WSU standouts carry Tri-Cities to national title

THE TRI-CITIES FEVER -- led on defense by former Washington State Cougars Jeremy Bohannon and Ron Childs -- made their inaugural season in the rough-and-tumble National Indoor Football League one to remember Saturday night when they captured the league championship.

The Fever, playing at home in Kennewick, defeated the Renegades of Rome, Georgia, 47-31 in the fifth annual Indoor Bowl. In their first season, the Fever finished 12-6 and out-performed the league's 20 other teams, thanks in no small part to Bohannon, Childs and former WSU kicker Drew Dunning.

Bohannon, a 5-11, 205-pound safety from Richland, was the team's leading tackler. Before Saturday's big game, for which stats were unavailable, he had racked up 99.5 tackles on.

Meanwhile, the 6-1, 235-pound Childs -- a Kennewick native and former NFL player who captained WSU's legendary Palouse Posse defense of 1994 --- had 85 sticks heading into the championship game.

Childs, the Fever's defensive captain, was all over the field on Saturday and knocked Rome quarterback Bo Bartik out of the game early in the third quarter. But reserve quarterback John Revere led the Renegades to paydirt each of the next two possessions.

Bohannon and Childs were then part of a key goal line stand to deny Rome a 2-point conversion that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter.

Childs brought Rome runners down short of first downs on two successive fourth down attempts in the opening quarter to set the tone.

The Fever defense scored a safety early in the second quarter but the Tri-Cities offense had trouble holding onto the ball, turning the pigskin over four times in the first half. The defense denied the Renegades three times out of four. The lone score came after a controversial fumble, which negated a Bohannon interception on the previous play, and gave Rome the ball at the Tri-Cities 12-yard line.

Bohannon, who made a career-high 13 tackles for WSU against USC last season, played in 38 games for the Cougars before earning his first start.

"He's just an amazing tackler and it was a pleasant surprise to see how tough he is," says Fever coach Dan Whitsett. "He's a kid who can move on to play in the CFL or even the NFL."

The NIFL is not affiliated with the more established Arena Football League, but the game is equally violent given the field's small dimensions (about half the size of a standard football field). The game is played eight-on-eight on a field that fits inside the hockey boards at most arenas.

The games are contested on an indoor-outdoor carpet laid over concrete or ice, turf injuries and infection from cuts and scrapes are as common as blocking and blitzing.

The teams are spread out across the country, with four teams from as far away as Florida. The Fever is in the West Division of the Pacific Conference with Everett its nearest rival.

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