Crimsons need 'clean game' to end drought vs. Tigers
The Manual High School football team has found all kinds of ways to lose to St. Xavier in the 23 years since its last victory over the Tigers. Crimsons coach Scott Carmony simply is trying to keep his team from beating itself.
Penalties were Carmony’s main concern after St. X beat Manual 28-12 on Oct. 7, giving the Tigers their 28th straight win over the Crimsons since 1993. Manual was penalized 11 times for 82 yards, including several offsides violations that kept St. X drives going.
“We went in at 6-0 and with so much on the line, and I think the moment got to us a little bit,” Carmony said. “We just didn’t play well. Don’t get me wrong: St. X will make you do that. I’m not taking anything away from them. But if you’re going to win a district championship or play for a regional championship, you have to play a clean game and we just didn’t. It was probably one of our worst ones of the year.”
Manual will get a chance at redemption at 7:30 p.m. Friday when it travels to St. X for a second-round Class 6-A playoff game matching top-20 teams in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – the Crimsons (9-2) at No. 20 and the Tigers (8-3) at No. 4.
Along with ending its drought against St. X, Manual also is trying to advance beyond the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Carmony said he believes his players aren’t concerned about the program’s history with St. X and are confident they can beat the Tigers.
“I’m not sure kids are wired that way anymore,” Carmony said. “They don’t know about the teams of old. … They know St. X is a good football team, and they know they’ll be outnumbered. But our kids are confident enough in their ability.”
Manual averages 208 rushing yards per game but managed just 79 in the regular-season meeting against St. X. Tigers coach Will Wolford said it was “probably our best game of the year.”
“Since that time we’ve kind of settled in and Manual has improved,” Wolford said. “They played Male really, really tough with a chance to beat them. … Defensively they’ve picked it up as far as shutting down the run game, and they’re certainly talented enough to take the passing game away.”
One of Carmony’s top concerns will be St. X quarterback Desmond Ridder, who rushed for 85 yards and three touchdowns and also passed for a score in the regular-season matchup.
Ridder got plenty of rest last week as the Tigers played three quarterbacks in their 63-14 first-round rout of Muhlenberg County.
“He’s a big, tall, rangy kind of guy, and he makes them go, no doubt about it,” Carmony said. “He’s the heart and soul of their team. I don’t think it’s any secret that to stop them you have to limit his exposure and what he does.”
Manual rolled past Henderson County 53-18 last week, tallying 302 yards on the ground as nine players got at least one carry. Sophomore Aidin Robbins led the way with 112 yards and two touchdowns on nine attempts.
The Crimsons attempted just three passes, but Carmony knows his offense likely will need to be more diverse Friday to beat St. X.
“Despite popular opinion, I don’t mind throwing the football,” Carmony said. “At the same time, if I can beat you with one football play I’m going to beat you with one football play. But at this time of the year you have to keep people honest.”
* St. X’s broadcast of the game will not be available on the radio because of conflicts with University of Louisville and University of Kentucky basketball games. The game will be available online at saintx.com/broadcast.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
GAME OF THE WEEK
* Who: Manual (9-2) at St. Xavier (8-3).
* When: 7:30 p.m.
* Jason’s pick: St. X 27-16.