A new and improved Manchster Academy rolls into West Point tonight trying to keep up their impressive start to the season while Oak Hill Academy are still trying to correct the mistakes they’ve been making all season long that have kept them winless thus far.
“We found out who wanted to be here and who doesn’t this week,” head coach Benjie Merchant said. “We’ve had some good practices but we’re still searching for our identity.”
Mental mistakes on snaps as well as poor coverage and missed tackles have plagued the Raiders since week one.
Injuries haven’t helped either with as many as four players missing action including starting quarterback Conner Baird who is still suffering affects from a concussion against Winston.
Merchant says there has been one bright spot for the squad, even if he doesn’t put up good numbers on the stat sheet; junior lineman Cooper Orman.
“He hardly comes off the field at all,” he said. “He’s the only guy I’ve got that’s given everything he’s got. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.”
There is one factor that appears to be missing from the Raiders this season that stands out among all others. They don’t have a dominating player that can make a difference in the game. Oak Hill has seen first hand against their opponents this season how much one player can control the outcome of the game.
“We don’t have that guy that can take it to the house,” Merchant said who loves to run the football. “Our young group has two or three of them.”
Unfortunately for the Raiders, those ninth graders won’t be available until their season is done in October.
“We just got to stay at it and keep pounding,” Merchant said. “We all knew going into this season it’s going to be rough.”
Manchester are coming off a 28-26 nail biter over Sylva Bay, there only blemish this season was 27-0 shut out against Tri-County.
They have an explosive running game and have three or four options in the backfield to work from.
“They got some speed and that’s going to be the biggest factor for us against them,” Merchant said.
The Raiders hope the home field advantage will be an advantage.