(town Crier photo/Trent Fletcher)
Manila began preparing for the second full season of football last week as both the junior and senior high teams get ready for the upcoming season. Manila Head Coach Toby Doke has been putting his troops through two practices a day.
"We started Thursday, Aug. 2, with our senior high working in the morning and our junior high in the afternoon," said Doke. "We are being very careful with the heat, practicing about an hour and a half, and then taking a 15 minute break and finishing up with another hour of work."
The Lions, who will begin their first season of senior high football, currently has 25 players practicing. "We have a real good number for our senior high," Doke said.
Manila will have a new assistant coach in Jason Durham, who will serve as the defensive coordinator for the junior high. Durham will team with assistant coach Bill Beall as co-defensive coordinator for the senior high. Durham will also coach linebackers and the offensive line. Assistant Coach Steve Milligan returns and will serve as co-offensive coordinator for the junior high and will be responsible for the wide receivers.
"I really have a good group of assistant coaches," Doke said. "I am very happy to have Coach Durham on board and Coach Milligan also does a great job. Coach Beall never ceases to amaze me. He has so much knowledge of the game. He is an amazing person to still be doing this at his age. We are lucky to have him."
Manila has 30 players out for the junior high team, along with another 15 seventh graders. "We have good numbers in junior high and expect to pick up even more players after school starts," added Doke.
Manila will open their season Friday, Aug. 31, at Trumann. The game with the Wildcats will be a varsity game against Trumann's full senior high team. "We feel like this will give us great experience and prep us for next season when we will have a full 10 game schedule," added Doke. "This will be a good learning experience for us. We will play three other Friday night varsity games as well as several Monday night junior varsity contests."
The other three varsity games will be against Marked Tree, Harrisburg and Rector.
The Lions resume practice this week with two-a-days for both the junior and senior high teams.