The Manchester football team got their season off to a similar start as they did a season ago, dominating the Green Bobcats early and often enroute to a 56-16 win to start the season 1-0.
The Manchester offense was on a completely different level from the Green defense as the game quickly became non-competitive, especially when the Greyhounds had the ball. The Greyhounds scored touchdowns on the first play on each of their first five possessions, not even seeing second down until late in the second quarter.
Manchester Head Coach Dustin Cook said it was a great start to his team’s season.
“Friday was a great way to start the season,” Cook said. “We were able to see a lot of positive things on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The offensive line did a great job on Friday night of winning the battle in the trenches. This is something that we have to be able to continue to get better at as the season goes to be playing our best football going forward.”
“To me it felt amazing,” junior running back Bryan Young said. “I felt like a bull out of the gates.”
Manchester did come out of the gates firing when senior quarterback Jordan Freeman hit senior wide receiver Sean Frost on a long touchdown pass on the first play of the game, but the play was called back for an illegal shift. So the Greyhounds were pushed back five yards and instead MHS ran a draw play to Young who took it the distance for the one-play, 75 yard drive.
The Greyhounds executed an onside kick afterwards and then completed a legal pass from Freeman to Frost on the first play of the drive again and the Greyhounds were up 14-0 just 52 seconds into the game.
Green was able to take some control of the game when they ran a six-play drive that took some time off the clock but ultimately ended in a turnover on downs, giving the MHS offense the ball back.
This time it was Freeman himself outrunning the entire defense on an 80-yard quarterback draw to give MHS a 20-0 lead with 7:05 in the first quarter.
With it so blatantly obvious to everyone in attendance at this point who was the better team, Young said his team stayed motivated by needing to reach team goals for the game set by the coaching staff.
“We stay focused as a team because we have to meet goals,” Young said. “Those goals are to play fast, play physical, play as a team, and come out with a win. We’re not selfish and play as one. You don’t take any breaks when you’re on the field, you go as hard as you can go for as long as you can go to benefit the team.”
After another Green turnover, MHS ran a screen pass to Young who again took it the distance 70 yards for a 26-0 lead with 2:53 left in the first quarter. Young said after the game that playing against the scout team in practice helped the offense know how to attack the Bobcats.
“Through the whole week we played against a scout team that used the same offense and defense as Green so we could get a feel on how it was going to be,” Young said. “We knew we had more of an advantage with the skill on our team. We’ve beaten them the past two years and they graduated most of their skill last year so we knew we had them beat. I knew we were going to win.”
The score reached 32-0 before the first quarter ended and another MHS touchdown before the half had the scoreboard reading 40-0 as the teams left the field for halftime. Green finally got on the scoreboard once the Manchester starters came off the field, scoring twice in the fourth quarter before the game came to and end with Manchester comfortably ahead by the final count 0f 56-16..
The one obvious area that the team would like to improve upon was penalties. The Greyhounds found themselves giving up yards on multiple occasions even though most of the time those yards were quickly gained back the next play on offense. Still, Cook would like to see that cleaned up from here on out.
“One thing that we need to clean up from Friday’s game is the mental mistakes and penalties,” Cook said. “We have to make sure that we are playing a clean game to ensure that we give ourselves the best chance to win.”
Up next for the Greyhounds is a home match up this Friday against the Portsmouth Notre Dame Titans who suffered an opening week loss to the Racine Southern Tornadoes 21-18.
Last year the Titans had their way with the Greyhounds, winning 34-6. In 2013 the score was similar with the Titans winning 56-8 and in 2012 it got particularly ugly as the Titans won 70-22.
But despite the history, Young thinks things might go differently this year.
“I give my team a chance, I love my team,” Young said. “We need to attack them on the corners. We aren’t going to to too much running up the middle because that’s what they want us to do.”
Cook said he needs his team to execute very well in order to have a chance this week.
“As always Notre Dame is a very well coached football team that is extremely physical and talented,” Cook said. “We are going to have to play very well on friday night to give ourselves a chance to win.”
That matchup with Notre Dame is set for this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Greyhound Stadium in Manchester.
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391 or firstname.lastname@example.org.