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Indians open season at Mill Valley

By Grant Guggisberg

Last year when the Manhattan High football team prepared for its season opener against Mill Valley, coaches and players did so knowing very little about their opponent to start the year.

Aside from some scrimmage film and word of mouth about the passing game of the Jaguars, head coach Joe Schartz constructed his game plan to suit the strengths of his team and left the rest to on-field adjustments.

As both teams prepare for Friday’s return game, this time on the road in Shawnee, they each have first-hand knowledge of what the other will be trying to do. Despite pounding the Jaguars a season ago, 43-21, in a game less close than the score would indicate, Schartz knows his team is in for a dogfight.

“Last year was the first matchup between the two schools and it was difficult for both sides to prepare,” he said. “I’m sure going off last year’s film, they’ll make some adjustments. They’re a little more familiar with us, and you top that off with us having to travel to their home field. It’s going to be a tall task.”

While Mill Valley loses its quarterback from a year ago, Skyler Windmiller, they do return a large and experienced offensive line, led by 6-foot-7, 285-pound junior Evan Applegate.

“They go 265, 250, 245, so they have a big offensive line, especially when you match them up against our linemen and our biggest guy is 225, and we go on down to 180,” Schartz said. “But as far as that size matchup with the kids, it’s not about how big you are or necessarily how fast and strong you are, it’s all about the want-to. If we have success against Mill Valley, that’s what it’s going to come down to.”

Despite a big size advantage last year, the Jaguars struggled to contain Manhattan’s quarterback running game, with former signal caller Jacob Holloway racking up 141 yards on the ground. With Darian Taylor taking over at quarterback, the Indians will likely start with a similar game plan.

“If we’re going to have success offensively, it all starts with us running the football,” Schartz said. “If we can run the football, we’ll have some chances to get their safeties committed and get some deep shots down the field, hopefully.”

For the Jaguars’ offense, replacing Windmiller is the toughest hole to fill after he threw for more than 2,200 yards and rushed for 586 in last year’s 8-2 campaign. After struggling against Manhattan in Week 1, Windmiller and the Jaguars found their stride and rattled off eight straight wins before falling to Bishop Miege in the playoffs.

The player who received most of Windmiller’s mop-up time a year ago is sophomore Logan Koch. He joins two others in junior Ty Bruce and senior Dylan Cole as possibilities to replace Windmiller. Regardless of who wins the starting job, Schartz knows slowing down the quarterback is of utmost importance.

“It’s still heavily quarterback-oriented,” Schartz said of Mill Valley’s offense. “They’re going to throw the ball a little bit, more than most, if not all, teams that we see this year. Their run game is quarterback-oriented too, so they haven’t changed offensively as much.”

Defensively, Mill Valley is expected to be better as some solid players return from injury. Much like the offensive line, the Jaguars’ defensive line will have a size advantage.

“Defensively, we may see more of an odd front,” Schartz said. “One of their comments from their coach so far is their pretty proud of their defensive front, which consists of at least three seniors and a junior, but behind that they’ve got two senior linebackers. Their defensive front seven, for sure, is going to be pretty stout.”

If the Indians hope to have another strong season, they’ll need to do it with leadership and a strong work ethic, which Schartz said could be better at this point in the year.

“I’ve told the boys I’m a little disappointed in some of our practices, and they know it,” he said. “It’s a daily approach that we’re struggling with. And I’m a little disappointed so far with some of the leadership.

“But it’s early, and we haven’t played a game yet, so that’s the next step, to get out there and play that first game and get everybody on film and see where we need to improve as players and coaches.”

Manhattan will get its chance at 7 p.m. on Friday in Shawnee.Last year when the Manhattan High football team prepared for its season opener against Mill Valley, coaches and players did so knowing very little about their opponent to start the year.

Aside from some scrimmage film and word of mouth about the passing game of the Jaguars, head coach Joe Schartz constructed his game plan to suit the strengths of his team and left the rest to on-field adjustments.

As both teams prepare for Friday









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