Wichita Force

All signs point up for Wichita Wild

There were years when Wichita indoor football was truly an embarrassment — recall the Aviators, who played on a duct-taped field in an ice rink — but the Wild has achieved respectability, success and, apparently, some professional jealousy.

Other teams have called the Wild the "Dallas Cowboys of the Indoor Football League," coach Ken Matous said.

Matous stressed that he doesn't consider the Wild "America's Team," but he said the organization is very much headed in the right direction.

"We've got a great facility, great owner, good crowds," Matous said. "It's a place where people are treated fair and coached the right way. Other players around the league want to come play here. It wasn't like that three years ago."

In two years, Matous has transformed the Wild from mediocre-at-best into one of the best teams in the IFL.

For the second consecutive season, the Wild fell one win short of reaching the league championship game. Despite that disappointment, Wichita boasted several of the league's top players, won two home playoff games, and finished 11-6.

General manager Mike McCoy, who has been involved with indoor football in Wichita for the past 11 years, said that the 2010 Wild was the best team he has seen.

"It's been neat to watch this thing grow," he said.

Wide receiver Clinton Solomon, unstoppable in some games, established himself as the league's best receiver. Solomon, along with offensive lineman John Mobley and return man Randy Kelly, were named to the all-IFL first team.

Despite the positives, the Wild needs to improve on both lines next season if it is to win a title, Matous said.

The Wild was one of IFL's worst teams at sacking the quarterback, and when Colin Bryant left for personal reasons, the team was left without a big, pass-rushing presence.

And the offensive line, while it improved throughout the season, didn't protect quarterback Dixie Wooten well enough.

"He got hit an awful lot," Matous said. "We're lucky he's big and strong, or that would have taken its toll. At the same time, Dixie has to make quicker decisions so he isn't holding the ball as long."

Matous, a veteran coach with contacts all over the country, said he expects most of the team to return next season.

"But, like I tell the guys, I'm always going to try to go out and find someone to replace them with," he said. "That keeps guys motivated."