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Wichita East football: An offensive threat

By Joanna Chadwick

It’s all about the details for Wichita East coach Ene Akpan this season.

He’s well aware of just how much talent and experience he has with 10 returning starters on offense, but nothing will take his focus off details.

“The biggest thing is, when talent meets talent, talent isn’t enough,” he said. “We’ve got to work. The small things, the definition of the game, tackling, turnovers, finishing plays, not making penalties. It’s the little things that we need to be more disciplined on.”

If Akpan can get his team to trust his emphasis on practicing the right way every day, he believes they can go use that stellar offense to go farther in the postseason.

“You have to practice hard, tackle the right way, show up on time, hang onto the ball,” Akpan said. “That’s the process of winning… If you can do those things all season long, then I feel like we will beat the Manhattans and the Derbys because you understand what it takes to be a successful program.”

East’s talent starts with its speed.

“The biggest thing we have is team speed,” Akpan said. “We have a lot of guys who can run; that’s what we utilize. We want to put guys in space and in one-on-one matchups. Get off the ball quick. If your defense isn’t in shape, we’ll move, push the tempo.”

Senior quarterback Daeonte Mitchell, who the Aces call Paco, passed for nearly 6,000 yards in the past three seasons with 66 touchdowns.

“The biggest thing I saw in him last year was him knowing the plays rather than just waiting for the open man,” Akpan said. “He knew the process and what we needed.

“As a sophomore and freshman, he’d get into his shell and be very immature. But last year he started to grow up. He’d take accountability if he made a mistake.”

Mitchell has a strong arm and has been making big throws since his freshman season. He also has the ability to run the ball; he had 800 rushing yards as a junior.

East has speedy receivers who have good hands.

There’s senior MJ White, who had 800 receiving yards as a junior, as well as LT Robinson and Ashton White, also seniors.

“(MJ White) on film isn’t overly fast, but he’s so aggressive,” Akpan said. “He doesn’t wow you with his 40 or his vertical, but if you throw the ball up, he’ll go get it.”

Robinson uses his elusiveness to avoid tackles, and Akpan figures he’s going to win a one-on-one battle 90% of the time.

If opponents focus on stopping Mitchell and the passing game, senior running back Rayvelle Leak will make them pay.

Leak, who had 1,500 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior, has blazing speed. He ran a 10.87 in the 100 meters at the City League meet.

“He evades tacklers,” Akpan said. “But the biggest thing for him is Ray Ray runs hard. That’s what separates him from a lot of guys. When you have a fast kid, usually they don’t run hard; they avoid everyone.

“He’s a fast kid that is physical.”

Austin Folton (6-3, 340) anchors the offensive line.

“He’s very nimble, very elusive and he shows up every day ready to work,” Akpan said.

The defense returns four starters, including Dayontay Standifer, Porter Blanton, Shyne Jones and Cameron Davis.

“(Standifer) is another three-year starter,” Akpan said. “He’s big, physical, fast. Tell him something, and he’ll remember. He’ll line up for practice and call out what we’re running — he knows…. He’s a real leader.”

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