ROSWELL, Ga. – Blessed Trinity suffered a serious loss early in last Friday’s playoff opener when standout sophomore tailback Milton Shelton injured his knee early in the game on a wet field, Nov. 15.
But senior Chad Manthey came off the bench to enjoy another huge game, rushing for 228 yards on 37 carries as the Titans defeated Jackson County 41-14 to reach the second round of the Class AAA playoffs.
The Titans (8-3) will play at home Friday against White County, a team they have defeated three times the last two seasons.
Manthey rushed for 600 yards and eight touchdowns in a recent three-game stretch with Shelton sidelined, and again came through when his team needed him.
The Titans ran the ball 57 times for 297 yards against the Panthers, while sophomore quarterback Connor Davis turned in another excellent performance, completing 12 of 13 passes for 173 yards and a 54-yard touchdown to Colin Bradley, who has four TD catches the last three weeks.
“Milton went out, I think it was the second series, and Chad came in and did what Chad does,” Blessed Trinity coach Tim McFarlin said. “Connor made some good throws. His only incompletion came when the receiver slipped.”
McFarlin said the Blessed Trinity defense played well against a speedy opponent, using the “bend but don’t break” method. The Titans limited Jackson County (4-7) to a pair of first-half field goals, breaking open the game with three touchdowns in the second quarter to lead 24-6 at the half.
The BT defensive effort was keyed by sophomore lineman Logan Craighead.
“Logan was unbelievable. He had seven solo tackles, two sacks and three or four hurries. He was relentless,” McFarlin said.
Davis and Bradley connected for their touchdown in the second period and Manthey scored on a 13-yard run.
Carter McManes, who McFarlin said was a big contributor at linebacker along with Pat Jasinski, also plays tailback in the Titans’ short yardage package. He scored the first of his three touchdowns in the second quarter and added two more TDs in the third period.
Marc Nolan closed out the scoring for BT in the fourth quarter with his second field goal of the game.
White County will be a familiar foe for the Titans, as the two teams also met in the state playoffs last year after a regular season game. BT won 21-19 in the regular season last year at White County, 35-14 at home in the playoffs and 30-0 in Roswell early this season.
The Warriors (9-2) have won five of six since, losing only to state power Buford.
“They’ve gotten better,” said McFarlin in a bit of understatement.
McFarlin and White County coach Bill Ballard are friends, stemming back to their meeting in the 2006 state championship when McFarlin was the head coach at Roswell and Ballard was at Peachtree Ridge.
The loss to Blessed Trinity this season resulted in Ballard deciding to play some of his top defensive players extensively on offense, and the Warriors have improved since.
White County utilizes a run-oriented offense similar to that of St. Pius, and defeated Adairsville 52-28 in the first round last week.
“They’re not the same team we beat earlier in the season,” McFarlin said. “Our kids know that. They’re playing a good football team Friday.”
A victory Friday would put the Titans in the quarterfinals against the Peach County-Washington County winner. Unbeaten Washington County is one of the top-ranked