By Joanna Chadwick
During a span of four games, Wichita Collegiate football lost three times. The Spartans, which had opened the season 4-0, lost to Cheney, Andale and Clearwater.
They were respectable losses — the teams are a combined 23-4 — but frustrating nonetheless.
“We have a weird team,” Collegiate coach Troy Black said. “We started really good, got full of ourselves after going 4-0 and then didn’t play well. But we played some very good teams, too.”
Collegiate recovered in time, though, beating Halstead (8-1) 35-14 in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
The Spartans play at Cheney (9-0) on Friday. Cheney beat Collegiate 46-21 in Week 5.
“We felt we definitely matched up,” Black said of playing Halstead.
Black, a longtime assistant with the Spartans, is in his first season as Collegiate’s coach. The defensive coordinator, he has ratcheted up the intensity.
“We’ve changed the expectations, changed the mindset,” Black said. “They’ve done a great job of buying in. I’m with them in the weight room; I’m the strength coach. They’re with me 24-7. We’ve just kind of pushed them a little harder.”
After junior Michael Fair suffered a shoulder injury that worsened through the season, Nate Voegeli took over at quarterback, a position he last played as a freshman.
The offensive line with its four seniors is the strength of the Spartans. Connor Allen leads the way.
“He’s an absolute beast,” Black said. “Great football player. We play hard.”
Senior Aidan Walsh has been the primary running back.