Coming off a must win victory over Paulding County last Friday, the New Manchester football team looks to keep its playoff hopes alive once again this Friday at Chapel Hill High School. The Jaguars are currently sitting in a tie for fourth place in Region 5-AAAAA.
Allatoona currently holds a firm grip on the top spot in the region, with no signs of letting go of first place any time soon with an 8-0 overall record and a 7-0 5-5A record. South Paulding and Alexander are tied for second at 6-1 overall and 5-1 in the region. New Manchester, East Paulding and Hiram are all tied for the final spot at 4-3 overall and 3-3 in 5-5A. Only the top four teams advance into the state tourney.
The Jaguars managed to pull out a victory over Paulding last week thanks to a second half surge. Falling down early is becoming routine for New Manchester and the game against the Patriots was no different. The Jags trailed 13-7 at halftime but a 20 point offensive explosion in the fourth quarter led to a 34-20 victory.
Down 13-0, NMHS quarterback, Tabashi Thomas, turned a bleak situation into a crowd pleasing highlight as he bobbed and weavers for 88 yards and a score. The Jags took a 14-13 lead late in the third quarter when Thomas hit Tyrone Scott on an inside route.
Thomas scrambled for another TD but Paulding tied the game at 20. On the ensuing kickoff, Tyler Simmons fielded a short kick and busted up the middle for 75 yards and six points. The kick put New Manchester up, 27-20.
Running back Brian Herrien put the game away late in the fourth quarter when he found a huge opening in the line and scored on a 58-yard run. A late Patriot score proved meaningless as New Manchester held on for a 34-28 victory.
The win was a much needed one for the Jaguars, who had lost their previous three games after a 3-0 start. New Manchester currently sits sixth in the region in points per game with 26. They are fifth in points allowed at 23.
While the Jags are fighting for the school’s first football playoff appearance, Chapel Hill is trying to conclude the season by focusing on improving each week, and perhaps pull off an upset for their first victory, while competing in the 5A classification for the first time.
The Panthers currently sit in last place in Region 5-5A with an 0-7 overall record and 0-6 region record. Defensively, the team has played well, with most points coming late in games as the unit begins to tire after spending so much time on the field. The defense is allowing an average of 36 points per game, which sits only one point behind Lithia Springs for ninth. However, offense has been the Achilles heel for Chapel Hill all year. The unit has an average of only five points per game, which trails ninth place Lithia by 11 points.
Last week the Panthers were shutout for the third time this year in their worst loss of the year. They fell to South Paulding, 47-0.
“Our kids played hard, we just ran into a better football team,” DeShon said after the game. “They were much stronger, more physical. They’re bigger in all areas. What we talked about to the kids is that our seniors are playing hard. We love our seniors. But our younger kids need to see that scoreboard and that’s what we’ve got to work though.”
South Paulding led 13-0 at the end of the first quarter and 20-0 at the half. While Chapel Hill did not score, the Panthers did get a strong performance out of running back Tyre Shelton. William Profit also managed to recover a fumble off a muffed punt and Keegan Moody picked off a pass for an interception. Jordan Kidd managed to strip-sack the Spartan QB in the third quarter. Chisholm Kingston converted on a 4th-and-short play in the second quarter.
Chapel Hill will hold Senior Night against the visiting Jags, in the first meeting between the two schools. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.