The remarkable postseason run of the Manchester football team came to an end on Friday night, as the Squires fell 42-0 in the 2A Sectional 35 championship game to Bishop Luers. The Squires end the season with a 5-7 record, their most wins in a season since 2007.
“I think this team is ahead of schedule,” Manchester head coach Eddie Fields said after the game. “It didn’t go our way tonight but we’ve shown that we’ve got the pieces to compete in the future. We got a great draw in the sectional and we knew that, but every team in the bottom half of the bracket did and we were the ones that came out of it.”
Bishop Luers wasted no time getting down to business in this one, going up 27-0 in the first quarter before the Squires were able to get their first first down of the game. The Knights took a 35-point lead into halftime to initiate the running clock before scoring the game’s final touchdown in the second half.
One of the biggest positives for Manchester in this one was that sophomore Reiss Gaerte, a do-it-all player that has won over the hearts of Squire faithful all season long, reached 1,000 rushing yards on the year. Gaerte rushed for over 400 yards in sectional play alone.
“He’s a humble kid and didn’t want to make it about himself, but I told him that getting to 1,000 yards is a team effort,” Fields said. “We had zero returners on our offensive line, so for these guys to be able to block for a guy that hits 1,000, it means a lot to their confidence. It’s a big milestone for this program too. It shows that we’re a physical team that’s going to run down your throat when you see us.”
Despite Friday night’s loss, Fields was content with the season his team had, especially after raising the expectations for Manchester football as a whole.
“When I first got here, I did an email interview, and was told that this was the lowest point in program history,” Fields said. “Coming off a one win season, no wins for the JV, not a whole lot of returning players. But we accomplished a lot more than even I thought was possible at the beginning of the season.”
In his preseason interview with the Times-Union, Fields made it clear that he and his team’s goal is to win as many games as they can. That goal hasn’t changed.
“I think it’s a little more realistic now. With how hard we work we’re never going to lie down and accept defeat. We played a lot of good football this season and even though we didn’t always get the wins to show for it, I like what we accomplished. This was a great stepping stone for us. Next year we’re going to want to win even more. We want to win the TRC. We want to win Wabash county, and these guys understand that,” Fields said.
Manchester’s last sectional title came in 1991. The Squires will return next season.