Tradition is everlasting for the Manhattan High football program. The Indians pride themselves in teaching their players about their past successes and continuing the process that got those teams to where they wanted to be.
With the passing of legendary former MHS coach Lew Lane in February, the current caretaker of the program said there has been a lot of discussion about the program’s roots prior to the 2019 season.
“We have always been in great shape and work hard year round,” Joe Schartz, whose team went 10-2 in 2018, said. “That’s got to happen. What do you do with a young team? We’ve got to get to work, get in shape and if we are in better shape than the other team, then we have a better chance of outlasting them when they get tired.”
The Indians are going to be a young team with a lot of players who lack varsity experience, Schartz said. But there are still plenty of returning starters and talent in positions of leadership and influence.
Sam Shields, a Kansas State commitment in its 2020 class, is one of the senior team captains, and he will hold down the trenches on the line. Another notable returning starter is quarterback Dayne Aschenbrenner, who is a junior now but started under center as a sophomore, a rare feat for a Manhattan signal-caller.
“Dayne is a competitor first and foremost, and he is going to give you everything he has every night, so I’m not worried about that,” Schartz said. “The difference between this year and last year is that there is going to be more asked of Dayne. He was a sophomore last year, and we tried to protect him a little bit. Now he is going to have to step up his game as a returning starter to make more plays and take on that responsibility. But he’s ready for it and has continued to make progress and I look forward to him to continue in that direction.”
Lorenzo Wilhoite will be a significant piece to the Indians’ offense, too, as a wide receiver and halfback.
BJ Young will anchor a Manhattan defense dealing with the loss of 2018 star David Hernandez. BJ Young and Chandler Marks will be utilized as well, and Marks could make for an especially strong tight end, too, Schartz said.
“We also are going to use Tyce Hoover and Chandler Marks as a wideout and tight end,” Schartz said. “Tough matchup. He’s 6-foot-5, 205 pounds and can run. That’s going to be a difficult matchup for a lot of people. We have guys we can get the ball to.”
All that being said, Schartz is still looking for these next few weeks to get the players with less experience in shape and ready to contribute in a bigger way than they have before, as he’s done with his past teams.
“It’s time to go,” Schartz said. “We are going to be young. We do have quite a few returning starters, but overall we are going to be young, lacking varsity experience. It’s going to take a little time for the team to come together, but I’m excited to get started.”
Schartz added that the defensive line is still a place of concern right now, and that it’s likely a sophomore player receivers plenty of reps in that position group. He doesn’t know who it could be quite yet, but there still are a couple positions on the line that haven’t been earned.
“The young guys have a lot to learn,” Schartz said. “Those guys had a lot to learn last year and they progressed as the season went along. The good thing is, if they are able to progress and get to the point where they can play on Friday nights once they establish themselves, then when graduation hits, you still have those kids for two more years.”