KENNEWICK -- It would seem reasonable that the head coach of a 7-0 football team, heading into a bye week, would be pretty happy after his team just beat its neighborhood rival 54-33.
No such luck when it comes to Tri-Cities Fever coach Adam Shackleford, who watched his team go on a 26-0 run to beat the Everett Raptors on Friday night in front of an estimated 3,700 fans in an Indoor Football League at the Toyota Center.
Even with his parents in the stands, visiting from Ohio.
"I'll be alright after I get out of here," he said.
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Instead, Shackleford was steaming after his receiver, Tre Young, was hit in the head by Everett linebacker Walner Leandre in the moments after the game.
"I don't like seeing one of my players get sucker-punched after the game," said Shackleford. "I hope Everett just goes away. They're a lousy character football team, and it starts with the head coach."
Raptors coach Sean Ponder, whose team falls to 2-5, declined to comment after the game.
But Shackleford wasn't just upset with his rivals. He was kind of mad with his own team.
"We have a bye next week, and we're going to bring four more guys in," he said. "I released (linebacker) Joe Thornton today, and I'll but cutting (defensive lineman) Malcom Bennett tomorrow."
Shackleford said there was a difference in philosophy on how to run the team between the coach and Thornton.
"Joe has his philosphy and I have mine," Shackleford said. "I'm going to win that."
Besides all of the extra-curricular stuff, there was a football game, and that 26-0 run was the difference.
Trailing 20-14 early in the second quarter, Tri-Cities:
-- Tied the game at 20-all on a Dennis Kennedy 3-yard touchdown run.
-- Took the lead 26-20 when Fever quarterback Houston Lillard hit a wide-open Steven Whitehead for a 24-yard TD.
-- Scored again when Whitehead energized the crowd with a one-handed, 12-yard TD catch from Lillard.
-- Scored a fourth time whenLillard found Edward Berry for a 27-yard scoring strike, and suddenly Tri-Cities led 40-20. Everett would never get within a score again.
Lost among all the offensive theatrics was a Tri-Cities defense that stopped the Raptors' offense after each score in that run.
"They saved us when we didn't score a couple of times," said Lillard, who passed for five touchdowns.
Fever defensive back Lionell Singleton, who grabbed his league-leading ninth interception in the first half, said his unit studied a lot more film of the Raptors.
"When you play a team three times already, you're going to know more about them," Singleton said. "Our defense stepped up tonight. We wanted to get a shutout in one quarter and we did it (in the third)."
Offensively, the Fever tweaked its scheme a bit.
"Coach utilized a new scheme. We wanted to try to get (Everett defensive lineman John) Fields away from Houston," said Whitehead, who caught six passes for 92 yards and three TD catches, plus a fourth touchdown rushing the ball.
Fields has been a general pain to the Fever the previous two games.
"We had a game plan to take (Fields) out of the way and we used Dennis as a decoy," said Lillard.
Young also saw some attention from the Raptors defense, especially after he exploded on New Mexico on April 6 for 10 catches for 166 yards and three TDS in a 65-62 win.
He did have seven catches on Friday for 34 yards and a score. But Whitehead was left alone a few times and made Everett pay, and that was fine with Young.
"You can't concentrate on just one person in this offense," said Young.
As for being livid right after the game when Walner hit him?
"I guess a lot of frustration and anger built up in them after we got the better of them," he said.