With 35 seniors returning to its roster, New Manchester looks poised to make a run for its first-ever playoff appearance in 2014.
“We had a great offseason and are excited to have our first senior class,” said Jaguars’ head coach Rob Cleveland. “These kids have been with us all four years. There’s a lot of talent and leadership in that group.”
Leading the charge will be senior running back and Georgia Tech-commit Omahri Jarrett who had eight total touchdowns last season. Junior Brian Herrien was the Jaguars’ leading rusher last season with 657 yards on the ground along with eight touchdowns.
Junior dual-threat quarterback Tabashi Thomas will start for New Manchester. He had 2,042 total yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Senior Jacob Battle had a team-high 502 yards receiving last year.
“All of us went to middle school together and put together the pieces of the program with our chemistry,” Battle said. “We’re expecting to have a good season and make the playoffs.”
Cleveland said his offensive line returns a young group that has come together throughout the offseason.
Defensively, the Jaguars return a strong unit that allowed only 22 points per contest last season.
“We return six starters and feel more geared to stop the run than in previous years,” Cleveland said. “We’ve done a good job of stopping our opponents’ passing game the past few years.”
The defense will be led by seniors C.J. McPherson, who had a team-high 90 tackles last season, and defensive end Kreg Jenkins with 15 tackles for loss in 2013.
“We’re trying to get everyone to attack the ball and make plays as a team,” Jenkins said.
“If we stay healthy and the ball bounces right, we’re cautiously optimistic about this season,” Cleveland said.
New Manchester opens the season Aug. 22 against Douglas County High.