Manchester University
Oak Leaves

September 21, 2018

Football 1

On Saturday, Sept. 15, Spartans beat Defiance at the season's home opener with a score of 57-26. 

Photo provided 

MU Football Looking Forward to Conference Opponents

Noah Tong

After a tough start to begin the season, Manchester football is looking to flip the script as conference play continues. The Spartans were victorious at home versus Defiance College and will now travel to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology the following weekend.

Head Coach Nate Jensen knows Manchester has their work cut out for them going forward. “Rose-Hulman will be our fourth and final night game this season,” he said. “They finished first two years ago. They finished second in the conference last year, so obviously they are a really good program.”

Jensen’s side began the season ultimately suffering defeat at Trine University and Alma College. 

“The biggest thing we need to do is keep improving,” he explained. “We made huge strides between game one and game two, now we need even greater strides. We had the game wrapped up against Alma, and we didn’t finish.

“We need to learn how to win,” he continued. “In the future, we have to finish.”

The Spartans entered the 2018 season knowing they needed to replace talented upperclassmen at key positions. Naturally, Jensen sees opportunity for new names to stake a claim for playing time.

“The offensive line played really well last against Alma,” he said. “We started three freshmen in that group. We have young wide receivers really coming along as well. They keep working hard every day. All these young guys are eager to show what they can do.”

These factors allowed junior running back Donovan Henderson Jr. to rush for a career day, amounting towards 187 yards and three touchdowns against Alma College. “The team is hungry,” Henderson said. “We’re just going to keep working hard to be the best.” It was his fifth 100-yard performance as a member of the Black and Gold.

“Obviously, our long-term goal is to win a conference championship,” Jensen said. “But we reevaluate goals every week. This week is about finishing, and it will be the same thing until we do finish.”
Tight end Zane Yon, echoing his head coach’s thoughts, understands the Spartans can’t afford to look too far ahead at their schedule. 

“As a senior, I have learned not to take anything for granted,” Yon said. “The team’s mindset is focusing on one step at a time. My personal goal is to be a strong leader on and off the field. I want to set the right example for my teammates.”

Jensen realizes it is no easy task to elevate the football program towards achieving the ambitions him and his players share, but he believes the road to success begins off the field.  “Being a college athlete is hard,” he stated matter-of-factly. “You need courage to fulfill a goal, and you need to balance many different things. A big thing for us is trying to get all these guys to understand how they are dedicated to the university now and forever.”

This process is made easier, according to Jensen, with fantastic support from the student body. “We had an awesome crowd the first week against Trine,” said Jensen with gratitude. “We didn’t play very well but they were loud, and they were what we needed to stay alive in that game. I can’t thank them enough.”