Another week, another regular-season playoff game for the Tri-Cities Fever.
The Fever (4-6) plays at the Colorado Ice (6-3) at 5:05 p.m. Saturday in a key Indoor Football League game.
During the first seven games this season, Tri-Cities dug itself a hole and started with a 1-6 record.
But for the past three weeks, the Fever has played very well, winning three consecutive games and closing in on both the Ice and the Nebraska Danger (6-4) in the Intense Conference standings and for the two playoff berths.
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Fever coach Adam Shackleford’s team can’t afford any more losses if it wants to make the playoffs.
Ice coach Heron O’Neal — whose team won the first meeting 42-38 on March 1 — has taken notice of what Shackleford’s team is doing.
“It’s kind of gonna be going out during the first quarter and figure out what they’re doing,” O’Neal said. “They have so many new guys on offense since the last time we played them, that you can look at them on film all day and it doesn’t matter until you actually play them to get a feel.”
Fever quarterback Dante Warren has given Tri-Cities a new wrinkle, O’Neal continued.
“Warren is out there shakin’ and bakin’,” O’Neal said. “Now that they’re hot, it makes it a different story. Their special teams have played really well. What? They recovered three fumbles against Cedar Rapids a few weeks ago? That’s a big key right there.”
And the Ice will be facing a Fever team that has a new-found confidence that goes with this win streak.
“They are definitely a good team,” Warren said of Colorado. “They’re well-coached. But if we play our style and execute, we should come out on top. I firmly believe we have the guys to win this game.”
The Fever added some new guys for this week.
Shackleford released backup quarterback Theo Scott and kicker Brady Beeson, and picked up wide receiver Jackie Chambers and kicker Dan Kleckner.
Chambers spent time with the Fever last season, and has been playing in the Arena Football League. Kleckner played last season for the now-defunct Everett Raptors.
Meanwhile, O’Neal has been making his own moves.
He re-signed offensive lineman Mario Henderson, who was with the team last season but has also been with the NFL’s Chargers and Raiders.
But new players aside, if the game plan isn’t followed it won’t matter.
“The game is going to come down to who executes the best,” said O’Neal.
Last week, Shackleford told his players that they are still the two-time Intense Conference champions, after going to the IFL title game in 2011 and 2012.
“And you will be until someone beats us,” he said.
O’Neal agrees with that assessment.
“Shack is a great football coach,” O’Neal said. “He’s not a good football coach. He’s a great football coach. He’s done a magical job there.”
Notes: O’Neal admitted that he is in talks to sign former Fever LB Joe Thornton and ex-Tri-Cities RB Dennis Kennedy. They may sign and report next week to Colorado. ... The two teams meet next Saturday at Toyota Center, making it the second time this season the Fever plays the same team in consecutive weeks. Tri-Cities did that with Wyoming in March.