By Steve Jones
August 26, 2012
Home Turf: 3300 Maple Grove Road, Manchester
Head Coach: Tony Shermeyer
2011 Record: 5-5 overall, 4-3 county
Tony Shermeyer built a standout Century High football program that, in 2008, achieved an undefeated regular season, won county and regional championships, and advanced to the Class 2A state semifinals.
That was Shermeyer's final season at Century, as the Pennsylvania resident accepted the challenge to start a program from scratch at the new Manchester Valley High School.
Shermeyer went from 12-1 at Century to 0-10 in his first year at Manchester Valley. But the Mavericks improved to two wins in 2010, and reached the .500 mark last season.
Now, in just its fourth year, Manchester Valley is a legitimate contender for the county championship and a Class 1A playoff berth.
"These guys are right on track, in regards to where we are and how competitive I thought we'd be," Shermeyer said. "We've got a good senior class. They have been excited all year, and their leadership will determine how good our season can be.
"The enthusiasm is carrying over, and I'm really excited about the potential of this team."
To reach the postseason, the Mavericks will have to overcome the loss of all-county standouts Marty Windisch and Luke Fernandez, and get a standout performance from the county's top quarterback.
Senior Dom Frank, entering his third year as the Mavericks' starting signal-caller, threw for 1,592 yards and 10 touchdowns last fall. He also ranked seventh among county rushers, with 593 yards on 147 carries.
"He will be the focal point of our offense," Shermeyer said. "Dom's physical ability has always been there. He just needed to get smarter about how the passing game works and making better reads, and learn when to run out of bounds instead of putting his shoulder down. He could play any position for us, because his skills are that good."
While Windisch, the county's top pass catcher, is now playing for McDaniel College, senior Tyler Cherigo will be Frank's go-to receiver. Cherigo caught 33 passes and averaged nearly 15 yards per reception last year. Joey Bien, who caught 15 passes as a sophomore, and junior tight end Zach Herron, will also be frequent targets.
"Tyler was the third-leading receiver in the county last year," Shermeyer said. "Joey runs great routes and catches everything that's thrown his way."
The Mavericks plan to balance their passing game with running backs that can grind it out. Aaron Roy, who was moved to the offensive line last fall, will return to the backfield. He will run behind an line that includes veterans Brendan Flaherty and Austin Keeney.
Senior lineman Jakub Hnizda and junior linebacker Jake Fernandez, who finished among the county's top 15 tacklers, will lead a defense that must improve for the Mavericks to make the playoffs. Manchester Valley gave up 32 points per game a year ago, and held opponents to fewer than 20 points just three times.
Roy and Fernandez, who combined for 130 tackles last fall, return to their inside linebacker spots. Flaherty and Keeney will anchor the defensive line, and Frank will also see time at safety.
"We have a lot of athleticism," Shermeyer observed. "This is definitely the most athletic team we've had."
Manchester Valley won't face defending county champion Westminster, but there are still challenges ahead. The Mavericks open with a pair of 2011 playoff teams, Brunswick and Boonsboro, then play three sub-.500 teams before heading into the meat of their county schedule.
Manchester Valley's playoff hopes should depend on its success during the month of October, when the Mavericks take on Winters Mill, Century, South Carroll and a new opponent, Silver Oak Academy, in consecutive weeks.
"If we can do well in our three out-of-county games, I think that we can do well in the county," Shermeyer said. "We want our record to be better than it was last year. We're getting ready for Brunswick, and we have to prepare ourselves to beat a team that we've never beaten before."
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