With no games for the past two weeks, Force players have taken out their competitiveness on each other.
That’s pleasing to coach Paco Martinez, who can recognize the difference between a spirited practice and aggression stemming from frustration.
The Force (3-4) lost its most recent indoor football game, on April 15 against Saturday’s opponent, Dodge City. The team took two weeks off but returned this week with a literal vengeance.
“We haven’t seen each other for two weeks,” Martinez said. “We haven’t gone against each other for two weeks. This week, what I saw from the defense, and even some trash talk from the offensive players was, ‘We’re going to get better,’ and getting that swagger back, that cockiness back.”
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Two of Wichita’s three losses have come against Dodge City, which is tied for the Champions Indoor Football League’s best record at 7-1. The difference between the teams appears to be on offense, where Dodge City has averaged 55 points, 13 more than the Force.
Dodge City also has proven adept at winning close games, with four wins by seven points or fewer while the Force’s first three losses were by 14 points combined. Since Dodge City was the Force’s most recent opponent, some of the intensity from practice has come with revenge in mind.
“That comes with the territory,” Martinez said. “Up until this season, Dodge City had never beaten us and now they’ve beaten us twice in a row. We’re defending champions, people forget about this, so we’re facing everybody at their best performances.
“Every time we play somebody, we’re getting their absolute best, and we’re going to be prepared for that again this week against Dodge City. Hopefully we’re up to the challenge.”
With a strong week of evidence, Martinez believes his team is not only ready for the challenge of the current week but for climbing back into a South Division race in which five teams have a better record.
That can’t be made up in a single week, but the Force has presented an attitude of new beginnings.
“The fire was back in a lot of our players,” Martinez said. “It was basically like a training camp mentality. This is a new season. We had a long stretch of games, we had some injuries, but now everybody’s body is fresh, they’re mentally prepared and they’re ready to go out and fight for a victory again.”
Dodge City at Force
- When: 7 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Intrust Bank Arena
- Records: Dodge City 7-1, Force 3-4
- Radio: KFH, 1240-AM, 97.5-FM