MANHATTAN — The Manhattan High School football team lost in the Class B state championship last year, but, now that they’ve had a taste, they’re ready to get back and win it all.
“It stung a little but, but it gave chip on our shoulders, so I think we’re ready to come out and earn it,” said senior tight end and defensive end Gabriel Delgatty.
Manhattan went undefeated until the loss in the final game, losing to Eureka 20-6. Along the way, Manhattan finally was able to get over the hump of losing in the second round of the playoffs.
“It was just great to see how the community rallied and came together and supported the kids," said head coach Chris Grabowska. "That team, they left a legacy. It was a team that set a great example for future generations to follow.
Last year set the expectation.
“Like every year, that’s kind of the expectation, so we got a lot of winning program going on right now, so the kids coming in, it’s just their turn to step up now," Grabowska said. "They’re excited to get going and we’re just thankful to be out here and have the opportunity.”
This year, they have a new quarterback in senior Caden Holgate.
“He’s got a great arm," said Grabowska. "Just trying to get him comfortable being in the pocket, making his reads. It’s a process, but we’re excited to see what he can do.”
After coming so close to an undefeated championship season, Holgate is ready for the challenge.
“It hurt a lot, it did suck," Holgate said about the championship loss. "It’s just that extra bit of fuel added on to the fire and it’s given us that extra boost of encouragement.”
For the Tigers, having fans and the community rally around them means a lot for the team and those who live in the city.
“Our community, they love it, they rally around the kids and the team," Grabowska said. "I get calls every day like, ‘Are we going to be able to come to the games?’ And I’m like, they just want to be out here and support and enjoy Friday night lights. It’s a big deal in this community, for sure.”