Wichita Collegiate's Bill Messamore never forgot his football coaching roots.
Messamore spent eight years as the defensive coordinator at Collegiate before taking over for Mike Gehrer, who resigned after the 2004 season.
There were questions about whether Messamore, a former offensive coordinator at Friends University, could keep the Spartans' high-octane offense going.
The Spartans have answered those questions.
Collegiate is averaging 46 points and is competing for the Class 3A title today against Marysville at Hutchinson's Gowans Stadium.
"There were some people who wondered if I could coach the offense because at Collegiate, people only knew me as a defensive guy," Messamore said. "They didn't know me from what I did at Friends. In fact, I've always been an offensive guy."
Messamore's ability to put together an offense is one of the reasons the Spartans are 13-0 and in the state title game for the first time since winning it all in 2000.
Wanting to utilize his athletic wide receivers, Messamore implemented a spread-option offense this season. Led by quarterback Blake Jablonski and receivers Tre Bailey and Brett LeMaster, it has accounted for 5,702 yards of offense — 3,631 in the passing game — and 76 touchdowns.
"This offense allows us to do a lot of things and lets us take advantage of our matchups," Jablonski said. "We might not be as big as the other teams in our class, but we found a way to win that works for us."
Though Messamore (44-10 at Collegiate) suggests that he's still an "offensive guy," Gehrer thinks that having served as a defensive coordinator has helped Messamore.
Gehrer returned to the Collegiate sideline this season as an assistant.
"He already had a good background, and as a defensive coordinator he got a chance to see what offense worked against certain defenses," Gehrer said. "He's done a great job. There aren't many people that are willing to spend the time to put things together like he does."
Collegiate is playing in its fourth state title game. The Spartans lost in 1993 and won titles in 1994 and 2000.
The Spartans have advanced to the playoffs five consecutive seasons under Messamore. They lost three straight first-round games before this season.
"It seemed like everyone thought we disappeared or that we couldn't play football anymore," Messamore said. "There was a lot of pressure, no doubt about that. We thought we had a team that could get out the first round last year, but we didn't. This group has played with a lot of heart."