By Frank Rizzo
LIVINGSTON MANOR November 28, 2000 Despite a roster so thin it forced one forfeit and threatened others, Livingston Manor came close to earning a spot in the Class D championship game.
Maybe it was a blessing not clinching, reflected Manor coach Scott Branning on the Wildcats 22-21 loss to Tri-Valley on October 28. Even if we had beaten them (and according to the complicated tie-breaking formula, Manor had to win by 13 points), we were hurting.
At the center of Manors problems this year was its schedule: six of its nine games came against Class C schools.
We got mauled, Branning claimed. It took us three games to recover from the Liberty game (on September 9). My concern is getting a schedule like this next year. Id rather travel two hours and play someone my own size. I cant in good conscience play a schedule like this again.
Manors numbers problems affected even Brannings immediate family.
When Ryan [Carlson] got hurt, I had to put my own son [Patrick, a ninth grader] in, and my wife [Sharon]wasnt happy about that, Branning noted.
These problems aside, Manor almost got a chance to return to Kingston Dietz Stadium for the Class D title game.
The Wildcats lost to Tri-Valley there last year.
Ryan Carlson, the senior quarterback, was again the focus of Manors offense. In spite of missing one full game and two half games with injuries not to mention the forfeit Carlson rushed for 688 yards on 86 attempts (8.0 average) and scored six times. He also completed 20-of-46 passes for 394 yards and four TDs and four interceptions.
At defensive back, Carslon made 38 tackles and intercepted six passes.
Without Ryan I had no offense, Branning said simply.
Senior fullback Scott Denman gained 590 yards on 108 carries (5.5 average) and scored three TDs. At linebacker, his 96 tackles led the team and he also knocked down six passes and had two fumble recoveries.
Scott was a hell of a blocker, Branning praised, also naming Denman his defensive MVP.
Sometime I put seven people on the line and only him at linebacker, Branning noted. He was a workhorse. He got banged up but never came out, never got to rest.
Outside linebacker/receiver Jon Williams, a senior, had 12 receptions and scored three times. On defense, he was credited with 43 tackles and four sacks.
Soph receiver Brian Will caught eight passes, four of which were for TDs.
Senior defensive tackle Clarence Hinkley had three sacks, 26 tackles, one interception, and an eye-opening seven fumble recoveries.
Hinkley and Mike Bryant, a junior defensive end with 34 tackles, were Brannings picks as his top defensive linemen.
Manor lost the entire offensive line from the year before, and started three sophs and a junior there in 2000. Soph Remington Parker was Brannings pick as his top offensive lineman.
Junior Ron Milton played fullback and offensive tackle, and at outside linebacker had five sacks.