Colonels gear up for 2018 sea­son

Team hopes for first-ever back-to-back play­off ap­pear­ances

Times-Record - - FRONT PAGE - By DAVID INSLEY dins­ley@stardem.com

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.

PHOTO BY DAVID INSLEY

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.

PHOTO BY DAVID INSLEY

Colonel Richard­son se­nior punter and kicker Rem­ing­ton Mangum runs past his fa­ther and head coach, Dan, dur­ing a pre­sea­son prac­tice.

PHOTO BY DAVID INSLEY

Colonel Richard­son head foot­ball coach Dan Mangum sports his clip­board as he demon­strates stretch­ing ex­er­cises to his play­ers dur­ing a prac­tice on Aug. 15.

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