Colonels gear up for 2018 season
Team hopes for first-ever back-to-back playoff appearances
AMERICAN CORNER — Colonel Richardson High’s football team has totaled 14 wins over the past three seasons, going 4-6 in 2015, 4-5 in 2016, and 6-4 last year — its best mark on the field since 2006. Though they got shellacked, 56-6, by Havre de Grace last November, in just their second postseason appearance ever, the Colonels had just capped their most successful three-year span in 35 years.
AMERICAN CORNER — Colonel Richardson High’s football team has totaled 14 wins over the past three seasons, going 4-6 in 2015, 4-5 in 2016, and 6-4 last year — its best mark on the field since 2006.
Though they got shellacked, 566, by Havre de Grace last November, in just their second postseason appearance ever, the Colonels had just capped their most successful three-year span in 35 years. From 1981-83, the team went 15-15 under then-head coach Keith Duda, posting records of 5-5, 4-6, and 6-4 during that span.
The road in 2018, though, could be a bit more rocky for head coach Dan Mangum and his Colonels.
“We’ve lost a lot; we graduated a lot of talent,” Mangum said. “You figure we had a group of kids who all played together as a group from 10th grade on . ... I think it might have been the best three-year period we’ve had at this school.”
Quarterback and linebacker Jake Zebron — who’s pitching right now in the Baltimore Orioles’ minor league system — was one of several key components of the team. Running backs Robby Thompson and TyMir Foster, defensive backs Kairon Raikes and Darion Speller, and linemen Andy Lloyd, John Carter, Isaiah Forrest and Chris Wahl, are all gone now.
“And we’re inexperienced. We just don’t have a lot of that game knowledge of where to be, what to do in each particular situation,” Mangum said. “There’s a good deal of coaching-up that needs to be done, but there’s a lot of kids that just need to get out there and get the experience.”
The Colonels, whose schedule mirrors last year’s, open Aug. 31 at James M. Bennett. The Clippers topped Colonel last year on a 42yard Stephen Oscar field goal in the closing minutes to win, 10-8.
Like Zebron and his eight graduated teammates, Oscar has graduated — he committed to Towson University back in April — but the Clippers, who had twice the turnout of the Colonels this year, will have that all-important depth at other positions.
“We gave them a game, but they brought (former Baltimore Ravens place kicker) Matt Stover with them,” Mangum lamented last September with a laugh after the hard-fought defeat. “I’m happy that we ran with a Class 3A team; for a small school like us, that’s something.”
The Colonels, like many in the state public-school athletic system’s Class 1A bracket (there are four, all based on enrollment, with 4A being the largest), struggle with three major bugaboos.
The first two, maintaining turnout, and winning with whoever shows up to play, go hand-in-hand. If you don’t win, kids don’t come out to play, and if no one comes out to play, you have no depth. With no depth, it’s harder to win.
The third problem, keeping the bills paid via funding and fundraisers, is also a huge hurdle, and served as another nail in
the coffins of Eastern Shore programs like Pocomoke (which last dressed a team in 1985), and North Dorchester (1970).
The 2018 Colonel roster is not a big one. Mangum expects to have 21 players dressed on opening day. Running the double-wing scheme that’s been the school’s calling card for decades, Mangum added, “we’ll have a five-man front out there on defense again.
“But, again, we’re young, and some of the guys don’t have a lot of in-game experience,” Mangum said. “And that 21 figure includes two freshmen.”
Those ninth-grade hopefuls are Lesly Fleurissaint, an offensive and defensive lineman, and wing/ linebacker Cameron Errickson.
Zebron’s younger brother, Jackie, a junior, is in the running along with senior Lorenzo Turner for the starting quarterback position in the double-wing scheme, which relies almost entirely on deceptive running plays.
Seniors Tyler Stanley and Jordan Gabriel, juniors Jake Towers and Mason Lambert (the son of Neil who was the team’s head coach from 2001-2010 and is now an assistant) and Eli Stull all look to carry the ball.
Senior Remington Mangum, the son of the head coach, will handle punting and kicking chores. Dakota Wilson, who did a good bit of kicking and punting last year when Remy Mangum was injured, is himself out with a non-footballrelated hand injury, and may not play much this season, the Colonel head coach said.
“Remy’s going to do the kicking and punting as it stands right now,” Dan Mangum said. “Dakota might get his arm put in a hard cast, but I don’t know right now. We’ll see what the doctor says about it.”
Sophomore Elijah Palmer and senior Ryan Stanton rotate at the lone tight end position. Davonte Douglas, a senior first-year player, will also play outside the tackles.
Fleurissant, learning both the guard and tackle positions, will join seniors John Weiss, Shawn Wheatley, Jordan Lewis, Brandon Jester, and Colby Willis on the offensive line. Gabriel, doing another year as wedge captain, will anchor the return unit, in front of Mason Lambert and Stanley, whose father, Ty, played under Duda in the early 1980s.
“Returning, it could be any of the wing-type people back there,” Dan Mangum said. “It’ll depend on the situation.”
Weiss and Gabriel join Clayton Mills and Stull in a defensive-line rotation, with Errickson, Towers, and Lambert seeing time as linebackers.
Jackie Zebron and Turner, along with Rakai Jones, Tyler Stanley, and “maybe one or two other guys,” will work in the defensive backfield, according to Dan Mangum
If the role players can fit together and solve the proverbial personnel puzzle, Dan Mangum said, then it comes down to a matter of working toward another playoff berth, something that has happened only twice — in 2004 (the team went 3-7 and lost in the opening round, 27-0, at Snow Hill that year) and last season.
“Wi-Hi (which Colonel faces at home in Week 3] and Bennett, those are going to be tough for us, really tough,” Dan Mangum said. “And Cambridge-(South Dorchester), I really consider them a 2A even though they’re a 1A, since they pull kids from North Dorchester. These are all teams that are going to be tough for us. But we played Bennett hard opening night last year, so we’ll see.
“Looking at our schedule, really, I see six teams that we can be competitive with,” Dan Mangum said. “Kent (County), Washington, Snow Hill, and the Eastern Shore of Virginia teams — Arcadia, Nandua, Northampton . ... And of course we end the year with North (Caroline) High like always. So it’s gonna be tough.
“If we can be competitive with them, then we’ll see where we are when it’s all over,” he added. “Maybe we can make it to the playoffs again.”
Colonel’s season is slated to kick off at 4 p.m. on Aug. 31 in Salisbury at the Shipyard against the Clippers. Follow me on social media using the free MINDS app: my handle is @StarDemocratSports.
Colonel Richardson High football players prepare to run drills during a practice Aug. 16. The team opens its 2018 season with a rare 4 p.m. Friday matinee at James M. Bennett High in Salisbury.
Colonel Richardson senior punter and kicker Remington Mangum runs past his father and head coach, Dan, during a preseason practice.
Colonel Richardson head football coach Dan Mangum sports his clipboard as he demonstrates stretching exercises to his players during a practice on Aug. 15.