Indians bounce back to beat Washburn

John Ostermann, Online Editor-in-Chief

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As the students piled into the stands, the parents set their seatbacks up, and the Indians began their pre game warmups, there was a different vibe on the field. The football team has had this game marked on their calendar since last season, when Washburn Rural beat the Indians in their second round playoff bout.

“A lot of the guys that played last year had a big chip on their shoulder from that game,” Senior defensive back Jalin Harper said. “It really meant a lot to win and we were just fighting a lot harder because of that.”

Manhattan got its redemption this time beating Washburn Rural 31-7.

MHS looked settled as it came out and received the ball on their first kickoff, and this was reflected on their first drive.

The Indians stormed out of the gates led by junior Kevontae McDonald’s strong running. Manhattan handed McDonald the ball on five of its first eight plays. Senior Talon Claussen closed off the drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to fellow senior Reece Wewer. Claussen settled in against Washburn, completing five of his 10 attempts for 95 yards and a touchdown.

“Having had that one game under my belt and already being through that stressful situation really helped me,” Claussen said. “[I] was more used to being out there and I just relaxed. I was going to play, just have fun.”

The Indians’ play style seemed to be different this game as the offense ran a lot more plays out of a spread formation.

“Spread really helps with our play style,” Claussen said. “We aren’t very big so spreading things out gives us a better chance to play to our strengths. It helps set the mood for our team to do better.”

The Indians defense was not to be shown up by the offense on Friday. Senior Nik Grubbs led the charge for the defense, sacking Washburn’s junior quarterback Jordan White 2.5 times.

“We just called our blitz calls and it just so happened that they were passing and it worked out a lot,” Grubbs said.

Early in the second quarter, Grubbs came off the right end untouched and clobbered White as he faked a run and turned to pass.

“I was told I picked him up,” Grubbs said. “After I hit him all I really remember is getting up and standing there over him.”

Multiple big plays by the defense led to its dominating performance, the Indians forced three turnovers, senior Matt Bollman stripped the ball late in the second quarter, leading to a field goal by senior Thomas Gevock with 10 seconds to go.

“I think the turning point in the game was the turnover and the fact that we were able to go down there and get points before halftime,” head coach Joe Schartz said.

Along with Bollman’s strip, fellow senior Caleb Payne intercepted a Washburn pass midway through the third.

“Everybody was getting aligned right,” Harper said. “[We] were all doing our responsibilities and I think it all just clicked.”

Early in the second quarter, Washburn mounted its only scoring drive culminating in a 34-yard touchdown pass.

“It was just a botched coverage,” Harper said. “We just moved on, there was nothing we could do about it so we just put it behind us and decided to keep playing.”

Harper was hindered by an eye injury he suffered in practice earlier that week, however he pushed through and his determination reflects the toughness of the Indians

“I was able to play,” Harper said. “I mean I can’t make excuses, I stepped on the field so I felt like I was ready to go, it was a little tough to see though.”

The Indians came into this game with confidence. They were confident in their abilities and knew what they needed to do to bounce back from a rough game against Shawnee. The team’s mindset was simple.

“To win,” Harper said. “I was confident we were going to win and I just knew I had to do my job to defend and everyone do their job as well. And we did that.”

Manhattan High football will square off against Highland Park at home next Friday.

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Indians bounce back to beat Washburn