Wichita Force

Force defense thrives during winning streak

Allowing 19, 27 or 30 points in an indoor football game often serves to highlight the difficulty of doing so.

The Force, though, has made a trend of stingy defensive performances. Fourth in Champions Indoor Football scoring defense at 42.4 points per game, Wichita has allowed fewer than that in four of its last five games.

In those games, all wins, the Force has averaged 33.8 points allowed. Wichita clinched the No. 1 seed in the playoffs with last week’s win over Sioux City and plays its regular-season finale on Saturday against Omaha at Intrust Bank Arena.

“The indoor game is created for scoring,” Force coach Paco Martinez said. “For a defense only to give up 19 and whatever we have been giving up as a defense, that tells you that you’re playing really well. How it’s been done is that guys have started executing.”

The Force was 4-2 in its first six games but allowed more than 42 points four times, including 74 and 58 in losses to Texas and Omaha in April.

Much of that time was spent trying to regroup following an early season-ending injuries to defensive backs Kiaree Daniels. Six weeks after Daniels was hurt, cornerback Evan Ray was also lost due to injury.

By then, the Force had become well-oiled thanks to a philosophy from defensive coordinator Rod Miller that values and tailors toward each player’s strengths. Miller’s strategies were best displayed when the Force defeated Sioux City 23-19 on May 14.

“Now we’ve got everybody in the right position and everyone is really settling into their role,” Martinez said. “That’s the biggest thing with coach Miller’s defense, that once you know your role and you understand what you’re supposed to do, everything is going to work out really well. That’s what’s been happening.”

So have turnovers – many of them. Takeaways are a necessity to allowing few points in indoor football because teams are often in field goal range when drives begin.

In the Force’s last five wins, it has 10 interceptions, four defensive touchdowns, three special-teams touchdowns, two fumble recoveries and a safety. Against Amarillo two weeks ago, the Force scored three times while not on offense.

“All they do is put pressure on teams,” Martinez said. “That’s what’s happening with turnovers right now. You can hold off the pressure for a couple of quarters, but eventually that pressure is going to wear on you.

“The offensive line is going to wear down, our defensive line is going to get pressure and the quarterback is going to be throwing up balls for our (defensive backs) to pick off.”

Omaha at Force

  • When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Intrust Bank Arena
  • Records: Omaha 7-4, Force 9-2
  • Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM