Two Adams county foes will face off for the first time since 1979 when North Adams heads down from Seaman to take on Manchester.
The Green Devils, resurrecting their program in 2012 at the youth level, have built things up from scratch all the way from third grade on up. Justin Schmitz, the coach of the North Adams high school team, said the program started with just 32 kids six years ago and are now up to about 120 throughout the program. In their first contest of the season, the high school team only had 12 players for their game against Mason County, but have added six players since.
Friday will mark a special moment for them as they’ll get to take on a county rival for the first time in 39 years.
“Practice has been electric this week. Focus has been the key word this week. We know this game carries a lot of hype and the stands will be packed,” Schmitz said.
Starting up a program begins with the players, but the logistics involved adds much more than that. The school has yet to sponsor the team yet as they seek OHSAA eligibility.
“We’ve been just doing our own thing, operating outside of the school. We’re hopeful they pick us up, we just keep our heads down and try do the right thing for the kids,” Schmitz said.
Some of the logistic battles include funding.
“We charge registration fees for kids, $75 for youth, $150 for high school kids. We also have a non-profit organization and do a couple of fundraisers to make things work. It”s been a huge blessing for the kids and the community” Schmitz said..
Now for he game itself, the Green Devils enter at 0-2 with a 53-0 loss to the Royals on August 17 and a 64-0 loss to West Union. Their third contest against Georgetown, another school still seeking OHSAA sponsorship, was postponed due to weather.
As for the matchup ahead, Schmitz said the two teams play a similar brand of football both offensively and defensively.
“It’s going to be an interesting game. We run the same offenses, same defenses. It will come down to field position and who executes better. We’ve got to play disciplined, assignment football,” Schmitz said.
The added players has helped in practice too, Schmitz said.
“We’ve had a lot of reps past two weeks, shuffled kids around on the line with the additional numbers. Prior to that, we haven’t had the consistency, but with the extra kids I feel better about our lines. We just need to gain our three and a half yards and stay on schedule,” Schmitz said.
The Greyhounds (1-2) are coming off a 16-8, double overtime win against Hannan, West Virginia. The wild affair featured two safeties, lightning delays and didn’t get completed until about 12:30 in the morning.
“There was a little bit of everything in that game,” Greyhounds coach Dustin Cook said. “We scored early and got in a groove offensively, but then we had a two and a half hour delay. I thought we stayed focused defensively, swarmed to the football and made plays. Our defense made plays and stepped up and gave us an opportunity to win. In overtime, we finally found our stride offensively again to pull away with the victory.”
After being outscored 104-0 in the first two games of the season against Fayetteville-Perry and Miami Valley Christian Academy, they’ll look for a winning streak come Friday night against the Green Devils.
“Anytime you can have confidence and have things go well for you, practice comes easier and things come easier,” Cook said. “We’re still trying to correct the mistakes we had and capitalize on what we did well on offense and defense.”
The Greyhounds have also dealt with personnel changes from fallout to additions. The roster whittled down to 17 players and they are now back up to 24.
“It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind from a personnel standpoint. We’ve added a few younger guys that will help us out. Anything we can do to help our numbers gives some of these guys a few breaks during the game. The new additions have worked hard in practice and put themselves in positions to contribute and we’re excited to see what they can do now and in the future,” Cook said.
Cook also echoed the excitement from the team, school and community surrounding the game.
“It’s definitely been a while since we’ve played them in terms of the high school setting. Obviously from a school and Adams County standpoint, the hope is to bring a bigger crowd and anything to spark interest and build crowds is something we’ll look at,” Cook said.
For the Hounds to make it two in a row, it comes down to execution.
“It’s very similar to every week, we have to execute what we do. Offensively, we have to make the right reads and have our checks in place. Defensively, we have to make sure we stay in gaps where we’re supposed to be, get hats on and swarm to the football. It’s all about executing our gameplan,” Cook added.
WHO: North Adams Green Devils (0-2) at Manchester Greyhounds (1-2)
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Manchester High School, Manchester