Senior staff writer
The final score of Manual’s senior night football game Friday against Martinsville was Unity 1, Prejudice 0.
The real scoreboard at the north end of the field didn’t really matter as both teams gathered for a simple post-game message from their coaches: We really aren’t that different from each other.
Both teams knelt for a prayer and gave thanks for their abilities to play football and to understand one another.
First-year Martinsville coach Carter Whitson, a former assistant at Indiana University, praised the Redskins, who had just been defeated 43-8 at Ray Schultz Field.
“You guys played so hard,” Whitson said. “You are a class act.”
The matchup brought together two unlike communities: Martinsville, which has a stigma, earned or unearned, that does not welcome diversity; and Manual, which is an inner-city school that has a diverse student population.
Manual coach Robert Orkman said Whitson reached out to him with phone calls to pull players together as the two teams met for the first time since 2009. Orkman said their conversations were awesome and honorable.
“This was about more than football; it was about togetherness,” Orkman said in a postgame interview. Everybody doesn’t think the same way, but people can get along well from different cultures and backgrounds. We have more in common than we thought.”
Orkman then grinned and explained that the pregame music from each locker room was the same. He emphasized that the athletes who played Friday have the same values and the same problems in high school: striving for good grades, trying to do their best on the football field, or having a girlfriend.
“This was a great experience for our team,” Orkman said. “I hope Martinsville goes away thinking that the inner-city football programs have kids who work just as hard and are just as competitive than they are. I wish there had been more people here to see this. There wasn’t an illegal hit or a disrespectful word. This was a great night.”
Senior band members, cheerleaders and players were honored during pregame ceremonies. The Class of 1977 was honored at halftime.
Martinsville took the opening kickoff 79 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown. Then on Manual’s first play from scrimmage, Martinsville’s Andy Meyer intercepted a pass. The Artesians had their second TD in three plays.
The Redskins stopped Martinsville twice on fourth down in the second half and finally scored when quarterback Coadie Barnett went in from the 1-yard line.
The Redskins were plagued by Martinsville’s big plays – touchdowns of 70, 38 and 60 yards. Martinsville rolled up 371 yards of offense; Manual hung in with 147 yards.
However, statistics in this game didn’t really matter because players from both teams discovered they had more in common than not.
Notes: 5A No. 1 Roncalli (7-0) stretched the state’s longest winning streak to 22 games by coming from behind to defeat host 6A No. 14 Fishers on Elijah Mahan’s one- and 19-yard TD runs in the fourth quarter ... Rebels wide receiver Jacob Leudeman tied the single-game reception record with eight and set a career reception record of 58 catches … Southport (4-3, 4-1) jumped to a 28-14 halftime lead and rolled to a happy homecoming against Terre Haute South as Cardinals’ quarterback Eddie Schott threw for 308 yards and three TDs … Franklin Central (6-1, 5-0) inched closer to the Conference Indiana title by dominating Bloomington North with Michael Pitz running for 273 yards and four TDs; Flashes win league outright with two more victories … Lutheran’s all-time rushing leader Andre Jones ran for 207 yards and four TDs against Monrovia … Mid-State title contender 4A No. 13 Greenwood (5-2, 2-2) and 6A No. 6 Center Grove (3-4, 2-4) were handed heartbreaking defeats.
Week 7 results
Columbus North 55, Perry Meridian 7
Decatur Central 13, Greenwood 12
Franklin Central 42, Bloomington North 14
Lutheran 36, Monrovia 29
Martinsville 43, Manual 8
Pike 28, Center Grove 20
Ritter 28, Beech Grove 0
Roncalli 28, Fishers 17
Southport 38, Terre Haute South 28
(7 p.m., unless indicated)
Greenwood at Franklin
Lawrence North at Center Grove
Manual at Broad Ripple
Roncalli at Decatur Central
Southport at Bloomington North
Speedway at Lutheran
Terre Haute North at Perry Meridian, 7:30 p.m.
Terre Haute South at Franklin Central, 7:30 p.m.
Triton Central at Beech Grovel