MU
Oak Leaves

November 4, 2016

Football

Senior wide receiver Matt Wirick runs the ball against Earlham




Spartans Look to Finish 2016 Season Strong


Anjel Clemente

A statement win for the Manchester Spartans football team this weekend has sparked an opportunity for the Spartans to end the 2016 season on a positive note. With a 64–13 win against Earlham College on Saturday, Nov. 29, Manchester was able to get the monkey off its shoulders and break its seven-game winless streak.
 
The two games preceding Manchester’s win on Saturday came forcefully and brutally as the Spartans struggled against two of the top teams in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC). On Saturday, Oct. 15, the Spartans faced off against Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a team that currently sits at the top of the conference with a record of six wins and one loss in the conference. The Fighting Engineers topped the Spartans 44–9. The following week on Oct. 22, the Spartans traveled to Bluffton University to face the fourth-ranked team in the HCAC. With a record four wins and two losses in the conference, the Beavers sent the Spartans back home with a 34–6 loss.

Following these two tough losses, the Manchester football team stayed home and welcomed Earlham College, a team with a difficult season as well. The Spartans sent the Quakers packing early in the game as their offense ripped through the Earlham defense, putting points on the board ten different times to come away with an overpowering 65–13 win. A win like this was something that the Spartans had been looking for all season long, and although it is late in the season, Manchester has an opportunity to use this win to great advantage.
 
Manchester’s next game is tomorrow against Hanover College at Carl W. Burt Memorial Field. The Cougars are currently at a break-even season in their conference with three wins and three losses. A team that has not been consistent enough to ensure itself a win against the Spartans could look forward to a close, hard-fought battle. Hanover is entering the game with a close 27–20 win last weekend against Defiance. Prior to that, the Cougars shut out Earlham while putting up 54 points on the board. 

On the other hand, Manchester is coming off its very first win of the season, and the team is hungry for more. 
The Spartans will finish out their season on Saturday, Nov 12 against Anderson University. The Ravens are showing a record of one win and five losses this season, just like the Spartans. As the Spartans are finally beginning to find their groove, this game between the Ravens and Spartans could prove to be a great win for Manchester. 

What does this all mean for the Spartans? Manchester currently sits in eighth place in the conference. Anderson sits at seventh, and Hanover College sits in sixth. If Manchester can play as they did against Earlham, by season’s end the Spartans could jump at the least two spots and take sixth place in the conference. Defiance College, who sits in fifth place with a 3-3 record, has a tough closing schedule with Mount St. Joseph’s (5-2) and Bluffton (4-2) as their final two games. A loss to either team could work to the advantage of the Spartans and allow them to sneak past Defiance and slide into the fifth spot in the conference.