DRUMMOND – Senior Colby Manley will be a member of the Battlin’ Bears starting next fall.
Manley, who was the starting running back for the two-time, defending state champion 8-man football Flint Creek Titans, inked his scholarship deal with Rocky Mountain College Wednesday afternoon at Drummond High School.
“It really hasn’t sunk in yet that Rocky has given me the opportunity,” said Manley after he signed the papers Wednesday afternoon. “I’m glad that all of the work I put in during the offseason finally paid off.”
Rocky Mountain College is the Battlin’ Bears and hired a new head coach in December in Christ Stutzriem. Stutzriem was an assistant with the program from 2016-2017, leaving to take an assistant head coaching position at Southwestern Oklahoma State. When the position back at RMC opened up, he jumped at the chance to come back.
Stutzriem indicated that Manley will be part of a field of more than 100 players to start the 2019 season and will to earn his way into playing time.
“That’s one of the parts I’m really excited about,” Manley added. “That’ll make me even better, having to compete for playing time.”
“We’re planning to play him at ‘H’ back, said Stutzriem of Manley. “It’s not a halfback and it’s not a full back, it’s in between and what we call and ‘H’ back. So he’ll be in the backfield off the ball, used in the run game and the passing game.”
Manley injured his right foot in the Titans’ semifinal game against Shelby Nov. 10. He did not return to that game and made only a small appearance in the championship win over Great Falls Central a week later. When asked if was concerned about the foot that Manley had surgery on just a few weeks ago, Stutzriem said, “No, he’s doing pretty good with rehab right now. We’re in a position where we’re gonna take it slow. He wants to play in the All-State games.”
Manley played for the Titans all four years of his prep career – two under former head coach Jim Oberweiser and two under current head coach Mike Cutler.
“From the first times he wanted to play football in junior high it was his dream to play college football and now it’s coming true,” reflected Cutler with a smile. “It’s exciting and nerve racking at the same. It’s a whole different ball game that he’s about to get into. The speed and strength of the other guys is new. (His chances) are very good. He’s got a work ethic and that a big part of it. Very few kids get to go to college football and play right away so he’s got to pay his dues. … I think he’s got a great chance.”
Manley is the all-time leading rusher for the Titans with 2,900 yards. He saved his best season for last, collecting 1,183 yards in 13 games. Manley’s foot kept him from significant playing time in the final two games of the season. Had he maintained his 118 yards per game average in those two contests, he would have easily broken the 3,000 yard career mark.
No one may know just what chances Manley has at the next level better then Flint Creek Co-Head Coach J.C. Holland. Holland has watched Manley since his early youth, with his son Luke playing alongside Manley on a variety of school athletic teams. Holland has both watched and coached Manley for over a decade and thinks his player has a good shot to get some time at Rocky Mountain.
“It’s awesome. It’s neat to see the kid get a chance to pay for some school and get an opportunity to play,” said Holland. “I think he has a great shot at playing some college football. It’ll take him a year or two to work into it and a year to learn the 11-man game. He’ll be playing a position similar to what he played for us.”