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Line helps No. 9 Manchester power past Powhatan

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For a program that has gone 78-16 the past eight years and won a state championship in 2018, Manchester football coach Tom Hall called the Lancers’ season-opening loss “humbling.”

The Lancers were thumped by top-ranked Highland Springs 48-7 two weeks ago.

“They’re the best football team we’ve played in a long time,” Hall said. “We hadn’t been beat that bad since 2011 [49-7 by Meadowbrook]. We have not tasted that within the last decade. That was something that we’re not used to. … It’s a constant reminder you’re never as good as you think you are.”

Still, Manchester figures to be pretty good with heaps of seasoning. While the Lancers have nine freshmen — including strong-armed quarterback Landen Abernethy — and only 13 seniors, there’s college talent in places.

After beating George Wythe 60-0 last week, No. 9 Manchester used its size up front to beat another young team, Powhatan, 35-14 at Manchester on Friday.

“We’ve got a long way to go to be a really good football team,” Hall said. “But I’m old school. I think it starts up front on both sides of the ball.”

Hall was an offensive lineman at Virginia Tech, and that’s his area of coaching at Manchester. The line with which he’s workings this season has plenty of size for high school.

There’s Gavin Nicks (6-foot-4, 265), William Harris (6-4, 271), Aiden Spencer (6-0, 202), Divine McCoy (5-5, 227) and Kenny Walz (6-5, 275), a junior whom Hall calls one of the best linemen in the state. There’s also Evan Brown (6-3, 243), and sometimes at tight end stands Makai Byerson, a 6-4, 243-pound junior who has Power Five offers as a defensive end.

That front powered scoring drives on Manchester’s first three possessions, grinding out 11-, 12- and 12-play drives that featured workhorse running back Devin Bryant (32 carries, 141 yards, three touchdowns) along with Abernethy working short passes to Ty’ee Stephens and Kyree Richardson.

Abernethy was 14 of 20 for 151 yards, with a TD and an interception. Stephens who also has Power Five offers, had seven catches for 64 yards and an 11-yard TD. Richardson had four catches for 56 yards.

Manchester had 266 yards rushing.

“That was the MO tonight,” said Hall, whose team had scoring opportunities derailed by three turnovers. “… Weekly it’s going to be different. There’s going to be some weeks that if the defense allows us to throw the ball … Against Highland Springs, we threw the ball 28 times.”

The Lancers often worked the right side behind Nicks and Harris in the first half against Powhatan. Harris was a catcher in baseball who didn’t play football until the ninth grade.

A returning starter along with Nicks and Walz, Harris has gone from bench-pressing 165 pounds as a freshman to the low-300s as a senior.

“We’re petty strong,” Harris said. “ … We work for it, that’s for sure. It wasn’t God-given. It was earned.”

Powhatan, with 19 new starters, earned a TD on its first possession when Dylan Trevillian threw a 14-yard pass to Matthew Henderson. The Indians (1-1) had a hard time sustaining anything thereafter.

Trevillian, another strong-armed QB, was often under pressure and had some balls dropped. He was 10 of 29 or 150 yards. He connected with Ben Whitver on a 69-yard TD pass with 2:49 left in the game.

“I think my big boys came to play,” Hall said. “They’ve gotten better every week. They’re the workhorses. …

“There were two really young football teams playing, but I was real pleased with our effort. I thought we ran the ball very well.”

Powhatan 7 0 0 7 — 14

Manchester 7 14 14 0 — 35

Man — Bryant 5 run (Davis kick)

Pow — Henderson 14 pass from Trevillian (Bates kick)

Man — Stephens 11 pass from Abernethy (Davis kick)

Man — Bryant 4 run (Davis kick)

Man — Wright 1 run (Davis kick)

Man — Bryant 1 run (Davis kick)

Pow — Whitver 69 pass from Trevillian (Bates kick)

RUSHING

Pow — Alejo 12-55, Trevillian 5-41, Reddick 1-18, Hutchison 1-9, Morris 2-5; Man — Bryant 32-141, Wright 7-44, Plantin 1-7, Abernethy 1-2, Others 10-72

PASSING

Pow — Trevillian 10-29-150-2-0; Man — Abernethy 14-20-151-1-1

RECEIVING

Pow — Whitver 3-98, Henderson 3-34, Alejo 1-12, Others 3-6; Man — Stephens 7-64, Richardson 4-56, Others 3-31.

tpearrell@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6965

Twitter: @timpearrelltd

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