Last year, the Manchester made a statement as it came out of the gates hot, beating its old Dominion District rival, L.C. Bird, 28-21. The Lancers kept their momentum throughout the season, and headed into the playoffs with a 9-1 regular season record.
Manchester went on to win their first two playoff games, before losing to Colonial Forge in the third round. This year, Manchester is looking to build off last season, and make a push for the state championship.
Despite losing top players in Gavin Corker, Nygil Johnson, Frank Boyd, Breon Davis, Zayin West, and Donovan Moore, the Lancers are confident they can make a deep playoff push and believe the returning players learned from last season’s seniors, and are better players because of it.
“We have 46 kids back off last years team,” said coach Tom Hall. “We have a lot of kids that have experience. We have 14 starters back on offense and defense. A lot of our kids saw a lot of playing time last year, so I think having a large portion of kids that have been in the battles and been in the heat is definitely one of our strengths.”
Manchester was just two games away from a state championship last year, the closest they have been in a long time. With junior quarterback Brendon Clark, who recently committed to Wake Forrest, at the helm, they believe this will be their year.
“Our goal is be better than we were last year,” said Coach Hall. “Our goal everyday is to win the day, so we’re really focused on everyday winning that day whether its practice, scrimmage, or a game. We told the kids that if you come in with that attitude, learn that, and win the day, it’ll make you a better father one day too.”
Manchester will begin their journey on the road against Riverbend on Sept. 1.
Name: Tom Hall
Record Last Year: 12-2
Years Coaching: 28
Years with School: 19
College: Virginia Tech
Quarterback: Returning for the Lancers will be junior quarterback Brendon Clark (6-2, 210). Clark recovered well from his torn ACL his sophomore campaign, and led the Lancers to two playoff wins. This year, with the Lancers eyeing a state championship, the Wake Forrest commit will be counted on to lead the offense with both his arms and his legs.
Running Backs: With the departure of Liberty commit Frank Boyd and Christopher Newport commit Bryce Hall, Jaysen Glover (5-9, 185) is next in line to take over halfback duties. Despite not being number one in the depth chart, Glover still earned second team All-Conference honors by rushing for 616 yards in 54 carries with 10 touchdowns. With an 11.4 yard-per-carry average, he seems to be well suited for a bigger role.
Wide Receivers: All-Conference receiver Donovan Moore and Bluefield commit Breon Davis, the Lancer’s top two receivers last year, have both graduated, leaving Manchester with a question mark at wide receiver. Jonathon Rose (6-2, 195), Collin Harding (6-1, 155), and Val West will look to make an impact at the position. All three have seen their fare share of time on defense as well, and will be counted on for production on both sides of the ball. Senior Amiri Richardson-Keys (6-3, 170) had solid season last year and could work his way up the depth chart if he can find a way to produce early.
Offensive Line: Junior Will Pritchard (6-3, 275) looks to be leader of the Lancer offensive line unit. Nick Hawkins, Miller Travis, Nick Shook, and Tyler Jones are also players to watch, as the Lancer’s rely heavily on their lineman to open holes for their dynamic runners, as well as give Clark time to survey the field.
Defensive Line: With Zayin West headed to Kent State, All-Conference DL Eriq Lee-Brown (6-0, 240) is set to have a breakout year. The senior defensive lineman played last year for the Lancers, after transferring from Maryland. Brown has received some collegiate interest and is a name to watch this season. Sophomore Christian Williams (5-11, 270) also is likely to see plenty of playing time in the trenches this year, as he attempts to clog rushing lanes and pursue the quarterback.
Linebackers: All-Conference linebackers Nygil Johnson and Gavin Corker have moved on to Towson University and McDaniel College, respectively. Set to replace two of their leading tacklers are Tim Hamilton (6-0, 185), Demetrius Tyler (5-10, 175), Alston Robinson (6-2, 190), and Jonathon Rose. The Lancers have a young group of linebackers this year, but most already have varsity experience and have been waiting for their turn to prove themselves.
Defensive Backs: Seniors Ty’Reim Stephens-Hines and Dre Clements are looking to difference makers in the Lancer secondary this season. Clements (5-5, 135) makes up for his lack of height with his speed and use of his hands while in coverage, while Stephens-Hines has shown off his ball hawking skills more than once in his career, by going up and taking balls away from receivers. Junior Kwame Dehaney (6-0, 175) is a James River transfer who will like see some starts in the Lancer secondary, as he has turned some heads this summer in workouts.
Special Teams: Former Midlothian kicker Jake Lero will handle kicking duties this year, as Joe Chase and Luke Martin both graduated after last season.
Player to Watch: Running Back Jaysen Glover has big shoes to fill with the departure of Conference Player of the Year Frank Boyd. Boyd was the clear workhorse of the offense, and it translated to wins. If Manchester wants to compete for a state championship this year, Jaysen Glover will have to step up and lead the rushing attack. With his combination of size, speed, and power, he has the potential to be an All-Conference player, earn Manchester some key wins, and pick up a few collegiate offers along the way.