State football finals notebook: Manlove, Raiders want to go out winners

Ed Manlove has coached for 31 years, including stops at Middletown, Laurel and Woodbridge. Delaware State News file photo

NEW CASTLE — Many of Woodbridge High’s seniors know Saturday will be their last competitive football game.

Blue Raiders’ coach Ed Manlove knows how they feel.

Manlove has decided that Saturday’s DIAA Division II state title game, between Woodbridge and Wilmington Friends, will also be the last of his career.

The 49-year-old has coached for 31 years, including stops at Middletown (13 years) and Laurel (seven). The Felton resident has been Woodbridge’s head coach for the past decade.

Most of the Raiders have known about Manlove’s decision all season.

“It’s one of those deals where it’s my last game and it’s their last game,” said Manlove. “We haven’t made that an issue at all, though, all season. We don’t even talk about that. All we talk about is winning and that’s what we’re focused on now.

“It’ll be a little nostalgic when it gets toward the end. But right now we’re just ready to go.”

It’s been a memorable three-year run for the Raiders, who have reached the state finals for the second time in that span. Woodbridge has 14 seniors, most of whom have helped compile a 31-5 record since 2016.

Quarterback Troy Haynes says that being a senior on Manlove’s last team is special.

Ed Manlove

“It means a lot, knowing that he’s coached I don’t know how many years and he’s finishing up with us in a state championship,” said Haynes. “It’s great.

“It’s not just him, it’s us, too. I would love to end my senior year with a state championship.”

“We definitely want to send him out with a win in the state championships,” said senior linebacker Brock Keeler. “It’s kind of like an unsaid thing. He doesn’t really say much about it but we kind of know in the back of our heads that it’s his last game, too. We’re looking to get him a win.”

This will be the ninth state finals that Manlove has coached in. He was the head coach of the Laurel squad that reached the Division II state title game in 2008.

As much as he’s enjoyed being a football coach, Manlove said he’s ready to move on. His wife retired in June.

“It’s time for me to go,” he said. “I have no regrets whatsoever. It’s been a great 31 years of coaching.

“It’s not that I don’t love the game, but I’ve lost a little bit of energy for it. It’s just time for somebody else to step in and take it over. … I’m just ready.”

Tattersall still coaching

As impressive as Manlove’s coaching career has been, it would be difficult for anybody to match Bob Tattersall’s numbers at Wilmington Friends.

Named the Quakers’ coach in 1968, the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame inductee became the first Delaware high school caoch to record 300 victories, in 2016.

But, while he’s still officially Friends’ head coach, the 78-year-old Tattersall has had to take a step back this season — his 51st — because of health issues.

Tattersall’s son, Rob, will be the Quakers’ interim head coach on Saturday, as he has been all fall.

The younger Tattersall said his dad still attends practices and games.

“Just when he gets tired, he gets real tired,” said Rob. “Aside from that, he’s there mentally. He’s got too much knowledge and he’s seen it all for us not to use him.

“I need him. There’s been a few times when I’ve had to tell everyone, ‘Be quiet, I want to talk to my Dad.’ Everyone says I’m the interim head coach. No, he’s the head coach.”

Tattersall’s only state title came in 1984. Rob said no decisions have been made yet about his father’s coaching future.

“Since I graduated high school, everyone’s been asking me, ‘When’s your Dad going to retire?’” said the younger Tatersall. “He’s like, ‘Why would I?’ He enjoys doing what he does, and he’s still good at it.”

Knights refocus on finals

Last Friday’s 21-20 state semifinal win over Dover was one of the most emotional games Sussex Central coach John Wells said he’s ever experienced.

But there’s one more game to play.

And Wells did didn’t want any of his players soaking in the thrill of victory for too long.

“We try to live by the 24-hour rule,” Wells said. “Don’t get too high or too low. We told our kids it’s a great win and to enjoy the weekend, but to come back to work Monday.

“It’s an honor to be playing in the last week of the football season.,” Wells added. “Yeah, it was an emotional win, but it’s over. We were actually pretty fortunate, with a couple turnovers, to get out of there and still win the game.”

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