Wichita Force coach Paco Martinez had recruited quarterback Jake Medlock for two years.
When Medlock signed on Oct. 24 from the German Football League, he showed Martinez and the rest of the coaching staff his ability to work his way into the offensive system.
After proving himself in training camp, Medlock was named the starter for the team’s season opener against the Salina Liberty. Leading the Force to a 55-43 win in Salina, Medlock completed 16 of 22 passes for 186 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.
“Jake is just a rare talent,” Martinez said. “I recruited for two years and finally he responded to me this year and I’m so thankful that he’s here. He did a great job coming into camp. He won the starting job and in (Sunday’s) game he really stepped up and was a leader.”
Medlock has had to build chemistry with veteran wide receivers Clarence Anderson and Brett Soft, the team’s leaders in receiving yards from last season. They combined for 114 receptions and 1,233 yards last season.
One of the Force’s newest receivers, Chris Anderson, has proven that he is able to contribute to Wichita’s high-powered offense. The Valdosta State alum caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Medlock in Sunday’s win, finishing the game with 51 receiving yards.
“We just try to use as much time in practice to get our chemistry together as a receiving core with the quarterbacks,” Chris Anderson said. “We go to practice a little early to get the timing down, making sure we got everything on point so come Saturday (against Dodge City), we won’t have any miscues.”
While most of the Force’s offense is consisted of passing, indoor veteran Tyler Batts gives the Force a hard-hitting running back. Batts rushed for 56 yards and scored two touchdowns in Sunday’s win.
The Force return 10 players from the 2016 CIF championship roster with 14 newcomers.
“Paco’s done a great job of teaching (the offense) to us and making it real simple,” Medlock said. “With the vets that came back, they’re helping us out. The way that we’ve worked together and have a connection is great. There’s going to be some scary things that happen this year with us.”
The Force have had to groom an almost completely new defensive line in their system, with Kansas State alum Chaquil Reed being the only returning veteran. New members of the defense, however, stepped up into a spotlight and made key plays down the stretch in Salina.
Rookie Kennen Gibbs, from Toledo, recorded a sack and added another tackle. Reed sacked the quarterback twice and made four total tackles.
“We’re basically a whole new defensive line and I think they did really well for their first action,” Martinez said. “It’s a learning curve. They weren’t perfect. But I saw the basis for building a good, solid defensive line.”
After winning the CIF championship a year ago, the Force are now the hunted instead of the hunters of the league. Medlock said that he embraces that mindset and that his team will be tough to beat when all the pistons are firing.
“I like being the one that people are coming after, because that means that this organization is doing something right,” Medlock said. “People are going to come and really bring their A-game to beat us.”
Dodge City at Force
- When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Intrust Bank Arena
- Records: DC 1-0, Wichita 1-0
- Radio: 1240-AM, 98.7-FM