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New league seems perfect fit for Wichita Wild

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, May 10, 2013, at 7:03 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, May 11, 2013, at 7:17 a.m.

Salina at Wild

When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday

Where: Hartman Arena

Records: Oklahoma 5-2, Wild 8-1

Radio: KGSO, 1410-AM

The evidence points to an inferior league helping the Wild suddenly become an indoor football powerhouse, but it might have just as much to do with continuity.

Advancing to the conference championship game of the Indoor Football League last season after an 0-4 start told Wild coach Morris Lolar he had the right players to contend for a championship no matter the league.

Wichita has found little competition so far in the Champions Indoor Football League this season, where the Wild will put its 8-1 record on the line Saturday night against Salina at Hartman Arena.

The Wild changed its quarterback during the offseason, picking up accomplished indoor player Rocky Hinds, but many of the most productive players remain in tact, allowing Wichita to flourish in a different style of game from many indoor teams.

"The core guys that we brought back — the Matt Mosses, the Kendrick Harpers, the James McCartneys — when you get those guys back, now they know the game," Lolar said. "They understand what we want from them, they understand what’s going to be successful in this league.

"When you get those guys to come back for you, all of a sudden you have a veteran group on the defensive side that’s really getting after it, really attacking offenses."

Defensive linemen McCartney and Moss are Nos. 1 and 2 in the CPIFL in sacks, and Harper leads the league in interceptions largely because Wichita’s pass rush forces quarterbacks into quick decisions.

That aspect of the game is something Wichita does differently — and better — than other indoor teams. The Wild also runs the football more than other teams, giving it a balanced offense when combined with the dual-threat capabilities of Hinds.

Those players produced a long winning streak to get Wichita to the conference finals last season and has been thoroughly dominant this year. The Wild’s eight wins have come by an average of 35.5 points, a 25-point increase on their eight margins of victory a year ago.

"To be quite honest, I think (the leagues are equal)," Lolar said. "… For the most part, it’s not a matter of some of these teams being bad. I think that we’re a pretty good football team right now, and I don’t think we’re even close to the ceiling yet."

Three teams, including Wichita, left the IFL for the CPIFL, but those teams — including Omaha and Bloomington — finished a combined 24-18 during last year’s regular season.

The Wild has won its last two games by 73 and 66 points and have won four others by at least 19; last season, five of the eight wins came by single digits.

With such ease in handling opponents, it can be hard for Lolar to measure improvement. He says it’s happening, though, as the team continues to blend during many of the players’ second or third years together.

"It’s just watching film and seeing how many mistakes we’re still making or we’re not making," Lolar said. "Anytime that you can get the talent that we have here, it’s just getting those guys to mesh together and play together."

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