Next Hawk Up: 2019 Manchester Football Preview
It's the chemistry and secondary leading the way for a Manchester Hawks team that has not fallen over the last couple seasons despite losing some top talent in quarterback Jerry Ward and running back Jalen Glenn to graduation in 2018 and 2019 Shore Sports Network All-Shore Gridiron Classic Ocean County Defensive MVP Eric Cowan to graduation.
Head Coach Bill Furlong, now entering his sixth season at Manchester, has been able to successfully find the 'next Hawk up' in previous seasons by continuing to develop young talent on the roster.
"What we're trying to do as a staff is just develop all of the players," Furlong said. "It's really up to the players to determine whose going to rise as our leaders and stars."
Senior Jimmy Johns is returning to play quarterback for the Hawks this season while Furlong also points to other players who are expected to make an impact like junior running back Josh Glenn as an All-Division player back for 2019, senior running back Devin Zamot, who has battled several injuries but is a healthy start for this year, senior running back Xavier Williams and wide receiver Jake Van Wagner are projected to do big things for Manchester while senior John Mayer will play a vital role at left guard and defensive end.
Manchester is looking ahead to a battle in the National Division this season alongside Asbury Park, Keansburg, Keyport, Pinelands and Point Beach.
"I think the division is strong and our goal is to win that division but there's a lot of things that have to happen," Furlong said. "We just have to get better each week."
Player to Watch: Devin Zamot, Sr., RB/DB/P
The running game has been a big part of how the Hawks succeed on offense and Devin Zamot is a great inside runner and someone who will likely see a bulk of carries. On defense, he'll be asked to play a crucial role in a secondary that will have to keep the Hawks in games this season. Zamot slides from linebacker to defensive back for 2019.
Player Under the Radar: John Mayer, Sr., LG/DE
As the offensive line goes so does the running game for the Hawks and John Mayer has been a part of some success Manchester has found in recent seasons by opening up lanes for past players like Jalen Glenn and currently James Bennett, Romello Bush, Josh Glenn, Xavier Williams and Devin Zamot.
Top Unit: The secondary
The combination of Devin Zamot, Josh Glenn, Xavier Williams, Julius Barriteau, Sean Snead and D'Maari Brown will haunt quarterbacks and wide receivers in the National Division in 2019 if they stay healthy and fly to the ball as they have in the preseason.
Manchester will be successful if…
The defense plays their tails off. The defensive backs and linebackers are leading the way with speed and aggression while the defensive line is still much of a mystery. If the defensive and offensive line players step up and play well, the Hawks will put some points on the board and take some away. Their running game has seen some talented backs over the last few seasons but they need blocking and holes.
Who wants turnover juice?! It's the rallying cry of the Manchester Hawks defensive backfield this preseason whenever a member of the Hawks secondary picks up an interception. Defensive back's Coach Charlie Diskin will leap up in one direction while the DB who made the play will leap in the other direction.
That player then gets tossed turnover juice, AKA, a bottle of Gatorade as a token for a job well done. The secondary is a critical part of the Hawks plan of attack this year and they'll need good chemistry to stay motivated.
Manchester will have to rely on their players to play on both sides of the ball and have little to no breaks on the sideline to catch a breath.
"We have some returning starters that we have high expectations for but most of those guys probably aren't coming off of the field so we need players to work in," Furlong said.
The conditioning they do in the preseason could make or break their season.
At a Glance
Head coach: Bill Furlong, 6th season
Career record: 115-127
2018 record: 5-5 (1-5 in National Division)
Assistant coaches: Brian Wilkinson (defensive coordinator/LB); Charlie Diskin (special teams/DB), Paul Findlow (DL), Karl Schafer (OL), Tony Toto (RB), Mark Mernone (head freshmen), Anthony Speziale (assistant freshmen), Tiffany Whelan (athletic trainer).
Offense: Multiple Wing-T
Defense: Multiple 3-3 Stack
BIG SHOES TO FILL: Chris Pasos, So., DL
The Hawks lost one of the best defensive players in Ocean County to graduation in Eric Cowan so Pasos, who had a stellar finish to his freshman year, is worth keeping an eye on this season as someone most of the Shore may not know much about but is someone Manchester will rely on to stop the run.
X-FACTOR: The gunning game
The Secondary could do big things this season for the Hawks but it'll be on the legs of James Bennett, Romello Bush, Josh Glenn, Xavier Williams and Devin Zamot to put points on the board and win meaningful games, especially inside the National Division.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: D'Maari Brown, So., RB/DB
Brown is going to be one of the featured backs rotating in this season and is part of a large sophomore class that will help the Hawks for the next couple years. Brown makes up for his size with his quickness and if he's able to continue developing his game, the Hawks will chew up big yards on the ground.
PIVOTAL GAME: Sept. 28 at Keansburg
This Week 3 matchup between the new National Division rivals will be an important game for both teams but it means much more to a Hawks team that has remained around .500 the last few seasons but hasn't been able to finish and earn a winning record. A win on the road in Keansburg will keep their division crown and playoff hopes alive and well.