Inexperienced team starts football season

Jacob Clanton, Print Editor-in-Chief

Football is back.

Manhattan High football gave fans their first taste of the team Thursday night during the annual soup scrimmage. While it serves as a practice, the scrimmage gives the Indians a chance to play under the lights at Bishop Stadium for the first time.

“It was a great experience,” senior Reece Wewer said. “It’s something we needed bad. During practice, you don’t get to go live all the time, you don’t get to play to the whistle, you’re trying to keep people healthy, so [it’s a] good experience to get everyone out here, just see how everyone’s doing.”

Though there was minimal special teams during the scrimmage, the field goal unit got some work in before hand. Senior kicker Thomas Gevock was perfect in two field goal and three extra point attempts, including a 40-yard kick.

“All of my kicks felt really good,” Gevock said. “I was having good contact and a follow through with good flight on the ball.”

The offense seemed just fine without the special teams, as it marched down the field on the opening drive. Nine runs and one pass later, senior Talon Claussen ran it in for a touchdown.

Claussen, one of the captains, is taking over the quarterback position this year.

“[I’ve] been really pleased,” head coach Joe Schartz said. “[Claussen’s] done a fine job. He has a great grasp of the offense, and he’s becoming more of a vocal leader. That was kind of a weak point of his, but he’s stepping up and very proud of him so far.”

Inexperienced starters is a trend for MHS this year. Many of last year’s starters were seniors.

“Rebuilding is going well,” Wewer said. “We got a lot of seniors on offense again this year, we got a few juniors that are stepping up for us right now, and you know, it’s just a process. We got to keep grinding and keep believing in each other.”

One major area Manhattan has to rebuild is the offensive line. All five starters last year were seniors.

“I think the offensive line is coming along a little bit,” Schartz said. “We do have several seniors up there mixed with a couple juniors and it’s kind of a work in progress, but I think the offensive line’s coming along. They’re going to have to jell in order for us to move the football.”

Defensively, the Indians are a bit better off, returning six starters.

“That does bring a lot of experience,” senior linebacker Nik Grubbs said, “which is what we need. That’s what we’re lacking a little bit this year, is like Friday night experience, and we’re going to need a lot of that just so people can know what to do and what to do in certain situations.”

Throughout the scrimmage, MHS struggled with a lack of enthusiasm.

“It was kind of uninspiring,” Schartz said. “Afterwards, I challenged some seniors a little bit to get a little more motivated and get a little more inspired. They seemed to be, if they’re not in the game, they seemed to be uninvolved and uninspired.”

The seniors know what they need to do to improve.

“We just got to get up there and like lead [the underclassmen],” Grubbs said, “and just start yelling from the sideline, just getting the sideline more involved in the game.”

The Indians open the regular season at Shawnee Heights Friday night. With the first game only a week away, Manhattan knows it needs to cram a lot into this week.

“We got to go a long way in a short time,” Schartz said, “If we can close the gap here in eight days, we’ll have a chance. If we can’t, we’ll have a slow start to the season.”

MHS is also looking to improve upon last year but knows it’s an uphill climb.

“I expect to do good things with the talent that we have,” Grubbs said, “but for us to improve from last year, we need to work really hard this year, as always.”