The Manning High School football team can breathe a little easier after its 51-0 drubbing of Academic Magnet last week.
The Monarchs had lost three games in a row after starting quarterback Corey Graham was lost for the season with an injury on …
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The Monarchs had lost three games in a row after starting quarterback Corey Graham was lost for the season with an injury on Aug. 30. Friday's victory in Manning's Region VII-3A opener has it tied for the top spot in the region. Next up is a Georgetown team Manning beat 37-7 last season.
"We were on a 3 game losing streak, so getting a win was really big for us," said Manning head coach Reggie Kennedy. "I could tell a difference at practice this week, and I could just tell with the kids' attitudes. It was a much needed win, it was a good win, and all we're hoping to do is just build off that."
A series of changes instituted during Manning used its bye week prior to last week's game to make some changes offensively, and it appeared to help. The Monarchs had scored 40 points combined in their three games prior to last week's 51-point outburst.
Kennedy announced that junior varsity starting quarterback Justin Daniels would take over as the varsity starter, and that Caleb Wright -- who had been filling at quarterback -- would move back to his natural position in the backfield. Wright responded by rushing for over 100 yards and scoring three touchdowns against Academic Magnet.
"That's a really big plus for us there," said Kennedy, whose team improved to 2-3 overall with the victory. "Getting him (Smith) back where he's comfortable and getting some experience back in that position, especially since we're primarily a running team, and we just haven't had our best running back for the past couple of weeks. He had a big game for us."
Daniels impressed as well, controlling the game and limiting mistakes.
"He did a great job of managing the game," said Kennedy. "All he can do is just get better from here on out. He's really getting comfortable back there. We're just being careful and don't want to overload him. We just want him to manage the offense."
The Monarchs' schedule gets much more difficult after Friday. Kennedy knows his team needs to take care of business against the Bulldogs in order to compete for a region championship.
"We're treating it like a must-win, like it's a region championship game," said Kennedy. "We told our guys that these two games in a row would be really important for us to accomplish our goal of winning the region."
Georgetown is 1-4 overall after losing to Waccamaw 28-7 in its region opener last week.
In order to get the victory on Friday, Manning will have to contend with an offensive attack it hasn't faced yet this season.
"They run that double-wing, triple-option attack," said Kennedy. "We haven't seen that all year, so that's something that concerns us a little bit. We've done a pretty good job in practice this week recognizing it, but playing against that offense you have to be fundamentally sound defensively."
Perhaps the biggest boost to the Manning defense is an efficient offense that can move the ball down the field. The lack of offensive firepower and a series of fumbled snaps and turnovers, has forced the Monarchs defense to work with poor field position in several games.
Manning hopes to continue their turnaround on that front as region play progresses.
"We're pretty much trying to build things off of our defense," said Kennedy. "We feel like defense wins championships, and we just need to see our defense play well first for us."
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