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Friday Night Football: Manchester at Woodridge

By Michael Beaven Published: September 5, 2014

Manchester at Woodridge, 7 p.m.

Manchester enters the game 0-1 following a 28-7 loss to Hillsdale. Coach Jim France and his staff will look to rally the Panthers against a talented Woodridge team. The Bulldogs are 1-0 after defeating CVCA 56-28 in Week 1. Woodridge coach Jeff Decker earned his first win as a coach with Don Baker starring at running back.

“It was great to get through that first game,” Decker said. “Like worrying about all the non-on field coaching stuff like pre-game routine, pre-game speech, delegating to other coaches their responsibilities, getting to know each coaches strengths during a game and how to make adjustments, etc. Now that I have gone through all that once I can focus more on coaching the kids themselves and making sure we get better each week. Friday nights are so awesome. I now feel like I can more fully enjoy the game itself.”

Decker praised his team for playing with “so much enthusiasm and intensity” last Friday.

“I gained a lot of confidence in our team as a whole, knowing how they respond to various live situations,” Decker said. “We had a lot of guys really stand out as playmakers; Don Baker on O and D, Joe Novak making big plays for us offensively and really taking his wide receiver out of the game defensively, Albert Phillips making 11 tackles as a defensive tackle and our quarterback Thomas Finegan really stepped up to led the team well. Nick Gaspro made critical plays on defense and special teams too. Our special teams units were huge. We really controlled the field position with our kick and return game.

“We are still learning our new defense.  That is the biggest change for the kids.  It is a philosophy change that takes some time to adjust to especially when players are flying around live at full speed.  The kids understand what we are doing, but just need to grow in confidence and speed in how we do it.  I have full confidence that they will.

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