By JON REITER
At 40 degrees on the football field at Murphy Stadium on Friday night, it was probably too cold for a team to break a sweat.
Even if it weren’t, it is doubtful that host Providence would have had it any other way.
The Pioneers demolished and outmanned Indianapolis Manual from the outset, taking a 49-0 lead at halftime en route to a 56-6 win over the Redskins in the opening round of Class 2A Sectional 39.
Manual (0-10) had only scored one touchdown on the season and forfeited a contest against the Pioneers in September because it didn’t have enough available players, so the outcome wasn’t a surprise. The Redskins only brought 15 players to Clarksville.
Taking into account the stacked deck against Manual faced even before kickoff, there were still some things coach Larry Denison wanted to see out of his squad, which will travel to Triton Central for the sectional semifinals next Friday. The Tigers defeated Milan in their first-round game on Friday, 35-0.
Providence didn’t turn the ball over, never punted, and limited Manual to 69 total yards and three first downs.
“There are a few things you want to accomplish in a game like this,” Denison said of his Pioneers (7-3). “You don’t want to run up the score on a team. You try and respect them. On the other hand, you have to get some work in, and you want to make sure nobody gets hurt.
“I think we have to sharpen a few things up going into next week. But we’re going into that game relatively healthy, which is a very good sign.”
For the third straight game, the Pioneers kept the ball strictly on the ground, without attempting a pass. But they were successful running the ball once again, as three different players accounted for six of the seven first-half rushing touchdowns.
Matt Bell, who led the Pioneers with 101 yards rushing on just eight carries, scored on runs of 9, 28 and 19 in the first half as the lead widened prior to intermission.
Ben Hauber scored on a 5-yard TD run with a little more two minutes remaining in the first quarter, and later picked off a pass from Redskin quarterback Jason Breeding and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown late in the first half.
By the time, another Manual quarterback, Vontae Twitty, connected with Demetric Mounds for a 25-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter, the Pioneers had already went deep into their bench.
Next Friday, the Pioneers will make the trek north to Fairland, a small town in Shelby County five miles northwest of Shelbyville, where Triton Central is located.
“It’s a trip we’ve made several times before, so we’re accustomed to going up there,” Denison said. “We’ll have a good week of practice and hopefully we’ll go up there and give it our best effort.”
PROVIDENCE 56, INDIANAPOLIS MANUAL 6
Manual 0 0 6 0— 6
Providence 28 21 7 0—56
P — Matt Bell 9 run (Koetter kick), 9:31.
P — Owen Mattingly 2 run (Koetter kick), 5:34.
P — Bell 28 run (Koetter kick), 3:48.
P — Ben Hauber 5 run (Koetter kick), 2:41.
P — Nick Hayes 3 run (Koetter kick), 11:56.
P — Bell 19 run (Koetter kick), 8:56.
P — Hauber 40 interception return (Koetter kick), 6:37.
M — Demetric Mounds 25 pass from Vontae Twitty (run failed), 6:48.
P — Luke Fougerousse 34 run (Koetter kick), 2:52.
Indianapolis Manual: Breeding 1-4-7-1, Twitty 2-5-12-0.
Indianapolis Manual: Mounds 4-11, Coomer 5-14, Breeding 4-7, Moore 2-6, Twitty 3-6.
Providence: Bell 8-101, Hauber 5-25, Mattingly 5-34, Hayes 4-22, Noel 4-39, Johnson 4-16, Fougerousse 2-35, Quinkert 2-2, Oberhausen 3-15, Harvey 2-17.
Indianapolis Manual: Mounds 3-19.