Manning High School will travel to Hampton today to take on Region VIII-3A champion Wade Hampton in the first round of the state playoffs. However, the Monarchs, the No. 4 team from Region VII, won't be making the trip to face the unknown.
"There's not anything that we're afraid of," said MHS head coach Keith West, whose team went to Hampton to the open the season back in August and won 39-33 in triple overtime. "It's not like we're saying, 'They came to our place and we had to beat them in triple overtime. We've been there, done that."
The teams come into the contest at different ends of the spectrum though. The Red Devils are 6-4 on the season but have reeled off five straight victories, including going 4-0 in region play. Manning, on the other hand, is 7-3 overall but has lost the last three games it has played. It won its season finale against Lake Marion by forfeit.
West believes his team is still focused on the season.
"Practice went pretty well this week," West said. "They're still excited to play. We just got in our new field house, weight room and locker room. I think we're ready to play though. "I think having that time off (with the forfeit win over Lake Marion) gave us time to get better and get over the Bishop England loss (45-36). Our kids know we could have won that game, but we gave up a double-digit loss in the fourth quarter. We just didn't finish the game.
"We've played pretty good in all but one game. The only one we didn't play well in was against Timberland (a 47-25 loss). I think we're still pretty confident."
WH is coached by longtime head coach Jerry Brown. Wade Hampton runs the flexbone offense, which West said is practically identical to what Georgia Tech runs.
"We've got in our game plan that we like," West said. "We've just got to stop it. They run it really well, but we did a good job against it for three quarters, holding them to 14 points entering the fourth quarter."
The Red Devils trailed 27-14 before scoring twice in the fourth to tie the game before MHS won it in the third overtime.