KPZ Pregame Week 4: Manhattan vs. Washburn Rural

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 10:48 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Manhattan visiting Washburn Rural. It’s a game that’s been circled on the calendar for quite a while now, and it will be our Kansas Prep Zone Game of the Week on Friday night.

”To think these guys haven’t been thinking about this game for a week or two, I’m probably lying to myself about that,” said Washburn Rural head coach Steve Buhler.

“It’s gonna be a great football game, and our kids are up for the challenge,” said Manhattan head coach Joe Schartz.

Losing star quarterback Keenan Schartz to graduation hasn’t halted the Tribe one bit. Averaging 46 points a game, QB Carter Aslin and the rest of the offense have risen to the challenge.

“A big thing is gonna be responding to adversity,” said Manhattan senior linebacker Tyler Durtschi. “It’s gonna happen, this is a quality opponent. There’s gonna be mistakes, but we gotta overcome them.”

But the reigning 6A State Champs know the junior blues can pack a punch.

“They got some standouts on offense and defense,” said Coach Schartz. “Especially impressed with their linebackers, and the quarterback and wide receiver.”

Both teams come into week four undefeated. Manhattan is by no means ready to let go of its 16-game win streak.

“Every week the goal is to go 1-0,” said Coach Schartz. “Go out to practice and make yourself better and if you keep your focus like that and work hard to make yourself better, good things happen.”

And the 3-0 Junior Blues really want to be the ones to snap it.

“We know their defense is always gonna be strong, and we know what we gotta do to win the game,” said Washburn Rural senior linebacker JC Heim. “We gotta be disciplined, no penalties.”

Rural knows what it will take to move to 4-0, and they’re excited about the opportunity.

“They’re physical. We gotta be more physical,” Heim added. “Their QB run, they got a great quarterback, and a great wide receiver core and a good running back.”

“I think naturally you kinda feel that way, that you wanna win all your ball games. We’ve talked about that since the summer time. Taking it each week at a time,” said Coach Buhler.

When two 6A Centennial League rivals are going head to head, everyone knows there’s conference and playoff implications on the line.

“From a head coaching standpoint, it is all about what happens at the end of the season. And where you’re trying to put yourself for that part of the season,” Coach Buhler said.

Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. at Washburn Rural High School. We’ll have full coverage during Kansas Prep Zone at 10:00 p.m.