Manhattan football takes State

Will Ivester, Sports Editor

At 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26, Manhattan High football won their first State championship since 1988, securing a 21-20 in a double overtime thriller after a failed 2-point conversion by Gardner Edgerton.

The Manhattan offense started off slow for the first half, punting on their first three drives and fumbling the ball on the fourth with zero first downs. Their defense showed up to this game wanting to win in the first quarter Manhattan forced Gardner to a punt and a forced fumble recovered by Manhattan.

During the second quarter, the defense allowed one touchdown from Gardner to go down 7-0 while forcing a fumble on their next drive. The Manhattan offense found some sparks near the end of the first quarter as senior Keenan Schartz completed a 19-yard pass to senior Jaxon Bowles to tie up the game 7-7 at the half.

“I told them that if they wanted to win they would have to work harder than [Gardner],” head coach Joe Schartz said 

During the third quarter, the offense could not keep the spark alive as their one drive in the third led to a punt. The defense allowed a touchdown in GEHS’s first possession of the half as they went down 14-7 with plenty of time left. The defense stopped Gardner on their next drive on a fourth down to give the offense a shot to tie the ballgame. 

GEHS started the fourth quarter strong with an interception, but only a few plays later senior Ben Irvine would force a fumble to get possession. Manhattan drove all the way down the field to the 1-yard line before turning the ball over on downs with seven minutes left to play. MHS would go on and force Gardener to punt with five minutes left to score. Manhattan finally lit the spark again as they drove all the way down the field for senior Jason Sanchez to punch the ball in from nine yards out to tie the game with four minutes left. Both teams would end the fourth quarter with a punt before entering overtime for the second time this year.

“Once we won the coin toss I had all the confidence that we would win,” Schartz said.

MHS got the best news of their life as they won the toss to go on defense first. GEHS started overtime on the 10-yard line with confidence that would soon fade. Gardner ran three plays to get down to one when the Gardener head coach Jesse Owen called a risky play to go for a fourth down, but the Manhattan defense was just too strong for Gardener to punch in a touchdown leaving Manhattan the win on the table. Manhattan ran three safe plays to not turn the ball over but would lose five costly yards. Manhattan sent out their kicking unit as senior Braxton Frey looked to finish the season as it started but a bad snap to the holder left the kick wide-right as they headed to second overtime.
MHS started on offense in the second overtime to try and seal the game away. Manhattan ran three plays down to the 2-yard line where coach Schartz made a risky call to go for it on fourth down. Manhattan ran a run-pass option and would pitch it outside to Jason Sanchez as he used all his might to punch the ball in for his second touchdown and give Manhattan their first lead of the game. The defense started off on the wrong foot in overtime as they allowed Gardner to score on their third play. Everyone thought GEHS would go for the extra point but went for a 2-point conversion to win it all. Gardner ran their most successful play on Manhattan but not this time as Manhattan would shove Gardner out of bounds inches away from the endzone to win their first state championship since 1988.

“I’m very proud of the kids for stepping up for every challenge that’s come their way,” Schartz said.