Women's football team 'amped up' for first game on Saturday

After 5 1Ú2 months of preparation, the Portland Shockwave will begin play this weekend in the Pacific Northwest Division of the Independent Women's Football League.

'They're a little amped up. They want to get after it,' coach Anthony Davis says of his players, who will face the Boise Xtreme at 6 p.m. Saturday at Beaverton High School.

The Shockwave, whose 4-3 season last year ended in a championship game loss to Tacoma, earned two hard-fought wins over the Xtreme in 2002.

Portland has lost several players, including starting quarterback Nicki Becker and fullback Yvette Sheppard, a key to its ball-control offense. Yet the team will suit up 45 players, the league maximum.

'Offensively, we are head and shoulders above where we were last year at this time,' Davis says. 'We have game breakers in the right positions to make plays.'

Newcomer Asia Wisecarver, only 5-3 and 120 pounds, is the projected starter at quarterback. She played the position in middle school, and Davis likes her arm, agility and willingness to learn.

'She's starting to grasp the offense to the point where she's coming to me with suggestions,' he says. 'Plus, she has confidence when she gets in the huddle.'

'I do feel confident,' says Wisecarver, 21, who played high school basketball and tennis in Stevenson, Wash. 'I'm not calling anyone out; I'll definitely be running away from people. But that's football.'

Davis also is high on 180-pound fullback Bonny Elder ('She loves getting physical') and wide receiver Cheri Chappelle, who played for the disbanded Rose City Wildcats two years ago ('She has, by far, the best hands on the team').

And Davis must find a place for 40-year-old rookie Lisa Lum, whom colleagues describe as both fast and freakishly strong. 'If she gets a seam, there's no player in the league that can catch her,' Davis says. 'I can bring her out there for big plays and figure out ways to get her the ball in the open field.'

'I'm willing to play any position,' says Lum, a special education teacher with Portland Public Schools. 'I just want to make sure I do it well.'

Davis, a 1992 Benson grad who played defensive back before a knee injury ended his career at San Jose State, returns his secondary and is pleased with two additions to the defensive line, Felicia Poe and Kate White.

Poe 'will be huge for us. She's big like a defensive tackle, but she's got defensive-end speed,' Davis says.

White, a Chicago native, will play defensive tackle.

'I could see her really raising havoc,' Davis says. 'One blocker won't stop her.'

Former quarterback Megan Vanden Berg will provide experience and leadership at safety and wide receiver. 'Megan is almost invaluable,' Davis says. 'She helps the coaches out a great deal.'

The visiting Xtreme will rely less on its running game after losing fullback Joce Irving to a knee injury in early March. 'We'll have to mix it up more than I'd like,' says coach Lee Brown, whose key returners include quarterback Audrey Urie and running back Johnnie Griffin.

Davis and the Shockwave are talking championship, though.

'We want to go out and get it,' he says. 'We don't want anybody to give it to us; we want to go take it.'

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