Editor’s note: When the Tri-Cities Fever opens its Indoor Football League season at home against the Wyoming Cavalry on Friday, it will mark the franchise’s 10th campaign. Over a period of 10 days, the Herald has been looking at the top 10 moments and top 10 players in franchise history. Today is No. 2:
No. 2 moment
What to do for an encore?
In 2011, the Tri-Cities Fever made it all the way to the Indoor Football League title game, only to lose to the Sioux Falls Storm. The team finished with a 13-5 record.
Fever coach Adam Shackleford felt he was ahead in his three-year program of getting his team to the title game.
A number of standouts returned in 2012, including quarterback Houston Lillard, receiver Steven Whitehead and defensive back Lionell Singleton.
From the start, Tri-Cities was dominant, beating everyone except one team — the Sioux Falls Storm.
A 12-2 regular-season record (with both losses to the Storm) was good enough for the top seed in the Intense Conference portion of the playoffs.
A playoff win at home over the Colorado Ice, followed by another home playoff win — this time against the Wichita Wild in the Intense Conference championship, set up a rematch of the 2011 IFL title game of the Fever at the Storm.
Alas, the Storm came out on top, winning 59-32 to complete a perfect 17-0 season.
The Fever finished with a 14-3 mark, with all three losses coming at the hands of Sious Falls.
Still it was a great season.
The league named the Fever the franchise of the year. Defensive lineman Jake Killeen and Singleton were first-team All-IFL selections.
Lillard, Whitehead and center Will Falakiseni were named second-team stars.
No. 2 player
Quarterback Doug Coleman
The inaugural Tri-Cities Fever season got off to a rough start when the team went 1-2.
The original head coach was fired. The general manager quit. The starting quarterback quit after two games. The next quarterback shattered his wrist in the third game.
So the team found Coleman, a 6-foot-2, 245-pounder who had played the previous season for the Houma (La.) Bayou Bucks.
Coleman had retired from playing but was convinced to make a comeback.
He didn’t start until the fifth game of the season, and he led the Fever to a 7-3 record over the final 10 contests.
The team qualified for the National Indoor Football League playoffs, and Tri-Cities won road games at Wyoming, Everett and Odessa before hosting the Rome (Ga.) Renegades in the NIFL title game on Aug. 1, 2005.
Coleman passed for four touchdowns and was 22-for-37 for 282 yards as the Fever won the NIFL championship with a 47-31 score.
Having Coleman on the field was like having another coach for head coach Dan Whitsett.
He was the veteran leader — as with defensive leader Ron Childs — on a club filled with youngsters. Between the two of them, they helped the Fever win its only championship.