MIDLOTHIAN, VA (WWBT) - Manchester football is putting together an historic season. Last Friday, the Lancers topped Colonial Forge to take home their first region title in program history, and on Saturday they’ll take the field in their first ever state semifinal. To punch a ticket to the title game, however, Manchester will have to get through Ocean Lakes and one of head coach Tom Hall’s closest friends.
Hall and Dolphins' head coach Joe Jones have a friendship that dates back about 30 years. They spent time at Virginia Tech together, Hall was Jones’s defensive coordinator at Franklin High School in the Tidewater area, and their families vacation together annually.
Entering the week, the two had never squared off on opposing sidelines in an official game. Manchester and Ocean Lakes have met before during preseason scrimmages, but never when it counted. Now they’ll meet to decide which team will play for the state championship. The two friends saw this potential during a summer beach trip before the season kicked off.
“We were sitting on the beach at Emerald Isle and we said ‘wouldn’t it be neat if we ended up facing each other in the state semis,’” recalls Hall. “One of the two of us [is] going to be playing in the state championship.”
“I knew what kind of team he had, he knew what kind of team we had, and after the scrimmage we said this is where we want to meet again,” said Jones.
Manchester and Ocean Lakes are two similar teams. Both enter with 13-0 records, both have high-powered offenses and brick-wall defenses. The two friends say that they’ll have no problem rolling up their sleeves and taking their best shots at each other.
“When we’re competing, we’re competing,” Hall said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re playing cornhole on the beach or playing against each other in football. Each of us wants to beat the other, so on Saturday, he’s going to be focused on Ocean Lakes, I’m going to be focused on Manchester, and we’re going to try to do everything we can to win the game.”
“We embrace it,” Jones said. “It’s like two brothers fighting and competing against each other. We both want to beat each other.”
Kickoff is set for 1:00 on Saturday at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex
WAVY NBC10 contributed video and interviews to this report.