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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wild begins home schedule with another tough opponent

By Jeffrey Lutz
The Wichita Eagle

The Wild wouldn't turn down an inflated early-season record earned by picking apart lower-quality opponent.

Wichita's Indoor Football League team prefers a test and an indication after two or three games of how good it is, not five or six.

The Wild's first three games will answer several questions. After losing the season opener to ex-NFL star wide receiver Terrell Owens and the Allen Wranglers, and last week to another preseason favorite in Omaha, Wichita begins the home portion of the schedule Friday against defending IFL champion Sioux Falls.

Another game with Allen looms after that, so by the end of March the Wild should know if it is a contender.

"It's a good and bad thing," Wild coach Morris Lolar said. "When you could very well start the season 0-3, that's the bad of it. The good of it is that it's a great measuring stick. What better way to measure yourself against the top talent in the league?"

Sioux Falls will likely provide Wichita with a greater challenge than the Wild faced against Allen and Omaha.

Even with the frequent roster turnover that occurs in the league, the Storm are loaded for a title defense. In its first game, it scored 73 points and showed an unparalleled balance by passing for 286 yards and rushing for 81.

In a 30-point win, the Storm allowed 160 total yards.

"I really like this game coming in with Sioux Falls," Lolar said. "I don't like the way that they have a bye week right before us, but I'll take it the way that it is. It's early in the season and we have played against at least two of the favorite teams to play in the championship game."

A difficult schedule allows Lolar to more quickly and accurately evaluate his personnel. If players were productive against lower-level opponents, a false sense of security could be gained and Lolar might be hesitant to make moves.

Against opponents such as Sioux Falls, Allen, and Omaha, a player's true talent level will surely be exposed. Lolar allows for adjustment from players not used to the indoor game and doesn't naturally possess a quick trigger finger, but by the end of the month he'll know what he has.

One area in which Lolar is particularly confident is the defensive line. Wichita has allowed a reasonable 88 points through two games, consistently putting pressure on quarterbacks and exhibiting noticeable growth, according to Lolar.

Such growth must be evident in all facets for Wichita to make progress against another quality opponent.

"If we go out this week and fall flat on our faces, now I know," Lolar said. "I can look at that film and say that we're not good enough to compete for a championship."

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