Manchester football team headed to second round of playoffs
NEW FRANKLIN — The Manchester High School football team is all set for a matchup with Brookfield High School today, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. at Twinsburg High School.
“They’re 11-0 and they came in first in the region,” said Manchester head coach Jim France. “I think they score around 40 points a game, and they only give up around one touchdown a game, so we know we’ll have our hands full. But that’s usually the way it is when you get to the second round of the playoffs. We know we have our work cut out for us. This team will be the best team we’ve played so far, and we’re going to have to play the best game we’ve played all year to compete with them because they’re that good.”
The Panthers advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 21-14 home win over Hawken High School Nov. 2.
“We were playing a team that was 9-1, and our kids came out and played hard. Everyone played real well. It was a good football game,” he said. “They were a good, quality opponent, and they were probably favored to win, but our kids rose to the occasion. We threw the ball well, we ran the ball well and we played, for the most part, pretty good defense. We came away with a victory in the playoffs, and that’s always a good thing.”
France said it “was good to play at home.”
“We earned that right by coming in fourth in our region, and it’s always good to play at home,” he said. “I think the fact that we played at home played a factor in the win.”
After starting the season with two losses, France said his team regathered and has played considerably better ever since.
“We’ve played nine games since then and only lost once, so I think we’ve gotten a lot better. We’ve improved every game with the exception of one little slip,” he stated. “We’re probably playing the best football we’ve played all year — and the playoffs is always a good time to be doing that.”
France said the improvement arrived when “the whole team came together.”
“Our special teams are playing better and our defense is playing better,” he said. “Our offense has been good all year long, but now they are getting help from the defense and the special teams. The kids are just getting more comfortable in their positions. We had a lot of young kids when we started, as far as varsity experience, but they’ve worked hard to get better. We’re just at that point where everything has just come together.”
According to France, the first few games of the season were beneficial in terms of getting some “game time” for the team’s younger players.
“We always have high expectations, but we knew we’d need time for the experience we needed. We had almost a whole new offensive line, but we knew they could gel,” he said. “We have a great quarterback, but you have to have somebody to block for him and somebody to catch the ball.”
At quarterback for Manchester is senior Nick Peyakov.
“Nick just does amazing things throwing the ball,” the coach said. “He has a strong arm. He’s a smart kid and a leader. And this year he’s added a new dimension as he’s become one of our better runners, which has made him even more dangerous for defenses.”
France said he has enjoyed coaching this year’s team.
“We’ve got a great bunch of kids,” he said. “They work hard and they take football seriously. We couldn’t ask for much more.”
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