Photo by Kyla Drozt
Photo by Kyla Drozt

Manual vs St. X football: preview and predictions

Preview/Prediction: Jack Grossman

Tonight, the Manual football team will travel to St. X in the second round of the class 6-A playoffs. Manual lost to St. X 28-7 when the teams first played on October 17.

In that game, Manual started slow and fell behind 25-0 in the first half, and the Crimsons were never able to recover.

“We made mistakes (in the St. X game), we turned it over real quick when we had the punt blocked that ended up as a safety,” head coach Oliver Lucas (Science) said. “Then we punted the ball to them and they marched right down the field and scored.”

This was not the only game that Manual has started slow in. Manual also fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter to Male before losing 28-21 and fell behind in against Trinity 10-0 before losing 14-3.

“We’ve been able to go down the field to match people but we haven’t been able to get many early leads,” Lucas said.

To start faster, Lucas said that Manual will have to minimize mistakes.

“We start slow because we are mistake prone at the beginning of games, and once we can cut down on that we will be in much better shape,” Lucas said.

To limit the amount of mistakes, Lucas decided to work on the fundamentals of the game.

“We’ve slowed practices down to make sure that we go into more detail with the kids, walk over it first, then try it fast,” Lucas said. “The kids will slow the first time and then the second time in full speed.”

Manual has also struggled to put together a full, complete game from all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams.

“We need to do a better job of complimenting each other,” Lucas said. “We haven’t all clicked together; one is doing on job and the other is not, we just haven’t meshed together.”

After falling behind 20-0 against McCracken County last week, the Crimsons had their backs against the wall, and responded with its best half of the season.

“We both looked like crap in the first half of the McCracken County game, but in the second half, we both looked like what we should have looked like,” Lucas said. “That’s why we were able to score 35 points in 14 minutes.”

The Manual offense has made strides since its abysmal performance against St. X. After scoring just ten combined points against St. X and Trinity, the Manual offense has scored 21, 48 and 35 points in the last three games.

In the St. X game, quarterback Tim Comstock (11,#3) threw for just 124 yards and two interceptions. Comstock struggled even more against Trinity the week before, throwing for just 84 yards and three interceptions while completing just eight of 22 pass attempts, according to Maxpreps. However, Comstock’s play has greatly improved. Against Male, Comstock threw for a Manual school record 467 yards, and threw three touchdowns and did not throw a pick. Comstock also threw for over 120 yards and a touchdown in Manual’s fourth quarter comeback against McCracken County.

“The kids are finally starting to understand the concept,” Lucas said. “When you understand the concept, you don’t have to think it, then you can just react which causes you to play faster.”

“Tim has really got a grasp of what’s going on and what’s demanded of him and what’s asked of him in regards to the plays, audibles and those types of things,” Lucas said.

Since the McCracken County game, the Crimsons believe that they can compete with anyone.

“We believe that we are as good as anyone that we have played, we just got to quit making mistakes,” Lucas said.

All this week, I knew that St. X would beat Manual. I thought that the Crimsons would start slowly and the game would be out of reach before Manual would have a fighting chance. However, after my interview with Coach Lucas, and after talking to some of the different players on the team, I have made a complete 180 degree change on my opinion. My prediction: Manual will end its 26 game losing streak against the Tigers and will win 23-20 on a last second Chris Roussell (11,#46) field goal and will move on to a rematch with Male next week.


Photo by Vanessa Gregorchik. Receiver William Blackford (12, #6) catches a pass from Comstock in the Male vs Manual game. Blackford had 204 yards receiving and a touchdown in the game, according to Maxpreps.
Receiver William Blackford (12, #6) catches a pass from Comstock in the Male vs Manual game. Blackford had 204 yards receiving and a touchdown in the game, according to Maxpreps. Photo by Vanessa Gregorchik.

Prediction: Reagan Roy

Manual will be entering the house of pain for the second time this season. After defeating McCracken County in the first round of the playoffs.  Manual will get the opportunity for a rematch against St. X, a team that thoroughly controlled the entire game last time the two teams meet in the regular season.

After a 28-7 loss at St. X, in game nine of the regular season, Manual will try to contain St. X., After being thoroughly manhandled throughout the game. However, Manual is ready for the game this Friday and the rematch they want, there is no doubt on Manual’s team that they can’t not win.

“It’s been exciting, the confidence of the team has not changed, we believe that we are as good as anyone that we have played, we just have to quit making mistakes,” Coach Lucas said.

Quarterback Tim Comstock (11, #3), lead Manual back from an embarrassing point deficit in the first half of 20-0 at McCracken County. Comstock so far this season has completed 131 of his 255 passes with 8 interceptions. In the regular season Manuals record is actually better than St. X’s at (8-3) while St. X is (7-4).

Just like the Male Manual game, the X-factors for this game are Manual’s rank 1 defense, and the ability of Comstock to air out the pass. If both factors work in Manual’s favor, if Manual’s defense can prevent St. X Quarterback Noah Houk (12, #14) from passing the ball, and Comstock is able to find his receivers, Manual will defeat St. X, despite the outcome of the last time the two teams faced.

My prediction is that Manual will defeat St. X, 21-14.


Photo by Kyla Drozt
Outside linebacker Damien Smith (12, #14) lines up to try to sack the Eastern High School quarterback. Manual defeated Eastern 48-13 on Halloween night. Photo by Kyla Drozt.

Prediction: Shea Dobson

Manual football is coming off of what was quite possibly its most emotional win of the season. Down 20-0 at the half, Manual stormed back in the second half, scoring 35 points to down McCracken County, 35-20. This emotional victory has given Manual the vigor it needs to defeat longtime rival St. X, who Manual has not beat in over 20 years.

The game will be a tough one. St. X defeated Manual, 28-7 earlier in the season, Manual’s only touchdown coming in the final two minutes of the game. But with the momentum from the McCracken County victory as well as one of the top rated defenses in the state, Manual is ready to handle the challenge from St. X.

Expect to see some changes in the backfield. In the comeback against McCracken County, Trae Gordon (12, #22), Reece West (11, #1), and Andre Teague Jr. (10, #26) split the carries for the first time this season. All three have different running styles, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Manual utilize all three of them to wear down St. X’s front 7. And expect big games from linebackers Collin Boldin (12, #50) and Anthony Kyser (11, #42). With St. X relying heavily on the ground game, Manual will likely blitz early and often. Boldin and Kyser have combined for 159 total tackles this year, with 15 of those being for losses. Also, watch Ty’Ron Horton (12, #35), who is 4th in the state this year with 8 sacks.

I predict a Manual victory, 24-20. The game will be one of the toughest of the season and will be either won or lost based on the ground game.

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