By Joanna Chadwick
In Ene Akpan’s second season coaching the Aces, he wanted a staff that would be able to relate to the players and help them reach the next level.
Wow, did Akpan do just that.
Former NFL players Bryce Brown and Dreamius Smith are assistant coaches at East. Brown, one of the state’s best running backs ever, is an East graduate, who had 7,209 rushing yards in four seasons. Smith helped lead Heights to the 2010 Class 6A football title and also won three 6A basketball titles.
Then there’s Odell Bell, a top City League running back, who graduated from Northwest in 2004. Chaquil Reed and Jason Bennett are East alums. James Coleman and Andrew Curtis aren’t from the area, but they played college ball.
“We’ve got a ton of Wichita guys,” Akpan said. “We know what a lot of our kids go through on a day-to-day basis. They’re from here…. We’ve been through it from players to coaches. We can relate to the players, and we played at a high level — that helps tremendously in knowing how to prepare them.”
While East opened with a loss at Goddard, there were some high points.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Hughes had more than 200 passing yards, most of them to junior wide receiver Daylan Jones, who is back playing football for the first time since seventh grade.
“I honestly think we can compete for the City League title with the talent we have,” Akpan said.
East (0-1) plays at Northwest (1-0) on Thursday, it’s second straight Thursday game.
Sept. 20, vs. Kapaun
Sept. 26, vs. South
Oct. 4, vs. North
Oct. 11, vs. Liberal
Oct. 18, vs. Southeast
Oct. 25, vs. West