Randy Whetstone Jr.
Photos by Damon Atherton
This Friday will be the latest installment of the historic Male-Manual rivalry, also known as the Old Rivalry. It is one of the oldest rivalries in the United States and is the oldest in the state of Kentucky. This year, both squads will be rewriting the history books in Manual’s backyard at 7:30 p.m.
Although both teams will take to the field Friday night, the animosity between the two schools began earlier in the week. Spirit-week is filled with fun and festivities, but also a week where students, faculty and staff gain intensity in their feelings toward the rival school. Male and Manual have clashed for over a century and both teams will try to out duel the other in the Battle for the Barrel.
Manual has held the advantage in the last decade. They have won six of the last 10 meetings, but have lost the last three games against the Bulldogs. They will look to end their losing streak, but it may be a tough task. Manual (3-5) has struggled this season to post tallies in the win column and will look to avoid their first losing season since 2012 under former head coach Oliver Lucas.
The problem? Perhaps a lack of run production. The Crimsons’ running game has not been as dominant this year as it has been in recent years. They have averaged just 91.4 yards a game, while giving up 139.4 yards a game to their opponents. Manual’s losses have been close this season though. They have lost four of five games by a total of 24 points. The only disparity was a 22 point loss, 56-34, at the hands of St. Xavier.
The game will be the second match up between Manual Head Coach Scott Carmony and Male Head Coach Chris Wolfe.
Male (7-2) has allowed 110.5 yards on the ground for the season, but have ran the ball quite well on their end. They are averaging 198.3 yards rushing. The startling stat is that Male has only allowed 11.2 points a game to their opponents while putting up 34.6 points a game on their end. The scary asterisk is their two losses. In those games they have been shut out by both Trinity and St. X, losing 22-0 (Trinity) and 27-0 (St. X).
I had the chance to speak with Coach Wolfe about the upcoming game and here’s what he had to say:
Describe what has made this historic rivalry special to you.
“The passion for the game. It’s a week long event at school and every student knows it’s Manual week.”
Describe the difference between this game versus other games.
“Bragging rights for a year. I’ve heard at Male class reunions the main topic is still who won the Male vs. Manual game.”
How is the week of preparation for your coaching staff and players when preparing for Manual?
“It’s very stressful. There are lots of events going on but for the most part we’ve tried to embrace the craziness.”
How does this game prepare your guys for the playoffs mentally?
“It’s a do or die atmosphere, similar to the win or go home mentality of the playoffs.”
Describe the school atmosphere during Male/Manual week.
“This is the week these kids remember forever. Lots of memories are created through the week but the one memory that will stick out is who has the Barrel when the dust settles on Friday night.”
Outside of the playoffs, would you say this game is the most exciting game you’ve coached?
“Without a doubt. It’s a remarkable experience.” VT