Today's high school football game between Crestwood and Manning, set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Ramsey Stadium in Manning, will feature two young teams looking to build on their early successes as they get ready to head into the thick of their respective region schedules.
Crestwood, 2-1 on the season, has wins over Lower Richland and Rock Hill's Franklin Christian Academy and a 21-6 loss to Sumter, while the unbeaten Monarchs, at 3-0 under second-year head coach Keith West, own victories over Wade Hampton, Scott's Branch and Lakewood.
Crestwood head coach Roosevelt Nelson said he will be glad to get several players back on the field against Manning.
"We're definitely going to need all hands on deck," Nelson said. "They've got a great team -- they're 3-0 and not by accident, and well-coached, so we've definitely got our work cut out for ourselves. Everybody's got to play a good game to have success (tonight) -- all phases of the game have to play well."
Nelson said the 30-0 win over Franklin Christian Academy gave his team a good chance to regroup after the loss to Sumter.
"It was good to get some guys on the playing field and get some experience, get some depth," he said. "It was a good chance for some guys to get out there and play a full game."
West, the former Sumter High state championship quarterback, said the key to his team's early success has been continuity.
"We feel pretty good," West said. "We were hoping to get off to a good start this year and we've done it so far. The kids are used to me and I'm used to the kids. We had a good summer and we got some good players coming back from last year's team. It's just kind of all coming together right now.
"The kids are getting comfortable and I'm getting comfortable," he said. "We don't have to work every single play every week. Now if we don't run a play for a week or two, they remember it and they've done it enough to recall something that we may not have worked on."
Manning edged the resurgent Lakewood Gators last week 14-6 in a hard-fought defensive battle, but West said he liked what he saw from his team's running game, which rang up 219 yards on the ground, including 150 from Cam'Ron Cain.
"We got our running game going a little bit last week against Lakewood," he said. "This week, we'll just take whatever they're giving us. If they're giving us the pass, we'll try to throw it more, and if they're giving us the run, we'll try to run it. You don't ever really know what you're going to get on Friday night."
West did say that Manning's passing attack is much further ahead of where it was last year.
"Last year, it took us a while to get our passing game going because it was all kind of new to the kids," West said. "This year, they're all more familiar with the routes we call and the plays we call, so the passing game is ahead of where it was."
Nelson said he's trying to keep the Knights' attack balanced and take what defenses are giving up.
"The offense is based on what the defense is giving us, and we're definitely going to try to establish the running game and get the ball on the perimeter to our playmakers,"
Crestwood edged Manning 27-26 least year, and West said he expects tonight's contest to be just as close.
"It was a battle last year to the wire, and I expect it to be a battle again this year."