Tri-Cities Fever

Fever opens IFL season today in Alaska

KENNEWICK -- Forget about the uniforms.

That's the least of Adam Shackleford's worries when the Tri-Cities Fever opens its IFL season on the road at 8:05 p.m. (KONA 610 AM) today against the Fairbanks Grizzlies.

Shackleford said there's just too many unknowns going into this game.

"I'm trying to get a grasp on this," said Shackleford, who led the Spokane Shock to the Arena Cup title last season and was 50-7 over three seasons with the arenafootballleague2 team. "I'm new to this league. I think we've got a lot of good athletes. I think effort-wise (from the last two weeks of practice), we're at a 10. Skill-wise, I'm happy with our guys."

But, he adds, the Fever go into this game with little indoor experience.

"I think in this game we'll have 11 guys who have never been indoors before," Shackleford said.

A fire that burned down the Kennewick home of Paula Ward, the team's seamstress, on Saturday included the loss of the team's uniform jerseys.

Ward was thankfully not harmed in the fire, and Southridge High School has stepped up to lend the team its road whites.

Meanwhile, the Fever takes on a Grizzlies team that defeated the Alaska Wild last week 29-28.

"We've been watching film of that game all week," said Shackleford. "I think they made some first-game mistakes that they won't make this time around."

If it's any consolation, the Grizzlies have no film of the Fever, since the team hasn't played a game.

"Unfortunately," Grizzlies head coach Sean Ponder told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "they've been able to watch two videotapes of us Iincluding an exhibition game) and scout us, but we haven't been able to watch videotape and scout them. We're going in not knowing what we're going up against, besides just the players we see on their roster."

The 21-man travel roster includes starting quarterback Andy Collins, a Zillah native who played in the old AFL; wide reciever Brandon Copeland, who played for the Philadelphia Soul in the old AFL; running back Tyson Thompson, who has played for the Dallas Cowboys; and wide receiver Kevin Heard, the only connection to the Fever's inaugural team, in which he played and helped the team win the 2005 National Indoor Football League championship.

"I think we're very deep at running back and defensive back," said Shackleford. "Our depth and talent is outstanding there. But depth at some positions are not as strong. Both quarterbacks (Collins and Houston Lillard) are strong. Those guys will battle all year. Defensively, we're outstanding."

Just how oustanding, Shackleford's not sure until after tonight's first game.

Note: Kickoff is set for 8:05 p.m. PST. KONA 610 AM radio will have a pregame show at 7:30 p.m., and fans can go to Kimo's in Richland to watch the game.

Fever's opening-night roster

Kenny Ackerman, OL, Nevada

Kwame Agyeman, DB, Oregon

Pernell Booth, OL, Oregon State

Blair Boynton, DL, Northern Arizona

Andy Collins, QB, Occidental College

Brandon Copeland, WR, Philadelphia Soul (AFL)

Demetrius Crawford, RB, Montana State

Dwain Crawford, DB, Baylor

LaReylle Cunningham, WR, California

Kevin Heard, WR, Southern Mississippi

Brett Jaekle, K, Nevada

Thyron Lewis, WR, Howard

Houston Lillard, QB SE Misouri State

Ray Little, DB, Sacramento City College

Derek Nicholson, LB, Florida State

Montavis Pitts, DB, Auburn

Fred Poole, DL, Mississippi Valley State

Jo Artis Ratti, LB, Idaho

Curtis Terry, DL, Ohio State

Tavita Thompson, OL, Oregon State

Tyson Thompson, RB, San Jose State