To someone who sees him game after game, what Tim Manning does on a football field apparently seems rather commonplace.
Take Jim Barnett, the football coach at Trabuco Hills. He watched Manning run, catch and score to lead his team to a 34-0 Pacific Coast League victory over Orange Thursday at El Modena High School’s Fred Kelly Stadium. And he seemed a bit underwhelmed.
Oh, afterward, Barnett did allow that Manning, “played pretty good.”
Pretty good? He was the game’s leading rusher (80 yards on 9 carries), caught 3 passes for 30 yards and accounted for 20 points on 3 touchdowns (2 receptions, 1 run) and a 2-point conversion catch.
What does a guy have to do to get a pat on the back?
Manning’s rushing statistics were all the more impressive considering this was the first game he had been used at running back. Manning is an exceptional receiver (19 catches for 463 yards, a 24.4-yard average), but as far as running was concerned . . . Manning was an exceptional receiver.
The inexperience showed in the first half when Manning fumbled twice on runs. Barnett chalked it up to youthful enthusiasm.
“He’s looking to score every time he gets the ball,” Barnett said. “If he keeps running the ball, we’ll have to work on that.”
Manning came into the game having scored 5 touchdowns.
Both sides looked a bit skittish in the first half, fumbling and bumbling their way to a 0-0 tie. Orange had the best chance to score midway through the first quarter when it took over at the Trabuco Hills’ 49.
Four plays later, the Panthers were at the 17. Orange running back Gabino Aguilar broke off right tackle and was at the 10 when he was hit and fumbled into the end zone. Trabuco Hills’ Rick Sparks recovered, and the Mustangs took over at their 20.
The scene was all too familiar for Orange (1-5, 0-1), which has fumbled 4 times at or inside the opponents’ 10 this season.
Manning broke the tie with 5:49 left in the third quarter when he went around left end for 28 yards and a touchdown. He scored again about 5 minutes later on a 3-yard pass from quarterback David Lowery.
The windfall continued in the fourth quarter. Running back Blaine Parks (43 yards on 11 carries) scored on a 2-yard run with 9:45 left. Manning scored his third touchdown less than 4 minutes later on an 8-yard pass from Lowery. Running back Dru Thomas closed out the scoring with a 2-yard run.
These offensive outbursts are nothing unusual for Trabuco Hills (5-1, 1-0), which came into the game averaging 29.8 points and had outscored its last two opponents--San Clemente and St. Joseph (Santa Monica)--90-3.
Lowery, who had been averaging 27 passing attempts per game, tried just 18 against Orange.
“They were playing a lot of nickel (pass defense), they were forcing us to run,” Barnett said.
Still, Lowery completed 12 passes for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns.