Wichita scrambles to find its way to Tri-Cities

Tri-City HeraldJune 29, 2012 

The Wichita Wild started this week in Allen, Texas, where the team defeated the Allen Wranglers 43-40 in a first-round Indoor Football League playoff.

Because of that, the Wild has been in scramble mode ever since.

The team’s general manager John Blazek, had to figure out how to get his team to the Tri-Cities on short notice in time for tonight’s Intense Conference Championship against the Tri-Cities Fever.

Kickoff is 7:05 p.m. in the Toyota Center.

“When we won Monday night, my wife and I stayed up all night trying to find airline deals,” said Blazek, who was watching his team practice in the Toyota Center on Thursday. “That didn’t work so well. So then I thought I’d try to get a sleeper bus.”

He couldn’t get one of those, either.

Eventually, Blazek — with the help of the host Fever and the league — was able to get flights for all of his players and just two of the coaches. He said the Fever, as the host team, and the league contributed $13,500 for travel costs.

“Our volunteer coaches had to stay behind because tickets on such short notice were $1,200,” said Blazek.

Wild players were split up and sent out all over the Midwest to get to Seattle on Wednesday night.

“Some of these kids had to get up at 4 a.m. and drive the three hours to Kansas City to fly out,” said Blazek. “They were flying through Kansas City, Minneapolis, Dallas and Denver. And what’s great is our players didn’t say one word. Not one of them has complained about this.”

Blazek rented some vans, and the team made the drive from Seattle to Ellensburg before staying in a hotel there Wednesday night. They drove the remaining two hours on Thursday before practicing in the Toyota Center.

Wichita coach Morris Lolar has spent the short week trying to put a game plan together against the Fever.

And like Fever coach Adam Shackleford, he’s done it with little sleep.

“My father always told me sleep is for poor people,” Lolar said. “Tri-Cities hasn’t shown anything on film that we haven’t seen before. And it’s vice versa for them. We haven’t shown anything on film that they haven’t seen before.”

What’s been impressive for the Wild is that it has a 9-6 record this season, winning nine of its last 11 games, after getting off to an 0-4 start.

“And we lost three of them on the last play of the game,” said Blazek. “These kids have just battled all season. Our head coach is one of the most disciplined people I’ve ever met.”

Wichita rookie running back Tywon Hubbard said the young players have believed in themselves and Coach Lolar.

“Coach was saying at the beginning of the season that we have the potential to do this,” said Hubbard. “But that’s potential. We came together in the middle part of the season. After our 0-4 start, we wanted to make a statement so other teams would respect us.”

Misson accomplished.

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