Derby has done what only one other team could do against Manhattan the last four years.
The Panthers have played their Centennial League foe the last two seasons and those Indian point totals (six and 14 points) are two of their three lowest since 2016.
So how does a program put those kinds of numbers up in a win-or-go-home game?
“It doesn’t matter if we’re playing the No. 1 or No. 16 team in the state, they stay focused,” coach Brandon Clark said after Derby’s win against Wichita West. “They want to win and they love the process of learning the game plan on Monday, applying it on Tuesday and Wednesday, getting to a perfect Thursday and be able to show out in front of everybody on Friday nights.”
It has been a winning formula that only BV North has matched in the state playoffs as Derby (10-0) has now won 20 of its last 21 games in the postseason. A third-straight year of Clark’s crew and Manhattan will officially commence at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night.
Each of the last two games between the Panthers and Indians came about in different fashion.
Two years ago, Derby shut out Manhattan in the second half to come back from a 14-7 halftime deficit. Last fall, it took a 24-0 lead into halftime and Manhattan was able to only muster a late fourth-quarter touchdown run.
While Clark certainly would rather see a repeat of 2018, he also isn’t taking the challenge of facing Manhattan a third time in three years lightly.
“They’re very well coached and they do a good job of making adjustments,” Clark said. “They honestly just have really good players that are big, strong, physical and fast.”
Manhattan (9-1) is coming off a 49-28 regional win over Lawrence Free State. Coincidentally, it’s exactly who coach Joe Schartz’s squad faced before traveling to Panther Stadium last November.
The Indians bring in one of 6A’s best rushing attacks, totaling 257 yards in their win over the Firebirds last Friday. If the Panthers want to hold off the ball-control offense, look no further than what was arguably their best performance of the season in 2018. Derby held Manhattan to 48 yards on 27 carries only one week after it totaled nearly 400 yards against Lawrence Free State.
2019 Derby football statistics (through 10 games)
Lem Wash, 31-of-57 (54%), 881 yards, 10 TD, 1 INT
Grant Adler, 49-of-78 (62%), 841 yards, 9 TD, 1 INT
Tre Washington, 141 carries, 1,192 yards, 17 TD
Lem Wash, 66 carries, 734 yards, 17 TD
Grant Adler, 63 carries, 528 yards, 9 TD
Cavion Walker, 23 catches, 435 yards, 8 TD
Jacob Karsak, 16 catches, 375 yards, 3 TD
Reid Liston, 14 catches, 252 yards, 3 TD
Tanner Knox, 3 INT, 1 FR
Terry Ginyard, 3 INT
Brecken Kooser, 1 INT, 3 FR
Cole Minton 1 INT, 1 FR
Ladell Clemons, Coleson Syring, Corey Akins 1 INT
Jack Hileman, 3 FR
Daniel Archer, Tyler Dorsey, Reid Liston 2 FR
Jace Jenkins, Trent Voth, Cason Lindsey, 1 FR
4,442 yards of offense (442 ypg)
2,950 rushing yards (295 ypg)
1,472 passing yards (147 ypg)
3rd down conversions: 31-for-69 (44%)
4th down conversions: 17-for-32 (53%)
Opponent total yards: 1,569 (156 ypg)
Opponent rushing yards: 641 (64 ypg)
Opponent passing yards: 928 (92 ypg)
Opponent 3rd down: 26-for-125 (20%)
Opponent 4th down: 12-for-30 (40%)