KENNEWICK -- Coach Collins Sanders said that the last time his Colorado Ice played the Tri-Cities Fever, it was an instant classic.
The Fever handed the Ice its only loss this season on April 23 with a 48-42 victory, when Tri-Cities quarterback Houston Lillard connected on a long touchdown pass with Joey Hew Len in the waning seconds of the game.
"Even though we lost, that was one of the most fun games I've been involved with just because of the atmosphere they created (in the Tri-Cities)," Sanders said. "They're just a first-class organization, and it was a great game."
Now 9-1, the Ice plays host to the Fever (8-2) at 6 p.m. Friday in Fort Collins.
Collins and Fever coach Adam Shackleford have a lot in common in that both recruit the same type of player, have similar offensive philosophies and are still looking for the perfect football game to be played by their teams.
"If you sit back and take a look at the game film and don't find something to work on, you need to get out of the game," Sanders said.
Shackleford agrees, but adds, "I hope I find (the perfect game) Friday night and he's still looking for it."
Both coaches agree they'll do some tweaking to the game plans. But they're also smart enough to know they must stay with what makes them successful.
"There's gonna be a little chess match between us," Sanders said. "But at the end of the day, the players on the field will decide this."
To that extent, Shackleford sees some keys to what his team must do.
"We have to stop their run, and we have to cover their running back coming out of the backfield," Shackleford said. "We have to take away (receiver Lemans Casamier) as a threat, and we have to tackle (receiver Duane Brooks). We have to keep our defense off the field, control the game, maybe not go for the home run so much and take the 5-yard hitch instead."
Sanders wants to cut down on mistakes.
"Certainly on turnovers," he said. "And on special teams. The last time we played them they returned a kickoff for a touchdown. The last time we played them, it was four or five plays we had in the game that either way could have made the outcome different."
Sanders referred to a 54-yard kickoff return by the Fever's Dennis Rogan, and undisciplined penalties by his team.
"We take the lead with 10 seconds to go with a touchdown," Sanders said. "Our guy gets a penalty for taking off his helmet. Now, we stop them at their own 10 on the next kickoff, but when they march that penalty off, they're at midfield and have a chance to win the game."
It was one of four or five plays that made the difference.
Shackleford signed another quarterback this week in Joel Steele.
Steele played for Shackleford at Anderson University in Indiana and then at Louisville in the af2, where one season he had 86 touchdown passes, completed 56 percent of his attempts and threw for 3,479 yards.
He is one of the all-time leading passers in NCAA history, playing for his Division III school.
"In a perfect world, Joel doesn't play," Shackleford said. "I'm not looking to make a quarterback change. Houston knows that, and Joel knows that."
When the regular season ends June 12, all IFL rosters are frozen, which is why Shackleford made the move now in case something happens to Lillard on the team's way to the playoffs.
"Steele is not going to be here full time," Shackleford said. "He understands the situation. This puts Antwon Young at No. 3 quarterback."
Steele has worked as a branch manager for Verizon Wireless in Phoenix for the last few years.
Steele last played for Amarillo in the af2 against Shackleford and the Spokane Shock in the Arena Cup in 2008.