We were struggling, finding ways to lose games, and this is one step in the right direction. We're trying to get better."
The Venom handed the Fever its only other loss this season, a 59-52 win in Wenatchee on March 5.
That was then, said Smith. This is now.
"They're a great team," said Smith of the Fever. "They're probably one of the best in the league. We've gotta have our best game ever. Those guys will be ready and it's their house."
Shackleford said the key to the game is simple.
"We need to take care of the football and protect the quarterback," said Shackleford. "We need to make the right decisions on the field."
As for Wenatchee, "They like to throw the football," said Shackleford. "They're gonna use (Dowdell's) legs. We know how to defend it. We've just got to go out and do it."
"I think you learn from any game you play, and we learned last week," Whitehead said. "We got a taste of some humble pie. We also have got to step up on the road. We've got to be prepared to put up numbers. We have to redeem ourselves, and we've got to take care of business."
By the numbers (ranked in the IFL)
1 -- Wenatchee Valley receiver Timmothy Simmons is the top pass catcher in the league with 78. ... Fever WR Joey Hew Len leads the IFL with 18 TD receptions.
2 -- The Fever offense ranks second in the IFL in scoring at 56.7 points a game. ... Fever's Houston Lillard's QB rating of 109.4. Lillard also has 39 TD passes. ... Venom WR Phillip Goodman is second in the IFL with 16 TD catches.
3 -- Simmons has 678 receiving yards.
4 -- Hew Len is fourth in the IFL with 52 catches. he ranks fourth in receiving yards at 607.
5 -- Venom's Simmons has 983 all-purpose yards. .. Fever DB Dennis Rogan has seven interceptions.
6 -- Venom's Goodman is sixth in the IFL in receiving yards with 547 yards.
8 -- Fever KR Rogan has 463 kick return yards.
11 -- Fever defense ranking in points surrendered at 40.6 a game.
17 -- Ranking for Venom in scoring offense at 34.5 points.
21 -- Venom's defensive ranking, averaging 58 points a game surrendered.
Notes: Tonight is Go Pink Night. All Fever players will be wearing pink jerseys to support the fight against breast cancer. The jerseys will be auctioned off during the game, and all proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen foundation. ... After tonight, Tri-Cities has one more regular-season home game, May 28 vs. Fairbanks. ... As of Friday, the Fever had new receiver Justin Jarvis activated for tonight's game. ... Wenatchee Valley's Goodman and DB Ray Little are former Fever players. ... Wenatchee Valley's Northwest connections: DL Michael Graise (WSU), WR/DB Shane Hoffman (EWU), DL Joseph Maaseia (Portland State), DB Austin Smith (Boise State), and RB Clinton Taylor (EWU).