Wichita Wild promises change

04/16/2011 12:00 AM

04/16/2011 12:21 AM

The Indoor Football League has three winless teams, and two — the Wichita Wild and the Amarillo Venom — will play tonight.

It's not exactly game of the week material.

Even so, the matchup will feature, at the very least, a curiosity factor as the Morris Lolar era begins at Hartman Arena.

In owner Wink Hartman's latest housecleaning move — general manager Mike McCoy was fired in August — coach Ken Matous was fired Monday. The veteran Matous had led the Wild to two consecutive IFL conference championship games, but inconsistent line and quarterback play contributed to an 0-5 start.

Lolar, a rookie head coach, has been charged by new GM John Blazek with improving "structure" and toughness. Improvements in those areas might be tough to gauge, but a couple changes should be evident tonight when the Venom (0-6 in the Intense Conference) meets the Wild (0-5 in the United Conference) at 7:05.

Former Kansas star Jake Sharp has been a non-factor — a surprising development that Lolar hopes to remedy. Beginning tonight, Sharp will return kickoffs and get a few more carries at running back.

"When he gets his shoulders square, he hits it (the hole), and he's gone," said Lolar, a former standout defensive back at Friends. "We definitely need a little more of that. He gives us another dynamic."

Lolar, while looking for an experienced quarterback, also plans to return to rookie Shane Mascarenas at the unsettled position. Mascarenas has completed 56 percent of his passes, but he has thrown five interceptions to nine touchdown passes. Most of the picks have been the result of underthrown passes.

Lolar thinks that Mascarenas' numbers will improve with a change in systems.

"We are gonna have him doing some things that are his strengths — sitting back in the pocket is not his strength because the kid is stretching it to be (5-foot-10)," Lolar said. "We want to get him out in space and make those big defensive linemen chase after him.

"I think he has a good-enough arm. We just have to put him in positions where he can be successful."

The Wild is 14th in the IFL in offense (38.2 points) and 18th in passing yardage. While Lolar's specialty is defense, he expects those offensive numbers to improve, along with the entertainment level at Hartman.

"I hope the offense is gonna be a lot more exciting; it's definitely not going to be as conservative," he said. "We're gonna try and throw the ball deep, try to put some points on the board."

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