Chapel Hill, New Manchester battle for region title

Justin DeShon will lead his team Chapel Hill team against New Manchester on Friday in a game that will decide the Region 6-5A championship.

When Chapel Hill hosts New Manchester Friday evening, more than just a region title will be on the line.

The winning team will make school history.

Chapel Hill and New Manchester have never won a region football title in their programs’ histories.

“It is huge for our school,” New Manchester assistant head coach Adrain Steele said.

Since opening in 2011, New Manchester only has one playoff appearance in school history. A win would also give the Jaguars seven on the season, which would also be a school record. Six wins is the most that the team has had in a season, which happened in 2014, the only season the team made the postseason.

“It was always our goal to win a region title this year and get into the playoffs,” Steele said. “We also want to have the best record in the school history.”

New Manchester won the previous two meetings dating back to the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Chapel Hill enters the game with a 6-3 record coming off a bye week. Another win would be the most in a single-season under current coach Justin DeShon, and the first seven-win since since the 2009 season.

“It has been a goal of ours to win a region title,” said DeShon, who has the most wins in program history. “It has been a long time coming. It is definitely a big team. We are very much aware that New Manchester has an explosive football team.”

Steele said he isn’t sure how his team will react coming off two consecutive bye weeks.

The Jaguars had their games against Villa Rica and North Springs cancelled after COVID-19 issues occurred in those programs.

The forfeit wins put the team at 4-1 in the region and tied with Chapel Hill for the top spot in the Region 6-5A standings.

Steele said he isn’t sure how his team will react after being idle for two weeks.

“You don’t know what kind of rust you will have,” he said. “At the same time, I feel bad for our seniors for not being able to play a full regular season schedule. However, it has given us a chance to get healthy in some spots.”

DeShon said his team’s bye week came at a good time as they prepare for the postseason. The Panthers haven’t had an off week since the first week of the season.

“We had gone two straight months without a break,” DeShon said. “It was good getting away from it for four days. I could see the team energy level high once we got back. I feel we are ready to go.”