FAIRBANKS—Tonight’s Indoor Football League game will mark the third battle between the Fairbanks Grizzlies (5-3) and Wenatchee Valley Venom (2-6) this season. Grizzlies coach Robert Fuller said having seen the Venom once per month since the season began in February makes today’s game even more important.
“We view this as a very important game because when you play a division opponent three times, the tie breaker is this game,” he said Wednesday during the Grizzlies practice at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Patty Center. “We’re very excited for this opportunity.”
The two teams split their last two contests, the Venom winning 45-37 in late February in the Carlson Center. The Grizzlies won the second battle a month later, 50-43, in Wenatchee, Wash.
Although he’s seen Wenatchee twice in as many months, Fuller said preparing to host the Venom is a challenge.
“Both teams are familiar with each other,” he said, “so at this point, it’s the personnel changes they’re making in their roster that make preparing a unique challenge.”
Wenatchee lost starting quarterback Devin Hollins, whom Fuller called the team’s “catalyst to their offense,” to a knee injury. Fuller said the Venom brought in another quarterback, someone he describes as very mobile, presenting the Grizzlies with a new set of challenges.
Hollins had 244 yards against the Grizzlies at the Carlson Center in February. He went 22 for 35, threw three touchdowns and one interception.
As far as preparing themselves, the Grizzlies don’t alter their preparation techniques for their opponents.
“We’ve kind of brainwashed ourselves to do all we can do be 1-0 each night,” Fuller said. “We focus on the task at hand when it’s on hand. We don’t change how we prepare for who we play.”
Tonight’s game, dubbed Military Appreciation Night, kicks off at 7 at the Carlson Center. North Pole native Daryn Colledge, a left guard for the 2011 Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers and former Boise State University All-American, will be in attendance, joining the teams at midfield for the coin toss to start the game.
Contact staff writer Renee Thony at 459-7583.