MU
Oak Leaves

September 16, 2016 

Football

A Spartan hikes the ball to a teammate

Spartans Start Football Season under New Head Coach, Nate Jensen

Jacob Light

The Spartans kicked off their season with a Thursday night showdown against rough and tough Trine University. It was the first game under new head coach Nate Jensen, as well. "My  adjustment to the team has been fairly easy,” he said,” because I have been an assistant coach in years past.” he said.  

And Jensen has plans to develop the team. “Once they graduate high school they are considered young men,” he said. “My goal is to mold them into a great husband and a good outstanding member of their community.” 

Jensen has a philosophy about starting positions. "Every practice is an interview,” he said. “Everyone is competing for that starting spot!” 

He also believes that giving back to the community is a huge part what Manchester is and what football is all about; that's why last year the team as a whole did a lot of community service. 

The team and coaches prepared both mentally and physically for the game against Trine. “They really focused on making sure that every part of their offense and defense fully understood every part of their offensive and defensives plays and strategies, so they can keep the mistakes to a minimum,” Jensen said.  Before the game began,, he predicted that the key to winning would depend on “who will make the least amount of mistakes, who wants it more, and who is willing to work hard enough to pull out the victory.” 

Running back Hunter Hardee likes the direction in which the team is going. "Coach Jensen is changing the culture of the Spartans, expecting the best out of all the players," he said. Tristen Chester, Manchester’s starting quarterback, agreed. "I feel confident in the hard work that we put in as a team this off season and during camp,” he said. “I think we all worked hard and are ready to get out there and play. The only expectation I have for myself is to play the game as hard as I possibly can and get a win with my teammates.”

Chester also appreciates the captains of the team. “We all have a mutual respect for one another," he said. “That's one of the biggest contribution that the captains really set as their mindset and because of that we all follow their example. As a team we have really come together as brothers."

The game kicked off with a magnificent start, the Spartans took a 3-0 lead. But Trine wasn’t finished; they then drove down the field and scored a touchdown, making the score 7-3. The first half of the game was a defensive battle on both sides, with Manchester’s defense doing a good job of stopping the run game and holding their offensive passing to a minimum. But at the same time Trine was doing the same. 

Hardee had an outstanding first half, rushing for 94 yards. Chester was a little shaky at first but once the game got going he started to settle in, throwing for 107 yards. 

The second half kicked off with a good defensive stance from Manchester but Trine drove down the field only to be stopped short, and had to resort to a field goal. The rest of the third quarter was a back-to-back battle, as the Spartans tried to drive and get themselves a touchdown. The same went for Trine. 

Both team’s defenses were playing an outstanding game, stopping each other from scoring. The fourth quarter began with a quick Manchester touchdown, making the score 10-9. But as Trine stopped MU's two-point conversion attempt, the momentum began to shift Trine’s way. From there the Spartans continued to put up a good fight but Trine started to pull away even more after two quick touchdowns. That doesn’t mean that the Spartans just rolled over and stopped trying, they continued to try to score but the Trine defense kept stopping their offensive drives. The game ended with the score Trine 23, Manchester 9. 

After the game Chester remained positive. “We played hard as a team but we made too many mistakes," he said. “I had some chances to make plays and didn't capitalize on them. We will continue to work hard and bounce back from this loss.”

During the end-of-game press conference, Jensen  talked about how the entire team was “in this from the very beginning till the end” and recognized the support of all the fans in attendance. The biggest game changer in Jensen’s eyes was, as he put it “his fault”: “We went for two on a trick play, and we didn’t execute,” he said. 

Jensen said that the team will work to “correct the little things” in order to better themselves and prepare for the future. 

The Spartans' second game, against Alma, consisted of both teams battling it out till the end, but Manchester fell short. The first half MU was up 20-17, but going into the second half Alma kicked it into another gear and the game ended in a tough loss. Jensen’s main focus going forward is to get the team ready and prepared for conference games that start next week.