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Manning High School

 

Run game returning as Monarchs hit final stretch

By Justin Driggers
Consulting Editor

Manning – Head coach Keith West had concerns about the Manning High School running game even before the season started.
Mainly because his top two ball carriers were injured before a meaningful game was ever played.
“We lost one of our top running backs in August and another one in a jamboree, so we were a little worried about our running game,” West said. “It’s not where it needs to be right now, but it’s getting better.”
One reason is the return of Caleb Wright, who was injured in August. Wright came back against Lake City and had a rushing touchdown and also had a solid game against Academic Magnet on Sept. 28 in a 61-0 Monarchs victory. 
Wright returns just in time for Manning’s region stretch run. MHS is 4-2 overall and 1-0 in region play and has outscored opponents 160-66 this season thanks to a stellar defense, West said.
The Monarchs have allowed more than seven points just twice this season, and a lot of that came via turnovers and was not on the defense, West added.
“The defense has played extremely well,” he said. “That’s kind of what we’ve hung our hats on. Makes offense a little bit easier when your defense is giving you good field position and not giving up points. We feel really good about them.”
Keliah Dupree, a three-year starter at outside linebacker has been a force with 51 tackles including six for a loss. Linebacker Chris Livingston has also been key with 38 ½ tackles and three sacks.
Trent Brown, Anthony Gibbs and Jamir Stukes are also among the team leaders in tackles and tackles for a loss.
The offense has been led by senior quarterback Jack Owens. He’s thrown for 724 yards and five scores. Dupree and Aaron Smith have been big targets with Smith hauling in the game-winning touchdown against Crestwood.
“We obviously feel really good about the passing game with an experienced quarterback and a lot of weapons at wide receiver,” West said. 
Aside from Wright, Darius Williams has been part of a rotation at running back that also includes the slot receivers lining up on sweeps. 

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