STATE BOUND: Manhattan captures sub-state title with comeback win vs Derby

Advith Natarajan, Senior Staff Writer

For the first time since 2001, Manhattan has qualified for the State football championship with the second win over Derby High School this season. The 28-13 win also marks the first state championship appearance under Coach Schartz. 

Derby came out of the gates blazing, scoring two touchdowns in the first half and dominating both sides of the ball. MHS was able to find the endzone once courtesy of an Auckland touchdown. A Derby field goal to end the half left MHS in a 9 point deficit heading into the break. 

“Offensively, we really struggled to get first downs and find something that would work,” head coach Joe Schartz said.  “…they were playing a little more faster and more physical than us at the time.”

Facing a 16-7 deficit going into the second half, Manhattan needed a spark. Luckily, just a few minutes into the third quarter, the Indians got this spark from linebacker Ben Irvine, who intercepted a pass from Derby quarterback Braxton Clark, returning it to Derby’s two yard line. Senior running back Deandre Auckland then scored, cutting the Derby lead to two. 

“[Irvine’s interception] was really huge,” senior cornerback Dante Walters said. “It really boosted up our confidence when we got that, and then we punched the ball right in [to the endzone] and we knew we could take it from there.”

However, after Derby’s initial success on offense and defense, Manhattan adjusted on both sides of the ball and shut down Derby for the rest of the game. The stout MHS defense held highly touted senior running back Dylan Edwards to only 3.8 yards per carry. The offense came alive in the second half after Irvine’s interception. Auckland added two more scores, giving MHS a 21-16 lead in the fourth quarter. The Indians sealed the game with an emphatic rushing touchdown by senior quarterback Keenan Schartz. Derby would go on to score one more touchdown with minimal time remaining, giving Manhattan the 28-23 win. 

“Absolutely happy and very proud of the kids and the coaching staff,” Coach Schartz said.  “A lot of hard work goes into a season like this and this victory is well deserved.”

The Indians will face Gardner Edgerton in the State championship game at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26, at Emporia State University.