'From day one, we made it all or nothing': Salina Liberty have eyes on CIF championship

Dontra Matthews didn’t even wait to get back to the locker room after last year’s crushing Champions Bowl loss to the Omaha Beef before he began plotting for the 2022 Champions Indoor Football season.

The Salina Liberty had dominated the regular season and breezed into the Champions Bowl, only to lose, 40-39, on a blocked field goal with 12 seconds left.

“I was motivated since that block happened and I was in coach’s ear saying, ‘We need this person, this person and this person.’ We all feel the same way,” said Matthews, the Liberty’s veteran defensive back. “We’ve been getting closer and closer, and I feel the next step is to bring the trophy back to Salina.

“Everybody’s got the same mindset and that’s to win the championship.”

The Liberty, who lost the past two Champions Bowls by a total of seven points, kick off their 2022 season at 7:05 p.m. Saturday when they take on the expansion Topeka Tropics at Stormont Vail Events Center in Topeka. It will be the second game for the Tropics, who lost their CIF debut last Saturday at Sioux City, 52-18.

The CIF has grown to eight teams this year in six states — three in Kansas. Kansas entries Salina, Topeka and the Dodge City-based Southwest Kansas Storm are joined by the Omaha Beef (Nebraska), Wyoming Mustangs, Sioux City Bandits (Iowa), Billings Outlaws (Montana) and Rapid City Marshals (South Dakota).