New Manchester already has faced off against one Paulding County school, Paulding County High School, and defeated the Patriots 23-20 in a game that would make history as the Jaguars’ first region victory.
The Jags then defeated Lithia Springs 14-0 Friday to run their record to 2-0.
“It’s good to get off to a good start. It’s a confidence booster, especially as young as we are. Confidence is key,” said head football coach Rob Cleveland.
Cleveland said he was extremely proud of his young team and attributed the win over Paulding County to “control.”
“We controlled the clock and the tempo of the game. We stopped the run and were able to run the ball. We had 80 snaps on offense,” Cleveland said.
Another key factor in the win, according to Cleveland, was senior fullback Ronnie Hall, who had 16 carries for 128 yards. Hall had a 33-yard run that ended in a touchdown, putting the Jags up 16-8 after the extra point.
“He just had a good night all around. He held on to the ball like we needed him to do. He had lots of steady looks,” Cleveland said.
Hall said his role on the team is vital to their success, but in the end it will take a combined effort.
Cleveland said the team now has the confidence to play against other teams as they “improved greatly” from a how they played in a preseason jamboree, looking like a completely different team. With their newfound confidence, the Jags have to get back to business.
“We felt good about the win, especially since no one gave us a chance. It was a real positive experience. We enjoyed it for about 48 hours then it was back to work,” Cleveland said.
Going into the game against North Paulding the Jaguars are practicing every day to get better as a team, never concerned with who they play next, the coach said.
“Our strategy doesn’t change from week to week,” Cleveland said.
While the Jags may not change their strategy, there have been some changes made to the lineup early in the season due to several injuries.
“We have the usual bumps and bruises like all the other teams out there. Three of our starters were out of the Paulding County game but we’re still moving. All three of them should be back for the North Paulding game though,” Cleveland said.
As young as New Manchester is, Cleveland said his players are “cautiously optimistic” as they look to play their third region game.