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Friday, April 18, 2014

Wild coach Morris Lollar pleased with roster composition

By Jeffrey Lutz
The Wichita Eagle

Sometimes the potential success of a team can be measured not only by what players make up its roster, but also by which ones are left off.

To that end, Wild coach Morris Lollar can forecast positive outcomes for his team, which begins the Indoor Football League season next Saturday at Allen.

Lollar is happy with the 25 players he kept for the opening day roster, while reflective over the decision to release some who could have helped the team. He’s particularly high on Wichita’s offensive and defensive lines.

"I love what I see so far," Lollar said. "… I think, quite honestly, we released some pretty darn good players. The good thing about that is when you release pretty darn good players on and off the field, it means that you’ve got better players on and off the field."

Lollar is guiding the Wild during preseason camp for the first time. Last season, he took over for Ken Matous after Wichita started 0-5 and led the team to a 6-2 record the rest of the way.

The players on last year’s team responded to Lollar; this season he’ll deliver the message to many new faces.

"It’s a great bunch of guys that have bought into what we’re coaching and what we’re teaching," Lollar said. "We’re trying to do what’s right in the community, and hopefully it translates onto the field."

Two faces Lollar won’t see are perhaps the two most productive and well-known offensive players in the team’s history, running back Darius Fudge and wide receiver Clinton Solomon.

Over the last two seasons, Fudge has combined for 1,509 all-purpose yards and 47 touchdowns.

"We won’t be able to replace Fudge," Lollar said. "He was a special player."

Former Butler and Nebraska running back Kenny Wilson, who saw limited time in 2011, will likely assume the starting job.

Solomon caught 158 passes and 49 touchdowns over the last two seasons but Lollar believes his production can be replaced. Wichita brought in Tim Simmons, who led the IFL with 110 catches last season, 31 more than the next highest total.

Returning quarterback Phil Staback will throw to Simmons and to former Friends receiver Doug Pierce, whom Lollar is also high on.

"There comes a time when you have to move on," Lollar said of replacing Fudge and Solomon. "You make changes, and you just hope that the guys you bring in can be just as productive as the guys who walked out."

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