MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WWBT) - Not since 1978 have Highland Springs and Manchester met on the football field, but area high school fans are in for a treat in our Game of the Week this Friday night. The Springers and Lancers kickoff at Manchester, both as reigning state champions, boasting the two longest winning streaks in the commonwealth, showing that this one may have been worth the wait.
This year’s Highland Springs squad is 6-0, while Manchester enters this match-up at 5-0. While both won all 15 games during title runs in 2018, the rosters feature some different names this season, but apparently just as talented.
“Everybody’s asking ‘what do you think the game is going to be like?,'” said Manchester senior linebacker Ethan Griles. “I just tell them it’s going to be fun. It’s just another game.”
“Same game plan every game, attack it the same way,” added Highland Springs senior cornerback and wide receiver Daytione Smith. “We’re treating them like any other team we play on the schedule.”
While approaching this week like any other is one thing, each team sports a resume more impressive that any opponent each has probably seen in years. Highland Springs has won four consecutive state championships, boasts a 35 game winning streak and is 63-3 since the start of the 2015 season. As for Manchester, the Lancers have 20 straight victories to their name and are fresh off their first state crown in school history.
“Games like this are good for the regular season, for notoriety on the stage of Virginia, on the east coast,” Highland Springs head coach Loren Johnson said. “The guys who are in college can rib each other a little bit.”
“Just the things that they’ve been able to accomplish and what we’ve been able to do on this side of the river, it’s something to take back and be proud of,” said Manchester head coach Tom Hall. “Not be content with, but recognize the opportunity that’s provided for the Richmond area this weekend.”
The Lancers dropped down to Class 5 this season, putting them into the same 5B region as Highland Springs. Friday’s game not only provides each squad with the opportunity to get better and measure where they are, but to also get a leg up in the VHSL power rankings. Right now Manchester holds the top spot, with the Springers close behind in second.
“Highland Springs, they are the measuring stick,” remarked Hall. “This is definitely going to show us where we are and what we need to get better at.”
“They’re the number one team in the power ratings, so that speaks a lot about what they’ve been doing,” added Johnson. “We would like to be the number one team, so you’ve got to beat those guys if you want to have yourself in position to be playing at home during the playoffs.”
Friday under the lights at Manchester will feature one of the most anticipated match-ups that area high school football has seen in recent memory. A sold out crowd is expected to watch these two championship programs put on a show.
“I’m expecting electricity all the way around, from top to bottom, beginning to end, some good football all the way around,” said Johnson.
“We let you guys build it up and the hype, and the kids in school, let them enjoy it,”Hall said. "But it’s a tribute to both programs at the level we’re at right now to have a game of this caliber right now.”
Highland Springs and Manchester kick off on Friday at 7:00 on the Lancers’ home field.
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