Few players mean as much to their teams as Chuck Manns does to Old Mill's football squad. When the Patriots lost Manns to an injury three weeks ago, it was like losing four players.
"Definitely [like losing four players], plus he's our team captain," said 12th-year coach Pete Regala.
Manns, a three-year starter, is the Pats' quarterback, punter, place-kicker and safety. Old Mill was off to a 2-1 start before he suffered a hip pointer in the second half against Annapolis.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior has not played since, and Old Mill (2-4) did not score a touchdown -- losing 12-9 to Annapolis (3-3) in overtime and by 26-0 to Meade (5-1) -- until last weekend's 15-12 loss to Chesapeake (2-4).
"It will be great having Chuck because it's obvious how much he means to our team, " said Regala, who hopes to have Manns back tomorrow at North County (3-3). "He's a quiet leader who has been more vocal this year."
Despite missing two full games, Manns is still the team's leading rusher with 324 yards on 40 attempts and leading scorer with five touchdowns and 33 points.
He also has produced three extra points and has the county's third-best punting average at 36.9. His 39.7 yards per punt as a sophomore earned him first-team All-County honors and he was second-team punter last season at 37.0.
As a quarterback Manns has completed 11 of 18 passes (.612) for 156 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
Early, with several players out because of academic probation, Manns also played safety, and when those players returned, he saw action in passing situations on the team's nickel defense.
Regala said Manns "has made several touchdown-saving tackles."
"I'll do whatever the team needs me to do," said Manns.
His injury was caused by a helmet to his left side.
"I hobbled out to punt, but fell over backward, and had to come out for good," he said.
Starting his high school career playing basketball and baseball, Manns gave up basketball for football in 10th grade and has developed into a superb athlete and Division I prospect in both of his sports. Maryland, Navy, Clemson, N.C. State, Wake Forest, West Virginia, James Madison and several Division II and III schools have shown interest in Manns for football.
Last spring, Manns was an All-Metro outfielder with a .479 batting average, with 12 doubles, 23 RBIs and 12 runs scored. This summer, he caught the eyes of several pro and college scouts after posting the fourth-highest average (.435) in the Continental Amateur Baseball Association High School Eligible World Series in Euclid, Ohio.
Maryland is also among those looking into Manns' baseball talents, along with Virginia, George Washington, James Madison, UNC-Charlotte, Salisbury State and Tulane.
"I'm not sure what I want to do," said Manns. "It's going to be a tough decision and I don't know yet if the opportunity to do both will be there, say as a punter in football and baseball in the spring."
Regala said Manns "is a legitimate 36.9 and legitimate Division I punting prospect."
Manns doesn't have to worry about minimum college academic requirements because he carries a 3.29 GPA and scored 970 on the Scholastic Assessment Test.
"He's excellent all the way around," said Regala. "Chuck is Division I in everything."