By TYLER HENRY
Lead Sportswriter - Salina Post
On Monday, the Salina Liberty announced that Sam Sellers, former long-time head football coach at Salina South, had been named as the team's new General Manager.
Sellers replaces a Liberty legend in Francis Flax, who oversaw the recent golden age of Salina football, including a CIF title in 2022, before retiring this offseason.
The new GM will be tasked with a big challenge, as the Liberty join the newly reformed Arena Football League, which will feature 16 teams spanning from Oregon to New York.
While big challenges undoubtedly lie ahead, Sellers is ready to meet those head-on, as Salina looks to take its championship-caliber brand of football to the biggest stage imaginable.
“Joining the AFL is such a big opportunity,” Sellers said. “It’s the highest level of indoor sports and there are some big-time people involved with this thing. The season opener will be played on NFL Network, there’s a lot of brand recognition, and there are a lot of great things that haven’t even been made public yet. What an unbelievable opportunity for the city of Salina to be able to showcase this town and show people what we’re about.”
While a GM role at this level would be attractive to anyone, Sellers is looking forward to remaining in a place that’s become synonymous with home over several decades of service on the gridiron.
“We took some time to step back and think about things but we love raising our family here in Salina,” he said. “I think the world of guys like Dan Mendicina and Coach Flax, and what really stuck out in our meeting was just how important this community is to our ownership group.”
The new move has also excited head coach Heron O’Neal, who will remain in control of football operations as the Liberty look to continue their winning ways.
“I am very excited that Sam has been hired as GM,” O’Neal said. “He is well-known in our community, and I think he will bring in different fans and sponsors with his background. Sam and I have already begun matching wits to produce a great product for Salina and the surrounding area, and with him in charge of the business and myself in charge of the football I know Liberty Nation is in great hands.”
While the stage the Liberty will play on has changed, the expectations have not, and Salina will look to pick up right where they left off when the season gets underway this spring.
“For the last four years, this team has been in the CIF championship game and they’re all about winning,” Sellers said. “Talking to Coach O’Neal that’s a huge thing for everyone in the organization. It’s a big jump but with a guy like that leading this team and with the guys he’s bringing in we’re excited for the opportunity and our goal is to play in the Arena Bowl and compete for a championship even in year one.”
Salina opens their 2024 campaign on Sunday, April 28th in Salina at Tony's Pizza Event Center.