WICHITA, Kan.—Heights has been a force in 6A for the past three years, as it has made an appearance in the past three state championship games and took home the title in 2010. This year’s group is looking to make it four in a row, but inexperience could prove to be an Achilles heel for the Falcons.
Coach: Rick Wheeler (103-34 in 13 years at Heights, 116-56 overall)
2011 Recap: Finished 12-1, lost in state championship game to Olathe South
Returning Starters: 2 Offense, 2 Defense
Key Returning Players: Chris Reed (WR), Justus Moreland (FS), Aderio Ammons (DL), Ricardo Gonzales (OL)
2012 District: @Wichita East, Wichita Southeast, Derby
The 2011, Heights’ offensive attacks was one of the most potent in the state, and it took the team all the way to the state championship game. The 2012 version, however, may not live up to the same production. The 2011 attack produced near astronomical numbers, though. On average, every time Heights threw the ball, the play would go for 13.4 yards. Every time it ran the ball, Heights would gain 8.4 yards. Almost every single play Heights ran in 2011 was a first down, so it would be understandable if Heights didn’t produce the same numbers as 2011.
Only two players return to the offensive squad so this will be one of, if not the youngest teams in the city. The players coming up onto the team have tasted the success of past year’s teams and want to earn it for themselves now. Heights made it to the state championship game the past three seasons, and it is clear this year’s squad wants to make it four.
The only returning starters are wide receiver Chris Reed and lineman Ricardo Gonzales. However, two other lettermen in Cristian Martinez and Dominique Calhoun join Gonzales on the offensive line. So although this is a young team, the line will not be completely inexperienced.
Toma King will step in at running back for the Falcons, taking in the steps of Dreamius Smith, Margquel Moore and Matt Reed. Reed was a quarterback, but had the speed, quickness and strength of a running back.
Heights’ defense will be one of the youngest in the state. Just two returning starters will hurt the Falcons. Where it lacks experience and maturity, Heights makes up for in quickness and athleticism. Much like the Heights defenses of years past, this group may not be the biggest, but it will be one of the quickest. Head Coach Rick Wheeler has always produced fast defenses, and it has worked fairly well for the Falcons over the past three years.
This group will see Justus Moreland and Aderio Ammons at free safety and defensive line return, respectively. Much like its offensive counterparts, the Heights defense will not see much experience returning at the beginning of the year, but the younger guys will get their feet under them soon enough and gain the necessary experience. Vincent Dixon is a returning letterman that will join Ammons on the line. Those two will be the leaders for this group.
ODDS AND ENDS:
Heights gets the season started with a Thursday night game at Carpenter Stadium against Bishop Carroll, one of the top teams in 5A. This will be a true test for the Falcons, and has the potential to be one of the games of the year in the state of Kansas. Both Wheeler and Carroll Head Coach Alan Schuckman run their teams with maximum efficiency, and both resemble college programs. It will be interesting to see how Heights fares in this game, as it could set the tone for the rest of the season.
Heights district features East, Southeast and Derby. The Panthers of Derby are expected to be one of the top teams in 6A and it will be the final game of the regular season for Heights. So the Falcons begin and end their season with tough games.