Fuqua Taps Manis To Lead Varsity Football Program

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, December 6, 2012

FARMVILLE – Farmville's most exclusive club has gained a new member. Fuqua School has elevated Ben Manis to become the school's fourth football coach in its 53-year history.

Manis, who played for retiring coach Lewis “Skeeter” Fore, and was a four-year player at Bridgewater College, was the junior varsity head coach this past season. When Fore announced in September that the 2012 campaign would be his last on the sidelines, many felt Manis would be the odds-on favorite, should he have a successful season on the junior varsity.

“It is kind of surreal,” said Manis. “Coach Fore has been here for what seems like forever.

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“Going back to the old Farmville High School, this is only the fourth time the job has come open. I realize I'm in some very exclusive company. I hoped that I would one day get a chance [to be Fuqua's head football coach], but I didn't think it would be for maybe 10 or 20 years.”

The JV Falcons completed the 2012 season with a 5-2 record that included a 22-21 loss to Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot and home-and-home sweeps of Brunswick Academy and Kenston Forest.

“After he graduated from Bridgewater, and I heard that he was coming back to work at his family's farm, I thought he would be a good person to come in here and help out,” said Fore. “He's been enthusiastic, and he seemed to connect with the kids on JV.

“We had to practice against the JV, given our numbers situation, and I could see how he worked with the kids, and how he handled certain situations. He did very well. I think it is a good move.

“Overall, I think it will be a very smooth transition. I'll do everything I can to help make it easy as possible.”

Fore will maintain his duties as the school's Director of Athletics, and he will continue to work on the athletic fields.

“I've learned a lot from Coach Fore, both as a player and as a coach,” said Manis. “I will use a lot of what he taught me, and what I picked up in college.

“Coach Fore is a great in-game manager. He knows how to use certain situations to get the most out of what he has on the field. He doesn't make mistakes, and he insists that his players not only know the rules, but why those rules are written the they are.”

Manis was a part of some successful teams at Fuqua, so he knows first-hand what it takes to put together a winning program.

“This is a high profile job among private schools in the state. The VCC is like a little SEC in a way. The winner of this conference is usually in the State Championship game, and more often than not, the champion.”

Manis, will be assisted by Rick Davis, who was an assistant on the varsity through the 2011 season. Manis and Davis worked together on the JV this past fall.

“[Davis] will be the assistant head coach. He is a great X's and O's guy,” said Manis. “He and I will work together on the offense. We haven't quite gotten everything in order as to who will handle the defensive side of the ball, but we hope to have that taken care of soon.

“We can't waste time. Football has truly become a year-round sport. At our level, we have to share our athletes with the other sports in the offseason, but the ones that aren't playing a different sport really need to be conditioning and weight-training. That's what the top teams are doing – even at our level.”

Manis' offensive philosophies seem to be a hybrid of what he learned at Fuqua, and the system run at Bridgewater. Both do have a common theme that seems to have made an impression on the new head coach.

“If you can win the battle up front, 90 percent of the time, that's the game. Offensive coordinators are trying to get around that by getting the ball to the edge as quickly as they can, and I like that style, but if you can run the ball and take time off the clock, it makes it hard for the other team to win.

“I like both the power and spread systems. In the end, you have to work with what you have, and play to the strengths of your personnel, but I like what Oregon's Chip Kelly does. He has that equal opportunity offense. It's nice to have an offense that's impossible to defend. It makes football fun.”

Manis completed a successful campaign on the junior varsity this past fall. The cycles small schools have to deal with may keep some of those athletes from playing a full-time varsity schedule for a season or two, but with limited losses to graduation from the 2012 season, and some matriculation from the JV to the varsity, he sees things are on an upward swing.

“I can't wait for all of those guys to come up. They're really knowledgeable for their age, and are extremely coachable. We will have to make sure they keep up their work ethic.”

Manis wouldn't mind to see a few new boys move in to hurry things along.

“I want to give anyone who wants to play football a chance, if they believe they can come here and contribute. There is always a spot n the roster open for someone that's gong to work hard to make his team better. As far as recruiting goes, that's going to start at home, at first. I'm going to be doing a lot of internal recruiting. The more we can get out to play, the better.”