MHS looks to bounce back vs. Vikings

By Grant Guggisberg

With a 2-0 start this season, the Topeka Seaman Vikings have equaled their win total from last year.

Needless to say, with wins over Topeka Hayden and Junction City, the Vikings have been the surprise of the Centennial League thus far, especially on defense, allowing only six points total in two games.

“The one thing that really stands out right now is their defense, and the fact that very few points have been scored on them,” MHS head coach Joe Schartz said. “They pitched a shutout against Junction City and the week before I think they only gave up one touchdown to Hayden. So right now their glaring stat is the overall points scored against their defense.”

The Indians host Seaman at 7 p.m. Friday night at Bishop Stadium.

For an offense that was shut down and shut out by Emporia last week, facing another physical defense could prove to be quite the challenge for quarterback Jacob Holloway and the rest of the Indians’ offense.

While the Seaman defense has been especially strong this season, the Vikings’ offense has relied on big plays to keep momentum on its side. Schartz was pleased with the defensive effort of his team against Emporia, but admitted there were still things he’d like to improve upon.

“The defense for the most part played pretty well, but there were some things they could have cleaned up and done better,” he said. “And we face the same type of offense this week with Seaman, so hopefully, even though the defense played pretty well against Emporia, hopefully we play better this week.

“We’re counting on our defense to keep us in the ballgame.”

The Vikings are a lot like Emporia in that they try and run with fullback Nathan Stanley and quarterback Butch Rea, but are also a threat to go deep with the speedy Joe Reagan at receiver.

“He’s their speedster,” Schartz said of Reagan. “He’s one of their running backs and they like to throw him the football, and he’s dangerous in the return game as well. He’s very fast — I think he was at least the league champion as a freshman in the 100 meters. He ran a punt back against Hayden already.”

Reagan not only won the Centennial League sprints, but finished as the Class 5A state champion in both the 100- and 200-meter races. Much like last week with Jerel Morrow, Manhattan will have to be careful in the kicking game.

Schartz said the main difference between Emporia and Seaman offensively is the type of offensive line they’ll face. The Vikings are led by 290-pound right guard Dylan Hall

“The difference between Seaman and Emporia — Emporia’s line was smaller, but quicker, and Seaman’s line is bigger,” he said. “They’ve got Hall, who is fantastic.”

Despite losing the first regular-season game of Schartz’s head-coaching career, the Indians are ready to move forward.

“To put it in perspective here a little bit, we’ve lost one game,” he said. “It’s not the end of the world, and we have to prepare for a quality opponent coming in this week.

Manhattan’s first chance at redemption comes at a great time, with the chance to prove itself against a Seaman team in the midst of a great start to the year. Learning from last week’s mistakes may be the difference.

“As far as what we saw on film against Emporia last week, there were just some things there — the timing issues were off, or we didn’t hold our block long enough,” Schartz said. “So there are things we need to take advantage of.”

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