Manhattan High’s defense has been excellent all season long, but it took things to the next level Friday night.
The Indians (7-0) earned their first shutout of the season with a 65-0 homecoming slaughter of Lansing after previously holding three separate opponents to seven points each.
“It’s real nice (to get a shutout),” said Manhattan head coach Joe Schartz. “We were able to get everybody in the game, too. Even our second and third string was executing well. We were able to get everybody in the game and still keep the shutout.”
Very little went right for the Lions (2-5) against the Indians defense. They managed a grand total of 40 yards on 38 plays, which was good for an average of 1.05 yards per play. They had negative yardage at the end of the third quarter, and didn’t pick up their first first down until there were 11 minutes left in the game.
Two plays later, Manhattan’s Logan Lagerman scooped up a Lansing fumble and returned it 25 yards for the game’s final touchdown.
The Lions offensive line was simply no match for the Indians’ pass-rush, and Manhattan’s cornerbacks severely curtailed any open passing lanes.
“We just ran to the ball,” said senior cornerback Dre Delort. “That’s what we preach: fast and physical. We got to the ball quick, made tackles. I think our DBs, especially, stopped their passing game. I know they like to take shots, so that kind of flustered them a little bit. (Senior linebacker) Ben Irvine, he gets to the ball quick, and our outside linebackers make it really hard for them to run.”
Lansing quarterback Reid Oakley completed just 8 of 24 passes for 40 yards. The Lions ran the ball 14 times for minus-10 yards.
“Initially, we were able to get through with one or two guys, and then eventually, as we got ahead, everybody was getting through,” Schartz said. “I think we just crushed their will, and once you get to that point, everything works.”
Manhattan’s starters only played the first two quarters, and the halftime statistics were eye-popping. Lansing had four total yards on 0.18 yards per play in the first half, while the Indians had 405 yards with an average of 11.22 yards per play.
At that point, Manhattan had a 51-0 lead.
Senior running back Jason Sanchez led the Indians with three touchdowns rushing, as he wrapped up with seven carries for 65 yards and one reception for eight yards. Fellow senior running back DeAndre Aukland went off for 93 yards rushing and two scores on eight attempts.
Senior quarterback Keenan Schartz put up 122 yards with his arm and another 122 with his feet. He ran for a touchdown and threw for one, a 16-yard pass to senior wide receiver Nate Chandler.
Chandler had three catches for 49 yards, senior wide receiver Braxton Frey had four for 46 yards and senior tight end Cole Coonrod had two receptions for 19 yards.
Manhattan took the opening kickoff and lost a fumble on its second play from scrimmage, setting up the Lions with field possession at the Indians 35-yard line. However, they only managed five yards on the drive and missed a 49-yard field goal attempt.
That proved to be the closest they would come to scoring all game long.
Manhattan went on to score touchdowns on its next eight drives, and only failed to score on its last possession, when the junior varsity offense turned over the football on downs.
“We wanted to show different things,” Joe Schartz said. “We wanted to be able to throw the football. Everything that we did worked, and it looked real good tonight.”
Sophomore backup quarterback Carter Aslin went 4-of-7 passing for 39 yards and a 13-yard touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Talon Huff. Aslin added 15 yards rushing on four carries.
Now that the Indians have properly dispatched Lansing, they can now turn their attention to their regular-season finale: a fifth top-5 matchup this year, this time against No. 3 Wichita Northwest.
The Grizzlies (6-1) throttled Wichita West 76-12 Friday, meaning that next Friday’s matchup will have major ramifications for both teams’ playoff seedings.
If Manhattan wins, it would earn the No. 1 seed in the 6A west regional. However, if Wichita Northwest wins, that would likely set up a three-way tie for first place between Garden City, Manhattan and Wichita Northwest. Ties are broken by head-to-head matchups, followed by point differentials.
“Everybody knows how big a game that is,” Joe Schartz said. “That was another distraction. (Lansing) was a team that we should’ve beat, and now we’ve crossed that off. Now we get to full focus on Wichita Northwest, who’s a very quality opponent. It's going to be a heck of a high school football game here next Friday night.”