MANTON — It would be a bit much to ask 11 players to play each play of the game, offense and defense.

So Manton found a solution — merge it’s JV and varsity teams to provide depth.

Several area teams have done the same this fall. There’s at least four teams including Manton that aren’t fielding JV, joining Elk Rapids, Mancelona and Frankfort.

Manton beat Hesperia 26-6 in its season opener Friday.

Quarterback Lucas McKernan returns in a senior-heavy team at skill positions with nine returning starters. The Rangers have a young front, however. They will look to replace Jacob Rupert, Brayden Schmitt and Kaleb Moore who graduated.

McKernan led the team with 126 yards rushing Friday with nine tackles. Ben Paddock tallied 86 yards on the ground with eight tackles. Luke Puffer had 40 yards rushing.

The Rangers threw for 42 yards total.

Manton finished 1-6 in 2020 with a win over Rogers City the last week of the regular season. They lost to Breckenridge in the playoffs when all teams qualified because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was Manton’s fifth playoff appearance in school history, last qualifying in 2014.

McKernan said the Rangers were in a lot of games, but “lost at halftime.”

“For us, it’s simple. We’re going to take it a play at a time, a game at a time, and just do the best that we can,” Salani said. “We just want to get better each and every play and each and every game. I think we’re baby stepping in getting the program turned around into a winning program, so we’re not looking too far ahead.”

Follow Andrew Rosenthal on Twitter @ByAndrewR

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