No. 5 Manhattan High football continued its dominant start to the season on Friday, as strong second and fourth quarters put away Seaman High, 48-21, on senior night at Bishop Stadium.
With the win, the Indians are off to a 5-0 start for the sixth time since head coach Joe Schartz took over in 2009.
“Overall it was a good test for us,” Schartz said. “It was a more competitive and physical game. I think we settled in and did some good things. Obviously, we have some things to improve upon if we’re going to continue to get better and reach our goal.”
For the first time this fall, the Indians had to play from behind.
Seaman senior quarterback Camden Barta found success using both his legs and his arm on the opening drive of the game, scrambling away from the Indians’ potent pass rush multiple times while connecting on two big throws, highlighted by a 26-yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-6 senior wide receiver Brody Gormley with seven minutes to play in the first quarter. That gave the Vikings (3-2) an early 7-0 lead.
The Indian offense took the field after that, but couldn’t get anything going, leading to a punt.
The Vikings started another productive drive, led by a 41-yard Barta run to set up the visitors deep in Manhattan territory.
The Indians forced a fourth down, and, after a timeout, the Vikings lined up with five wide receivers. Barta scrambled his way to the 16-yard line for a first down.
After that, Manhattan’s pass rush started to find its groove.
“I think they had so many guys that go both ways that we just wore them down,” Schartz said. “Especially Barta. He was getting hit offensively and then taking some punishment defensively as well. We just wore them down and settled in on both sides of the ball.”
The Indians forced another fourth down — this one a fourth-and-25 — and the Vikings decided to roll the dice again.
But a joint sack from MHS seniors EJ Whitfield and Talique Houston gave the hosts the ball back.
“We were able to hang in there and we were able to find some things that worked on offense,” Schartz said. “The defense hung in there and kept us in the game as much as they could versus a great gameplan by Seaman.”
On the next play, senior running back Vinny Smith found a seam up the middle and broke a 65-yard touchdown run, which tied the contest at 7-all.
Smith went on rush for three touchdowns and 194 yards, marking the second time this season he’s scored three times in a game.
“Vinny had a great night and so did all of the seniors who played tonight,” Schartz said. “It was a special senior night victory and I’m proud of this group. Vinny had a good night but the O-line blocked well and we were spreading people out and making them defend the whole field and when you do that, Vinny becomes very dangerous.”
From there, Manhattan outscored Seaman 27-7 through the next quarter and a half.
After forcing Seaman to punt for the first time, Manhattan led a touchdown drive that was highlighted by a first-down scamper from junior quarterback Keenan Schartz, which included a stiff arm of a Seaman defender that gained a few extra yards for the Indians.
Schartz found junior Jaxon Bowles wide-open in the end zone for a 14-yard score that gave MHS its first lead.
Seaman then fumbled (one of three Vikings turnovers in the game) and junior linebacker Jaxon Vikander scooped it up to give Manhattan the ball at Seaman’s 25.
Smith once again broke free on the possession’s opening play, scoring his second touchdown on a 25-yard run just 20 seconds after the previous Manhattan touchdown.
The Vikings’ offense responded with a long drive, buoyed by multiple Manhattan penalties and two runs for senior Seaman running back Kaden Ireland — including the drive-capping 9-yard touchdown run.
Penalties continue to be a bugaboo for an Indian defense that that has really excelled in every other facet of the game.
Manhattan had eight penalties in the game for 85 yards.
“I think on that second touchdown we gave them 45 yards worth of penalties,” Schartz said. “I told the kids in the locker room after the game that we need to get better conditioning and we need to cut out the penalties. You want them to get as close to that line as possible but don’t cross it. It’s a fine line. You have to be physical and competitive and tenacious to be a good football player and sometimes you cross that line. We need to make sure that we get off the ball at the snap, play to the whistle and stop all of that stuff after the whistle.”
Ireland was effective throughout the game both offensively and defensively, breaking multiple runs in the second half and picking off Schartz on the Indians’ second drive of the first half, which eventually led to a Seaman touchdown. Ireland ended the day with 162 yards rushing.
Manhattan’s offense went back to work, driving down the field quickly on passes to Smith and senior Kyler Hahn, which set up a 1-yard plunge by Schartz to push the Manhattan lead back to 14.
On that drive, Barta — who also is Seaman’s starting free safety — hurt himself while tackling Hahn; Barta sat the remainder of the first half.
Backup Cameron Sellbach, a junior, took over under center on the ensuing Seaman drive and threw his first pass into the hands of MHS senior Zach Hirshey, who ran 25 yards untouched for a score, extending Manhattan’s lead to 34-21 after Seaman intercepted a pass on the Indians’ two-point conversion attempt.
Things were much quieter in the second half.
Seaman scored the lone third-quarter touchdown after Schartz’s interception. The Vikings drove the field with Barta back at quarterback and scored on a 5-yard pass to senior wide receiver Casen Stallbaumer.
One of the top receivers in the Centennial League and Class 5A, Stallbaumer mostly was neutralized by Manhattan’s secondary, only racking up three catches for five yards and just one rush for three yards.
“We were very aware of where he was on the field on both sides of the ball,” Schartz said. “He’s a heck of a football player.”
The Indians started the fourth quarter with the ball after a sack from senior Josh Adeniji.
Manhattan had a steady, ground-it-out drive that ended in a 1-yard touchdown from Houston after a Grant Snowden field goal was blocked. Schartz scooped up the loose ball and ran for a first down at Seaman’s 1-yard line.
Manhattan scored a final time after another Seaman fumble led to a 31-yard touchdown run for Smith.
The Indians host Washburn Rural (4-1) next Friday for homecoming.
“Robbie Boland was an all-league type performer last year (for the Junior Blues),” Schartz said. “They like to spread the ball and do a lot of RPO so it’s going to be another challenge for our defense. They’re another tough opponent.”
Seaman 7 7 7 0
Manhattan 7 27 0 14
Seaman — Gormley 26-yard catch from Barta (PAT Good) 7:25
Manhattan — Smith 65-yard run (PAT Good) 54.1
Manhattan — Bowles 14-yard catch from Schartz (PAT Good) 7:37
Manhattan — Smith 25-yard run (PAT Good) 7:16
Seaman — Ireland 9-yard run (PAT Good) 4:25
Manhattan — Schartz 1-yard run (PAT Good) 2:56
Manhattan — Hirschey interception return (2-pt conversion no good) 7:37
Seaman — Stallbaumer 5-yard catch from Barta (PAT Good) 4:07
Manhattan — Houston 1-yard run (PAT Good) 6:07
Manhattan — Smith 41-yard run (PAT Good) 3:40
RUSHING — Manhattan: Smith 14-194, Schartz 13-72, McNabb 2-10, Houston 2-7, Aukland 2-5, Hall 1-4, Frey 1-0. Seaman: Ireland 30-162, Barta 14-77, Stallbaumer 1-3, Sellbach 2--4.
PASSING — Manhattan: Schartz 3-5-1 62. Seaman: Barta 7-13-0 38, Sellbach 0-4-1 0.
RECEIVING — Manhattan: Hahn 1-24, Smith 1-23, Bowles 1-14. Seaman: Gormley 1-26, Colley 1-16, Stallbaumer 3-5, Vargas 0-0, Vawter 1--3, Ireland 1--6.