Omaha at Wichita
When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday Where: Hartman Arena, Wichita, Kan.
Scouting the Beef: An efficient offense carried Omaha (4-0) to its 55-49 win against Lincoln a week ago as the Beef remained the only unbeaten team in the Champions Professional Indoor Football League. Running back RJ Rollins carried for a season-high 56 yards as Omaha topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time this year. Rollins, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, scored four touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving). Quarterback James McNear threw for only 138 yards, but five of his 15 completions went for touchdowns and he guided the offense to a 6-for-6 showing on third downs. It was the second time scoring 50-plus points for the Beef, who won their second one-score game in as many weeks. It was the first time this season that Omaha gave up more than 27 points, and the Haymakers exceeded that total less than two minutes into the second half. It was also the first time the Beef failed to force a turnover after registering 10 through three games.
Scouting the Wild: After winning its first four games of the season, Wichita fell two weeks ago to the same Kansas City team that Omaha beat in its season opener. The Wild (5-1) got back on track last weekend, jumping to a 23-3 lead and coasting to a 49-35 victory at Bloomington. All three phases of the game contributed to the win, with the defense registering a pair of safeties, special teams chipping in a kickoff return for a touchdown and two field goals, and the offense sealing it with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Quarterback Rocky Hinds, a veteran from UNLV, threw for four scores — two each to Tim Simmons and Joe Kassanavoid — around three interceptions. After throwing one pick in the first four games, Hinds has been intercepted five times in the last two. The Wild lead the league in both scoring offense (51 points per game) and scoring defense (29.5 ppg).
Quick triggers: There’s little doubt where Saturday’s game begins and ends: under center. McNear and Hinds are two of the best in the CPIFL, and their teams’ success usually depends on how they perform. McNear leads the league in total offense — the only player averaging more than 200 yards per game -— while Hinds is tops in offensive touchdowns. They are also 1-2 in yards per play, total yards, passing touchdowns and completions. With two more games this season, Hinds has the edge in most cumulative numbers, but McNear isn’t far behind. The Omaha quarterback trails Hinds by six touchdowns and 89 yards. Hinds, who started his college days at USC, signed with Omaha in 2010 before McNear, the franchise’s all-time leader in passing, returned to the team.
— Nick Rubek