High School Sports

Wichita Wild players turn to coaching in offseason

A few Wichita Wild players have temporarily traded in their black and orange helmets for headsets. All-Indoor Football League receiver Clinton Solomon and Wild safety Chris Patterson have been busy preparing Wichita East receivers and defensive backs for their game against Northwest tonight at Heights.

"They're young. They've played professionally. They've played Division I football," East coach Brian Byers said. "So when they say what it takes to play at that level or what you have to do, kids listen. When it come to us older guys, I think that they think we make some of that stuff up when we tell them how hard they have to work."

Solomon played at Iowa and had brief stints in training camps with the Chicago Bears and the St. Louis Rams before joining the Wild. At 6-foot-4, he's been able to relate to the size that East is working with at the position with heights ranging from 6-2 to 6-5. The experience has also been a growing process for Solomon, who has been more involved with the program this season after volunteering his time last fall.

"Coach Byers has given me a lot of leeway this year," Solomon said. "He respects my decisions because he knows I've been around and know what I'm talking about when it comes to certain things. He knows I will coach theses boys up right, give them the right details to the game and have them ready to play on Friday nights."

Solomon said he would pursue coaching as a career after his playing days.

Going for 100 — Garden Plain coach Todd Puetz is a little embarrassed by the attention surrounding him as he sits at 99 victories heading into tonight's game at Douglass.

"I think this means something to the community and the kids that I coached and my coaches," said Puetz, who is in his 10th season at Garden Plain. "Every kid I coached helped us get to the 100th win, and all the coaches I've had, too. And the community, it says a lot about them when you can reach that."

But Puetz isn't coaching for accolades.

"Coaching is something I've always wanted to do," Puetz said."... When I played and you did well and had a good game, you got an adrenaline rush. Now I get that when I see the kids do really well."

A happy ending — Haven coach Shane Seeley was thrilled to see his team beat Belle Plaine on Monday night, a game that was suspended from Friday. The win ended Haven's 17-game losing streak.

"Getting the win helps a lot and it helps the kids believe in what you're saying," Seeley said.

There wasn't much time to enjoy it, though.

"The kids celebrated, and the coaches celebrated," Seeley said. "But it was a Monday night and after the game, half had to play the JV game and we had to turn around and get ready for Lyons the next day."

It's the third major losing streak to end this season. Kingman beat Haven in the season opener to end its 23-game losing streak, and Parsons beat Iola last week to end a 21-game streak.

Defensive adjustment — Andale was concerned about its defense, which gave up 415 yards in a 46-21 win over Mulvane last week.

"A lot of credit goes to Mulvane," Andale coach Gary O'Hair said. "We were overthinking things a little bit and we didn't play as fast. It's something we've worked on this week."

Andale plays host to Rose Hill tonight — Andale is 5-0 against the Rockets since 2006 and has won by nearly 20 points per game — and it will see a similar offense.

"They'll do things like Mulvane," O'Hair said. "We're trying to simplify things. When you feel like your kids are playing confused or not as fast, you assume things are too complicated.... We want them to go out and have fun and play fast."

Thunderbird defense leads the way — Circle has used a dominating defense to win its first two games. Led by safety Alex Gardinier and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, the Thunderbirds have allowed seven points in two games against Valley Center and Maize South.

Circle coach Lee LaMunyon expects his players to stick to their assignments and be disciplined, while executing his aggressive play calls. They have, and it has led to turnovers. Gardinier had two interceptions against Maize South.

"Momentum wins games or can change games," Phillips said. "Every time we get a big stop or a turnover, we can feel the momentum shifting in our favor."

LaMunyon knows his defensive approach can come with a price. But so far the blitzing and pressing has paid dividends.

"I'm a very aggressive defensive person, which can hurt you at times too," LaMunyon said." You've got to make the right choices at the right time. You have to know when to hold them and know when to walk away."

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