Manhattan rises to first in state

Will Ivester, Sports Editor

For the first time in recent memory, the Manhattan High Indians are ranked first in state in football after a strong start with a 3-0 record to begin the season.

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Manhattan started their season at Derby, a team MHS has met in playoffs multiple times in recent years. Manhattan started out very strong against the Panthers, taking the first half 15-7 at the half. MHS slowed down in the second half, allowing Derby to take the lead 23-15 going into the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Keenan Schartz quickly led the Indians down the field to tie the game 23-23. With only four minutes left in the game Derby went down the field in an attempt to set up and seal the game with a field goal, but the Derby kicker shanked the kick to the left, sending them to overtime. 

Manhattan won the coin flip and decided to take defense first. They stopped Derby and made them setup for a kick to take the lead but junior Ian McNabb had other plans as he blocked the kick to keep the game tied.

“We knew it would be a marathon, not a sprint,” head coach Joe Schartz said.

In their turn with the ball all MHS needed was a field goal to win. Derby stopped Manhattan and forced them to kick a field goal to win the game.

“My head was clear. I didn’t hear any other noise, I was just focused on hitting it straight through the upright,” senior Braxton Frey said of the kick, “and thinking about beating Derby.”

Frey’s kick won the game for MHS 26-23 in an unforgettable night for him and his teammates.

The next week Manhattan put on a show for the hometown fans against Topeka High at Bishop Stadium. 

“We were all looking forward to coming out of that tunnel to play in front of our fans,” Keenan Schartz said.

MHS was all business this game, scoring 42 points and allowing 0 going into half time. The Indians proceeded to score 10 more points before allowing Topekas only touchdown of the game to make the game 52-7 going into the fourth. In the fourth Sophomore Jaydin Hudley made his Varsity game debut and ended up running it in from the three-yard line to finish off the game and finalize the score 59-7.

“It’s a really special place to play and I’m proud of our team for embracing the pressure of playing at home in front of all our fans,” Keenan said.

The road game to Hays High last week started a little slower for Manhattan. Hays started off strong with their first drive being a touchdown putting MHS down six. The Indians quickly responded with a passing touchdown to senior Jaxon Bowles to make the game 7-6 and to take the lead. Hays came back down the field near the end of the half to score a touchdown and make the score 14-7. Manhattan made it back down the field with little time and took a field goal to stay within four going into the half. For the first time all year Manhattan was trailing at the half and they were looking rough.

Manhattan came out of the locker room looking ready to play in the second half as they connected on three straight touchdowns to start the half, making the score 31-14 with 10 minutes left in the game. Hays led their team down field in the final minute to score and make the final score 31-21.

“We’ve handled it well this year,” coach Schartz said, “and I’m very proud of the kids and them stepping up to every challenge that’s come their way.” 

MHS is at home at 7 p.m. this Friday against Washburn Rural.

“We spend a tremendous amount of time watching film and preparing for our opponents,” Keenan said, “and I think that’s why we’re more successful than others.”