A Thursday Champions Indoor Football playoff game, even though it’s nearly two weeks after the Force last played, was the latest slight in what coach Paco Martinez calls a “season of disrespect.”
Martinez, who coached Wichita’s former franchise, the Wild, to consecutive league championships before that team folded after last season, feels the Force hasn’t been acknowledged for its pedigree even though most of the players are the same.
Playing a Thursday game against the Texas Revolution because of weekend conflicts at the Allen Event Center was initially received just as poorly.
“We find out on Sunday that we’re playing a Thursday (road) game, which is crap,” Martinez said. “That’s completely not appropriate for the playoffs. It changes guys’ availability for the game, it changes their availability for practice. It really just shortens everything, it really hamstrings us.
“Anger was the first reaction by everybody, including me, but I think we turned that into motivation.”
James McCartney, a Wichita defensive lineman, won’t play Thursday because he’s getting married this week. A couple other players may or may not have conflicts, Martinez said.
The motivation he speaks of, though, should be high. Many Force players are trying to win their third consecutive championship and Wichita is looking to avenge its worst loss of the season, a 48-21 defeat in Texas on April 11.
The Force was mired in a seemingly endless search for a permanent quarterback then, six weeks after Rocky Hinds was lost for the season due to injury. Three quarterbacks played following the loss to Texas before Wichita found and settled on Emmanuel Taylor.
Arriving in Wichita with no indoor football experience, Taylor went 3-1 and found his skills translated well to the indoor game. He’s an effective runner and threw 13 touchdowns in four games.
“I just came in to play my role,” Taylor said. “I didn’t know what position they would be in before I came, but I found out once I got here. The first game, they were trying for first place. So I just came in and tried to play my position the best I could.”
The Force last played in a 53-43 win at Omaha on May 30 that secured a playoff spot. It was Wichita’s sixth straight weekend with a game, so the players were instructed to spend a few days, mentally and physically, away from football.
While the Force was resting, Sioux City grabbed the top postseason seed by beating Dodge on a two-point conversion after faking a PAT. Had Dodge City won, Wichita would have won a four-way tiebreaker to earn home-field advantage for the playoffs.
Many Force players are used to difficult paths to championships. Hinds was injured in last season’s title game, and the uncertainty at quarterback has created plenty of adversity this year.
“I’m excited to see what the product is on the field,” Martinez said. “When we kick off, everything changes, so hopefully we can channel that anger into motivation and focus.”
Force at Texas
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
What: Champions Indoor Football semifinals
Where: Allen Event Center, Allen, Texas
Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM