Football outlasts Wichita East on cold night

Jacob Clanton, Print Editor-in-Chief

In its coldest game yet, Manhattan High played like the weather: cold.

“I really do [think the weather impacted the game],” head coach Joe Schartz said. “The temperature changed on us real quick. Nobody’s had a chance to get acclimated to it, and I really do think that played a factor in the game.”

After scoring a touchdown early, the Indians (8-1) struggled for much of the game before coming alive near the end to beat Wichita East (3-6) 21-0 in the first round of the 6A playoffs.

“I think overall, once we watch the film, I think that we’re going to find out that we played better than what we thought,” Schartz said. “[There were] big changes in field possession with the muffed punts and then we did move the football, we just didn’t convert once we got into the redzone.”

The Indians got on the board early with a four-yard touchdown run from senior Reece Wewer. That would be the only score in the first half.

One of Manhattan’s problems was its inability to finish drives. MHS turned the ball over within 25 yards of a touchdown three separate times. The Indians also muffed two punts in the first half.

“[We] just got to clean a few things up,” Schartz said. “I thought our special teams were pretty sloppy tonight, and just got to get to work and clean those things up.”

Luckily for Manhattan, its defense was stout. The Indians allowed only 87 yards of offense from the Blue Aces, including 64 yards in the first half.

“Our defense has performed well all season long,” Schartz said, “and we needed that type of game out of them. Wichita East has struggled on offense this year, and we knew that we needed that type of performance out of our defense.”

Offensively, Manhattan was led by junior Kevontae McDonald. McDonald rushed 24 times for 191 yards, punching in one touchdown. McDonald also moved past 1000 yards rushing on the season.

“I think Kevontae just continues to improve,” Schartz said. “We were commenting in the locker room, the coaching staff was, about how much he continues to improve and how far he’s come this season and he means a lot to us, and we fed him the ball tonight.”

Senior Talon Claussen added 127 yards on 15 carries, and sophomore Isiah Childs ran for 28 yards on four carries.

After Claussen fumbled on the eight-yard line on MHS’ first possession of the second half, the Indians went on two touchdown drives to push the lead to 21-0. McDonald and Claussen scored for Manhattan.
“We just kept after it and we wore them down and finally spread out the score like we needed to to secure the win,” Schartz said. “I’m pleased. The kids hung in there and kept battling.”

The game took place two days after two MHS players were reportedly beat up in a hazing ritual. The Riley County Police Department is currently investigating the incident.

With the win, Manhattan moves on in the 6A playoffs, and will host two-time defending champion Derby (8-1) next week.