By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
HALIFAX — In his first season as head coach, Matt Maniskas was not looking to start the season 0-3.
“There were points in the three games where we could have come back from, but our 0-3 start is due to some pursuit angles and simple tackling,” Maniskas said.
Then throw in that your home opener is against your hated rival and there’s no better way to welcome someone to the Tri-Valley League.
“What better way to open up at home than against your hated rival,” Maniskas said.
That’s what happens on Friday when Millersburg (1-2, 1-1 TVL) travels to Halifax (0-3, 0-2 TVL).
“We have instilled it in the kids that if you go 9-1 and lose to Millersburg, it is a disappointing season,” Maniskas said. “The scores don’t reflect how well the kids have played. Steel-High is a very good team, (East Juniata) is on the rise and Upper Dauphin is a very good team.”
Maniskas said Friday’s game is their Super Bowl and that they have been bringing in former players to talk to the kids about the rivalry.
“We are keeping our kids focused on this game and not what kind of start we are off to or what lies ahead in the season; we as a coaching staff and as a team are focused on Friday night,” Maniskas added.
Along with a focused team, Maniskas noted the kids’ attitudes are very positive and several seniors have stepped up and talked about what it means to beat their rivals.
“I can see on film from last year to this year, the heart that this team has shown is night and day,” Maniskas said. “These kids have been giving everything they have from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. All they need is to get a taste of success and the sky is the limit, we just have to get there.”
Halifax has been outscored 159-6 in three games.
Millersburg coach Brad Hatter echoed Maniskas’ comments when it came to the team’s record when they take on Halifax.
“I told the kids that if we are 1-9 and we beat Halifax, that would make our season, Hatter said. “This could be our playoff game. We have to be ready to play. You can throw out the record and the score from the previous week, it’s a game that both teams want to win.”
Coming off a 54-13 loss to Williams Valley, Hatter said the kids have no problem getting motivated to play this game.
“The Halifax kids come up and play with our kids in midget football and, like Upper Dauphin and Line Mountain, they know each other for a long time,” he said.
Hatter noted that it is hard to read his team right now after beating Line Mountain to open the Tri-Valley League two weeks ago.
“As good as we were against Line Mountain, we crashed down to reality last week against Williams Valley,” Hatter added. “We made mistakes and let Williams Valley capitalize on them. As far as the league goes, we are still a game out and we have to try to win as many games as we can.”
Hatter is a little concerned going into the game on Friday as the team is a bit banged up.
“Last year after four games we were 2-2 and we have to see how we respond to the loss,” he said. “If we can play well, that can propel us to get some wins. I think Halifax has some decent sized kids on the line and decent skilled kids that present a good match up for us on Friday.”