On paper, Manhattan’s tilt with Seaman on Friday figures to look a lot like its game against Emporia last week.
Except for Joseph Reagan.
The Vikings have a significant weapon on the field at almost all times in Reagan, the back-to-back 5A sprint champion in track who Manhattan head coach Joe Schartz has been calling “the fastest kid in the state”.
Manhattan (1-1, 1-0 Centennial) will make its second road trip of the season to play Seaman Friday night. The game is set to kick off in Topeka at 7 p.m.
In addition to his work as a running back and defensive back, Reagan returns punts and kick offs, handles all the punting, lines up at receiver and has even taken snaps at quarterback.
“He’s all over the field, and he’s a very efficient decoy, because you have to be aware of where he is at all times,” Schartz said. “I don’t know what his stats are, but we’re referring to him as the fastest kid in the state, and his track numbers warrant that. We have to know where he is at all times.”
One on one, the Indians will have a hard time keeping up with Reagan. Anyone caught in a footrace against him is likely to lose, so the theme of the week defensively is containment.
“We can’t let him get outside,” Schartz said. “If we keep him contained, it’ll be a total team effort. The backside can’t get cut off — they’ve got to show up and be where they’re supposed to be, or there will be a cut-back lane, and he’s capable of doing that.”
Among other offensive weapons, quarterback Ryder Chaffee and fullback Reid Fehr will try and get the option game going, just like Emporia did last week. They also have Sam Mizul and Brady Barnes at running back.
“Ryder Chaffee is their quarterback — he runs the option very well,” Schartz said. “It’s very similar to what we saw last week with Emporia, a lot of midline and veer.
“One of the things that we’ve noticed is they have a number of two-way players. Reagan plays two ways, their safety is a running back as well. Brady Barnes is a running back and free safety. Reid Fehr is their fullback, he also plays linebacker.”
Seaman (1-1, 1-1) lost to Hayden in Week 1 before narrowly defeating Junction City last week, 21-20.
Much like Emporia a week ago, Seaman is a good matchup for the Indians in terms of size. They figure to be a little bigger on both the offensive and defensive lines, especially because of 260-pound lineman Malcolm Mikkelsen, but should match up well.
“All of them are nice-sized football players, athletic, and go down to 210 or 215,” Schartz said. “It’s not like they’re extremely large like we saw the first week. We match up with them better than we did at Mill Valley.”
Offensively, Manhattan will have its hands full against Seaman’s defense.
“A kid that stands out for them defensively, their middle linebacker Hunter Poort,” Schartz said. “He’s very aggressive and makes a lot of tackles. Their strong-side defensive tackle Wyatt Hendrix, he’s a 6-foot-5, 215-pound junior. They have a number of juniors playing for them. In that aspect they’re a young team, but they’re very talented.”
Schartz hopes to see progress from his offense, which scored just one last week. Led by quarterback Kellen Myers, the unit struggled to put up points or first downs against the Spartans last week.
“There’s no doubt there’s a lot of improvement that needs to be made on the offensive side of the ball,” Schartz said. “We need to come together as a unit on the offensive line and get some movement up front. Offensive linemen don’t always get much praise, but if you’re going to score points, that’s where it all starts.”
Schartz said he hopes his team will value the ball and cut down on mistakes this week.
“We’ve been taking some strides in the right direction, but this game — we’re playing Seaman —but it’s really about us,” he said. “If we can go out there and not turn the ball over and play good defense, we’ve got a chance to win the game like we did against Emporia.”