Male jumps out early and never looks back, ending Manual’s season

Photo+by+Piper+Cassetto

Photo by Piper Cassetto

Jack Grossman

Manual (9-3) had the opportunity to get one of the greatest upsets in the 134 game history of The Old Rivalry against Male (12-0) in the second round of the KHSAA class 6-A playoffs on Friday night, but instead it was the Bulldogs who shut out the Crimsons to keep their undefeated season alive.

Male jumped out 14-0 in the first quarter, and 21-0 by halftime, to pretty much end all hope for the Crimsons early on in the ballgame.

“We ran into a great team that out-executed us,” Manual Head Coach Oliver Lucas said.

Friday night’s game was just the latest in a trend of slow starts for Manual against rival Male. In the last four meetings between the schools combined, dating back to 2013, Male has outscored Manual 56-0 in the first quarter.

“They prepared for us,” running back Troy Henderson (10, #29) said. “Today just wasn’t our game. We have some emotional issues when it comes to Male, so we have to make sure that our emotions don’t get the best of us.”

Male killed the Crimsons in the running game, as running back Devin Gentry ran for 201 yards–including 186 in the first half alone–and two touchdowns.

“Those little mistakes, just not making tackles, really hurt us,” safety/receiver/quarterback Tim Comstock (12, #3) said. “They took advantage of us.”

“Gentry had a couple of good runs, broke loose on some of them and got the job done,” Male receiver Zackery Smith (12, #9) said.

Male was able to use its big and talented offensive line to control the line of scrimmage against a strong Crimson defensive line.

“[Male] has a great offensive line,” Lucas said. “When you can move our defensive line then you [Male] have a very excellent offensive line.”

In the second half, it was the Bulldog passing game that took over. After sitting out the first half with a right shoulder sprain, quarterback Hayden Shelton (12, #15) came off the bench to throw a pair of touchdown passes to Smith. The second, a 29 yard bomb to Smith, put the nail in the coffin on the Crimson season. The Bulldogs rolled, 36-0.

“We just worked on it during the week,” Smith said. “On Thursdays we throw after practice just to get in a little bit of extra work, get our timing down, and that’s what it came down to.”

Manual’s defense played decently, but it was the Crimson offense that killed Manual. After gaining just 93 yards against Male back on Oct. 23, Manual showed a similar performance Friday night, only gaining a mere 91 yards.

“On offense, we just couldn’t capitalize and score,” Comstock said.

Much to many experts’ surprise, even as Manual found themselves down big early, the Crimsons kept with their straightforward, traditional game plan. Some predicted that Manual might have opened up the play book and taken some more shots downfield, gotten more aggressive, tried a few trick plays, or even gone to full wacky mode as Ballard did last week. Outside of a hook and lateral on the last play of the game, the Crimson coaching staff did not try anything unusual to try to catch Male off guard.

“Trickery is what it is: trickery,” Lucas said. “With a great team like [Male], trickery doesn’t matter. You just have to do what you do best and hopefully you can execute that, and that’s what we did. We simplified the gameplan, and we tried to do what we thought we could do, but the lights were a little too bright tonight.”

The loss ends the Oliver Lucas era at Manual. Under Lucas, the Crimsons held an impressive 45-25 record. Lucas was 4-3 against Male during his six year coaching stint at Manual.

“It’s been an enjoyable time,” Lucas said. “Manual travels well, the student body’s been great. Hopefully I’ve left a legacy at the school, and hopefully it’s one that has been received by the community, the teachers, the administration, and the student body knows that Coach Lucas gave his all. I didn’t pass judgement on anyone; I tried to do whatever I could do for everyone.”

After beating Manual, number one ranked Male, who is also ranked 12th nationally, will face off with number two Trinity next Friday in the Regional finals.