KENNEWICK -- First, the good news.
Teri Carr said she and her husband J.R. plan on running the Tri-Cities Fever franchise next season.
To that end, Fever head coach Adam Shackleford and his staff already have an eye on the 2011 season.
"We've started already recruiting for next year," Shackleford said. "We spend several hours a week working on next year's roster. We're way ahead of where we were last year."
That aside, Shackleford hopes he won't have to concentrate on the 2011 season for at least another four weeks -- since the Indoor Football League playoffs begin today.
The Fever opens postseason play at 2 p.m. Sunday at Billings, where the top-seeded Outlaws (12-2) begin defense of their 2009 IFL title.
The Fever (7-7) is the Intense Conference's No. 6 seed.
The two teams have met three times this season, with Billings winning all three.
"It's tough (to play a team three or four times)," said Shackleford. "We certainly make it easier for them when we make mistakes. Billings is the best team we've faced all year. They're 12-2 for a reason. We can't make mistakes."
Which is what happened last week early in the game, when the Fever dug itself a 20-0 hole in a 68-40 regular-season finale.
"We didn't play well offensively in the first quarter," Shackleford said. "Four turnovers is not going to do it. We have to be consistent."
NOTES:The playoffs begin today with four games, all starting at 5:05 p.m.: Corpus Christi at Arkansas; Omaha at Sioux Falls; Bloomington at Wichita; and Chicago at Green Bay. The Fever-Billings game is the lone Sunday game. The remaining three games are Monday: Rochester at Richmond (4:05 p.m.); West Texas at Amarillo (5:05 p.m.); and Fairbanks at San Angelo (5:05 p.m.).
-- Kent defensive lineman John Fields was named the league's defensive player of the year. Fields had 44 tackles this season, including 11.5 sacks.
Other awards included Richmond quarterback Bryan Randall as the league's MVP; Omaha quarterback Ben Sankey as the offensive player of the year; Richmond's Steve Criswell as coach of the year; Wichita kick returner Randy Kelly as the special teams player of the year; and San Angelo running back Derrick Ross and Colorado linebacker Landon Jones as rookies of the year.
-- Here's the irony: Billings quarterback Chris Dixon failed to earn the league MVP award or offensive player of the year.
However, he is the first-team QB on the all-IFL squad.
It has Shackleford shaking his head.
"He's the best," Shackleford said of Dixon. "He should have been the first-time all league. He can do it all. He's got a lot of experience. He's cool in the pocket."
Here's the rest of the first-team offense: RB Ross; WRs Luke McArdle (Omaha), Clinton Solomon (Wichita) and Kevin Conception (Rochester); OL Nick Marshman (Fairbanks), John Mobley (Wichita) and Derek Stoudt (Richmond).
The first-team defense: DL Michael Bazemore (Billings), Jon Williams (San Angelo) and Fields; LBs Maurice Simpkins (Green Bay) and Colorado's Jones; and DBs Demarcus Jones (Richmond), Cashmin Thomas (Amarillo) and Darnell Terrell (La Crosse).
The first-team special teams: K Tino Amancio (Green Bay); KR Randy Kelly (Wichita) and Specialist Eric Henri (West Texas).
The second-team offense: Omaha's Sankey at quarterback; RB Darius Fudge (Wichita); WRs James Terry (Sioux Falls), Thyron Lewis (Tri-Cities) and James Walton (Billings); and OL Zac Tubbs (Sioux Falls), Rasche Hill (Chicago) and Ronn Spinner (Maryland).
The second-team defense: DL Luis Vasquez (Arkansas), Jason Holman (Richmond) and Devonte Peterson (Omaha); LBs Brenton Brady (Rochester) and Kelly Rouse (Billings); and DBs Johnell Brown Jr. (Fairbanks), Vincent Joseph (Bloomington) and Kevin Patterson (Amarillo).
The second-team special teams: K David Hendrix (West Michigan), KR BJ Hill (Green Bay), and Specialist Jason Lee (Corpus Christi).