Familiar faces return as Wild season fades

06/04/2011 12:00 AM

06/04/2011 12:07 AM

As this ugly season winds down, there remain fewer and fewer reasons to maintain interest in the Wichita Wild, which, in the past two weeks, lost star attraction Jake Sharp to a higher league, suffered a 62- point shellacking and was eliminated from the Indoor Football League playoffs.

Standout receiver Clinton Solomon went so far as to call it a "wasted season."

All of which makes tonight the perfect time for the Nebraska Danger to come to town because, at the very least, the expansion team provides some level of intrigue.

Mike McCoy, who was fired by the Wild last August, is Nebraska's general manager. Prior to being let go by Wild owner Wink Hartman, McCoy had been involved with four indoor football franchises in Wichita for a total of 11 years.

McCoy, who plans to be in attendance tonight in Hartman Arena, said he is treating the game like any other, but his voice cracked a few times during a 15-minute interview, perhaps betraying his emotion.

"We're just gonna come down and play the best we can — which is hopefully well — and leave," he said. "Look, this isn't my first rodeo. I've been in arenas all over the country the past 12 years. I just know this one (Hartman) a little better than the other ones.

"I've got no hard feelings. I'm happy to be in Nebraska now, guiding this franchise."

In addition to the McCoy connection, Nebraska's starting quarterback is Dixie Wooten, who played for the Wild the previous two seasons. With McCoy as GM and Wooten at QB, the Wild reached the conference championship in 2009 and 2010.

The Wild offered Wooten a contract but he didn't want to return to Wichita, Wild general manager John Blazek said.

"I just really felt like we needed Dixie's veteran leadership to help this young team through the ups and downs," McCoy said. "He's very talented and an incredible young guy."

In March, Wooten threw five touchdown passes and ran for another score in Nebraska's 70-59 victory over the Wild in Grand Island.

"I was really impressed with how he played, but I told him it was gonna be a different story when he comes to Wichita," Solomon said.

Wild interim coach Morris Lolar said fans will see a slimmer, trimmer version of Wooten compared to his time in Wichita.

"It's a different Dixie. He's lost a lot of weight," Lolar said. "We've got to get some pressure on him. He's throwing the ball like 40 times a game, so we have to be ready for that."

Notes — Undefeated Sioux Falls beat the Wild 78-16 last week. "We got bombed," Lolar said. "You have to learn from it and move on."... Former Wild players Hurtis Chinn and Chris Patterson also play for Nebraska.... Wild QB Phil Staback, the fourth quarterback to start for the Wild this season, has nine interceptions and four touchdown passes in his past three games.

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