August 20, 2010
If any trend has been identified in the City League over the years, it’s that Wichita pumps out elite tailback talent. In recent years, Bryce Brown, Demarcus Robinson and Joseph Randle have inked Division 1 deals.
The talent at tailback isn’t as deep in 2010, but the heir to the running back throne in Wichita is Heights’ Dreamius Smith, a 205-pound power back with 4.4-second 40 speed. Smith returns for his senior season after racking up 1,426 rushing yards in 2009 and receiving a scholarship offer from Kansas University, to whom he committed in March.
“Dreamius is a special kid because he can get those real tough yards for us running the ball up the middle, but he is also a guy we can toss the ball to,” says Wheeler. “He’s got a great inside running game and he’s got great speed.”
Smith is the centerpiece in Heights’ drive to return to the state title game. “It feels like unfinished business to them,” Wheeler says. “This is my 12th year and you can look back at all the little steps that we’ve taken, from just being competitive to competing at the league level to now, competing for a state title.”
Mark the Falcons down as the early contenders for league and state titles with talent at the skill positions and core pieces of a stingy defense returning.
Heights’ strongest unit will be its defensive line, where Zerrance Brickhouse and Dominique Henderson will get around the end with Justin Reynolds plugging up the middle. Devon Haynes returns at linebacker and Kenny Washington and Evan Wessel form a strong pass defense.
“We’re expecting to be (the best), really,” Wheeler says. “Last year we had all of those guys starting last year. This year we’re a little bigger, stronger and faster.”
Wheeler is admittedly a conservative play caller on offense, usually keeping the ball on the ground. The effectiveness of the Falcons’ deliberate offense depends largely on the growth on the offensive line, which returns no starters.
Heights returns more quarterbacks and offensive linemen. John Moreland, the starter last season before an injury in district play, and Matt Reed, who sparked the Falcons, may share the job.
“We want both of those guys on the field,” Wheeler says. “But right now I don’t know how it will pan out.”
Wheeler is confident this year’s team will be ready at the start. “I really don’t think they understood the speed of Friday nights and how to prepare the way they needed to prepare,” Wheeler says of last season’s slow start. “I think they got it down now. It was a well-learned lesson.”