Wichita Collegiate trio eyes football success

By Joanna Chadwick

Wichita Collegiate advanced to the Class 3A semifinals in 2020. While that kind of success occurs because of an entire team, three players to watch are junior Wesley Fair, senior Drew Charbonneau and senior Jack Duarte.

Junior Wesley Fair had never played quarterback before last season. A series of unforeseen circumstances thrust him into the position, and he embraced it.

“I think we’ll throw a lot more this year,” he said. “Last year I got thrown into quarterback, and my arm wasn’t that good…. I got a lot thrown at me. I hadn’t even thrown a ball or anything before. The toughest thing was staying relaxed and not getting wound up.”

Fair, who is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, was solid in the passing game, but he used his speed and strength to fluster teams with his run game.

He’s getting college scholarship looks for defense, though, where he plays safety. The position actually helps him at quarterback.

“Being a safety I like to read the quarterback to see where he’s looking,” Fair said. “On offense, I need to look off the safeties because I know they’re looking at me.”

Senior Drew Charbonneau

Charbonneau, who is 5-11, 205, is a four-year starter at linebacker.

“I think it’s just fun being able to be around the ball all the time and make the plays I can. I think it’s fun leading the guys on defense,” he said. “You’re the quarterback of the defense.”

A key to Charbonneau’s game is his physicality and toughness.

“I get a lot of one-on-one plays because the people around me help me so much,” he said. “But you need to be tough and physical because you’re going up against the big boys on the line and you have to be able to play with them. And then sometimes, you have to cover the running back or the tight end.”

It helps that there’s solid chemistry on the defense.

“We’re all having a good time, we’re all super close,” said Charbonneau, who also plays football. “We like to run and hit and we don’t really back down from anything.”

As for personal goals, Charbonneau shrugged them off.

“I just want to win,” he said.

Senior Jack Duarte

Duarte was a longtime soccer player who always wanted to play football.

“My mom didn’t let me because of the tackling aspect and maybe getting a concussion,” said Duarte, who also plays basketball. “But I wanted to be a part of the team. All my friends were on it. I wanted to find a way to participate, so my mom told me I could kick.”

He started working on kicking during the winter of his freshman year. He’s got the leg strength from soccer, and he puts in the work.

He hit a 50-yard field goal at the end of the first half against Hesston with the score tied at 0-0. He is getting looks from colleges at all levels.

“Kicking is 90% technique and consistency, and doing the same things over and over again,” Duarte said. “I put a lot of hours into it. That’s why I separated myself.”

Duarte kicks 3-4 times a week, taking videos to send to coaches in order to review his technique. He does daily exercises to build leg strength, leg speed, hip mobility and leg extension.

“It’s a mix of weights, stretching and a lot of explosive drills,” he said. “Jumping and learning to sync your hips and open your hips and extend through. I do a lot of band work, too.”

He does get a little bored in practice.

“I started just kicking, and I loved it. I was good at it. In practice, you get a little bored, so I took up being a receiver,” Duarte said. “I did that a little bit last year. I hope to play a lot this year.

“It was tough to get my mom on board, but it was a good building step to get me there.

“Kicking is what I want to do in the future. I like the pressure of kicking. I like being the start on the field, even if it’s just a moment or a second. It gives me my time to shine.”