06/20/2009 9:03 AM
Head Coach Adam Shackleford enjoys a quite moment to himself before the game. Tonight, Shackleford's Shock host the Tri-Cities Fever.
It’s been said that numbers never lie, and the numbers for tonight’s opponent, the Tri-Cities Fever, are not good. So far this season, the Fever have won one game and lost ten. Their offense is last in the league averaging; just 219.6 yards per game with 37 turnovers.
But to Head Coach Adam Shackleford the Fever’s record doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the Spokane Shock (10-0) are trying to win another Division Championship and stay ahead of the rest of the Conference over the final six games of the regular season.
“We haven’t broken free from the teams that are chasing us,” Shackleford explained. “In the little picture, Boise is right on our tail. In the big picture, Boise and Tulsa are right on our tail. If we keep winning, Boise and Tulsa can’t catch us. It doesn’t matter what they do, if we keep winning.”
The numbers also show you that Tri-Cities defense is second in the af2 in yards allowed, yielding just 247 yards per game, compared to Spokane’s defense which has allowed 272 yards per game.
In their previous two meetings, Spokane has defeated Tri-Cities by an average of 36 points. However, in the first meeting game between the two, the Fever defense held Spokane’s passing offense to its lowest total of the season (184 yards). In the second meeting this season, the Shock’s offense committed two fumbles.
“If we turn the ball over, they will stay in the game,” Shackleford explained. “If we don’t turn the ball over, we will win the game.”
The strength of the Fever’s defense comes from their secondary, led by Jamie Hattley and DeVon Walker. Last week against the Boise Burn, Walker and Hattley accounted for three turnovers (two fumble recoveries and one interception) and combined for 12 tackles.
Walker leads the team in tackles (50.5) and pass break-ups (14). Hattley, who was an all-conference player in 2007, is second on the team in tackles (41.5) and pass break-ups (six) and leads the team in interceptions (three).
Walker and Hattley will be challenged by the Shock’s offense that put up a club record 88 points in last week’s win against the Stockton Lightning. QB Nick Davila completed 69% of his passes for 310 yards and seven touchdowns. WR Raul Vijil collected 149 receiving yards and added five touchdowns, bringing his team-leading total of 24.
Shackleford was quick to credit his defense, which created a club-record nine turnovers in last week's victory.
“With 88 points the offense will get a lot of attention, but, our defense was the star of the game,” Shackleford said after the game. “Your offense is not going to put up that many points unless your defense is creating turnovers. Our defense is absolutely relentless.”
With a win tonight, the Shock will tie last season’s club record of 11 straight wins. But more importantly, at least for Shackleford, they will be one step closer to reaching their first goal of the season – winning their fourth-straight Western Division Championship.