The program has only played at the varsity level for two seasons and competes in one of the toughest regions (5-AAAAA) in all of Georgia with numerous state championship contenders, yet already has won five games this season, including a 39-28 victory over Villa Rica on Oct. 25, snapping a four-game losing streak.
The Jaguars’ regular season finale will be at Hiram on Nov. 8 and they still have an outside shot to make the postseason for the first time in program history.
“The Villa Rica game was an extremely important win for us,” head coach Rob Cleveland said. “We still have our goal of having a winning record and finishing in the top half of our region because of the victory.”
Sophomore quarterback Tabashi Thomas leads the New Manchester offense, throwing for more than 400 yards this season with three total touchdowns. Junior running back Brian Herrien has averaged more than 90 yards per contest this season and scored four TDs on the ground.
Defensively, New Manchester has given up only 23 points per game and has two shutouts over Lithia Springs (44-0) and Woodland (21-0) this season. Tre Wilson, Nahshon Hester, Kreg Jenkins and C.J. McPherson each have more than 35 tackles.
“We’ve had two years to work with the kids and they’ve bought into the program and are excited about it,” Cleveland said. “Our seniors have stepped up and become leaders of our program as well. We have a young team but also a shot to progress into the upper tier teams in our region.”
The Jaguars making the playoffs would immediately boost the program into a higher level but the focus still heads towards the immediate tasks at hand.
“We’re in one of the top regions in Georgia that has older programs with more upperclassmen and tradition,” Cleveland said. “We can’t control our destiny for making the playoffs so our entire focus for the next two weeks will go into the Villa Rica game with the goals available to achieve.”