FORT WAYNE – Oh, no. Not again.
That, or something close, is what Manchester coach Shannon Griffith confessed he was fearing after his Spartans lost their first four games of the season – two of the last three by a combined four points: a 28-26 loss to Rose-Hulman on Sept. 22 and a four-overtime, 18-16 loss to Kalamazoo two weeks earlier.
Griffith had seen this pattern before.
He had endured a nightmarish 2010 season when Manchester won twice and lost eight times, and of those eight defeats, six were by margins of 11 points or less, including three games decided by three points and one game by two.
My wife was afraid I’d jump off the water tower in North Manchester, Griffith said. I wasn’t very pleasant to live with.
So it was with great relief for Griffith’s well-being when he and his Spartans traveled to Bluffton, Ohio, last Saturday and left with a 24-14 victory over a Beavers team that had lost just once previously.
We finally played four quarters and we found ways to win, Griffith said.
By getting a 38-yard TD pass from quarterback and Elmhurst product Nick Williams to former Heritage standout Ryne Lehrman, and then a 5-yard touchdown run from Williams, Manchester had gone ahead 14-0, only to have Bluffton bounce back into a 14-all tie. And although Manchester regained the lead 17-14, nothing was safe until senior defensive back Max Jones returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown with 1:38 remaining in the game.
Right before Max made the interception, I made the comment in the headset, It’s about time this guy (Bluffton quarterback Tyler Wright) threw it to us,’ Griffith said. I didn’t even spit that out of my mouth, and that’s when the pick happened. It was like, wow.
Griffith hopes to keep the wow continuing when the Spartans play host to Defiance on Saturday.
It’s a good springboard for us going into our last five games, he said. We played four of our first five on the road, and that’s a daunting task for any team, no matter who you are. Now we’ve got three of our next five at home.
Here is a list of local and area players on Manchester’s 2012 roster: Kalib Jackson and Tyler Truax, East Noble; Chase Hall, Garrett; Cody Walters, Lance Shifferly and Dan Hunter, Bellmont; Williams, Elmhurst; Ben Linker, Lehrman and Josh Mitchell, Heritage; Seth Brunner and Clinton Rosen, Huntington North; Austen Curtis, Angola; Landen Hughes and Jason Fischer, Homestead; Tommy Webster and Mark Sexton, North Side; Donald Campbell, Snider; Jon Scribner, Carroll; Patrick Shafer, Norwell; and Cody Holt, Bluffton.
Athletes of note
Manchester senior goalkeeper Grant Noakes, who had back-to-back shutout wins, was named HCAC men’s soccer player of the week. Indiana Tech had several athletes receive WHAC player of the week honors. Tori Singstock (offensive) and Jordan Roell (defensive) were named for soccer, Kelsey Fitzpatrick (volleyball) and Aaron Belcher (men’s cross country). Trine defensive end Louis Danesi (defense) and kicker Tyler Keck (special teams) were named MIAA players of the week. Trine forward Curtis Holcom was named MIAA men’s soccer offensive player of the week. Anderson sophomore Krista Zurcher (Wawasee) shot a 77 and was the medalist at the Franklin Invitational at the Legends of Indiana Golf Club. She was named HCAC women’s golfer of the week.