KENNEWICK -- It's one thing to play another team in a home-and-home series.
It's quite another to play them a third time or more.
When it comes to the Tri-Cities Fever (6-0) and the Everett Raptors, though, today's Indoor Football league game between these two teams will be their third meeting in eight weeks.
Kickoff is at 7:05 p.m. in the Toyota Center.
"We're kind of out on an island here in the Northwest," said Fever coach Adam Shackleford. "We have to play each other a few times, because financially it's tough to have to go back east."
The Fever has won both of the meetings so far -- 70-44 in the season opener in Kennewick on Feb. 25, then 54-48 in Everett on March 22.
"You understand that beating a team three times is hard," Shackleford said. "We don't want to give them any momentum to make the playoffs. Because it's possible we could meet them in the playoffs too."
That would be a fifth time, then, because these guys meet again in Everett on May 4.
Everett coach Sean Ponder coached the Fairbanks Grizzlies a few years ago, and back then his squad had to play the Alaska Wild four times in the regular season -- five times if you count the one exhibition game they played against each other.
"I think one thing is the familiarity," Ponder said. "In the offensive schemes, teams find ways to stop certain things. Defensively, it's the same thing. You find holes in each other's defense. We've played (Tri-Cities) enough, they know what we do and we know what they do. So you just line up and play football."
For Ponder's team, which sits in fourth in the Intense Conference tied with Wichita at 2-4, playing football got tougher this week.
"I have seven guys on IR (injured reserve)," he said. "For some reason we're going through an injury bug. I also lost a player to the CFL. So I've had to shuffle the roster."
One of his biggest losses is defensive lineman Michael Graise, who has given the Fever fits in their first two meetings.
"He tore his knee," said Ponder. "He's been playing with it, but the doctor says the best scenario is to sit and give it rest."
Ponder knows in order for the Raptors to win, they have to contain the Fever offense.
"Tri-Cities has a great offense, a very good quarterback in Houston Lillard," Ponder said. "You have to watch their big three in Lillard, (running back Dennis) Kennedy and (wide receiver Steven) Whitehead."
He'll need to add Fever receiver Tre Young to that list too.
Young exploded last week in the Fever's 65-62 road win at New Mexico, catching 10 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns.
"(New Mexico) played a lot of man-to-man in the first half, and we had Tre isolated on the back side against a kid we didn't think could stay with him."
Tonight, Shackleford said, his team will need more offensive consistency that it had last time these two teams met.
"We need to score in the Red Zone," Shackleford said. "We need to score more touchdowns and have les field-goal attempts. And our defense needs to communicate better."
Shackleford made another roster move this week, signing defensive lineman Vaalyn Jackson, a 6-foot, 295-pounder who played at McNeese State, where he was a teammate of Whitehead's.
"He played in the preseason two years ago with the New Orleans Saints, and last year was with Saskatchewan in the Canadian Football League and then New Orleans Voodoo in the AFL," said Shackleford.
Defense back Josh Abrams, who played in just one game, was released.
"People think that just because you're winning, you're not going to make a change," he continued. "If you can upgrade, you upgrade. I've tried to get this guy for two years now."
Shackleford is kind of intrigued about Saturday's game in Allen, Texas, where the 5-0 Sioux Falls Storm visits the 5-1 Wranglers.
"Hoping we can win our game, that game is great for us," he said. "If Sioux Falls wins, then that could put us up two games over Allen. If Allen wins, we might be the only undefeated team left."
By the numbers: The Fever is still second in the league in scoring at 58.8 points, while Everett is seventh at 45.8. ... Tri-Cities is ranked sixth defensively, surrendering 44.7 points, while Everett is 14th at 51 points. ... Three of the top five all-purpose yardage guys are in this game: Whitehead at No. 2 with 682 yards, Kennedy fourth at 644, and Everett's Mike Tatum at 642. Tatum has returned four kicks for touchdowns this season. ... Lillard is fourth among QBs in passing yards per game at 202.2, while Everett's Blake Bolles is fifth at 190.3. Lillard has a 28-5 TD pass-to-interception ratio, while Bolles is 13-3. ... Whitehead is second in the league with 45 receptions. He's fifth in yardage at 410, but Everett's Andre Piper-Jordan is second at 515 on just 23 catches -- a whopping 22.4 yards a catch. ... Fever DB Lionell Singleton leads the league with eight interceptions.