When Force coach Paco Martinez answered the phone on Friday afternoon, he said he was “doing as well as I can.”
The Force’s 2-3 record isn’t disastrous, just unfamiliar. While incorporating several new players into a team that won the Champions Indoor Football League title last year, Martinez is experiencing some growing pains he’s rarely had to endure.
Each of the Force’s losses was by single digits, and two were by a combined five points. Wichita replaced its entire backfield and has several new defensive players to supplement a core that has been intact for the franchise’s three seasons.
“We’ve got three losses, which is uncommon for us,” Martinez said. “A couple years ago we dealt with some stuff, some injuries, and had five losses throughout the whole season. These three losses, they’ve all been close games, they’ve all been fixable mistakes. If three to five plays go in our favor, we win instead of lose.”
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The Force doesn’t appear to have a fatal flaw. It is ranked in the middle or toward the top of the league in most categories, even though there are no eye-catching statistics.
Martinez may be searching for an identity after replacing more than half of the team. New quarterback Jake Medlock has 17 touchdown passes and two interceptions.
The possibility for a turnaround – both of the Force’s wins are against Salina – probably rests on mainstays such as receivers Brett Soft and Clarence Anderson and defensive stalwarts Jason Catchings and Kendrick Harper, who leads the team with four interceptions.
“It’s just getting the new guys up to speed,” Martinez said. “This is as many new guys as we’ve had – we’ve got 14 new guys, basically. That’s quite a bit of the team. It’s just getting them to get on the same page. It’s nothing major, it’s not a leadership issue or an effort issue or anything like that.
“It’s just getting everybody on the same page and executing every single play, and getting all 24 guys to understand that every time you step on the field, your job is the most important job.”
A largely new roster gives the Force a new look at how it can best control games. Martinez hasn’t found that recipe yet, but he’s been close, just a possession away from breaking through in all three losses.
“It comes down to those three to five plays,” Martinez said. “Sometimes it was offense. In one game it was the offense; if we’d executed or caught a pass or made a block. In one game it was defense, if we could have knocked a ball down instead of it going off our hands into their hands.
“… It’s been all the way around. It’s not just one thing, offense or defense or however. It’s the whole team and that’s how we’ve taken it on, that we all have to do better.”
Kansas City at Force
- When: 7 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Intrust Bank Arena
- Records: KC 1-3, Force 2-3
- Radio: KFH, 1240-AM, 97.5-FM