A Mannering will once again be leading the Lewis Cass football program.
Clayton Mannering was hired as the Kings’ new head football coach at Wednesday’s school board meeting.
Mannering is the son of Hall of Fame coach Scott Mannering, who won 223 games in 30 seasons (7.4 per season) at Cass. He won 10 Mid-Indiana Conference titles along with seven sectionals, four regionals and one semistate.
Clayton Mannering, 32, is a 2006 Cass grad. He was a standout running back and linebacker for the Kings, who went 13-1 his senior year with the lone loss coming in a semistate game against Jimtown, 28-13, in 2005.
“I’m fired up. I’m a Cass guy, a Cass grad,” Mannering said. “I’m obviously very familiar with the program, I grew up on the sideline so to speak. So this is always a job I had my eye on. The opportunity felt right this time around with coach [Jeff] Phillips giving it up. I put my name in and wanted to make sure it was a good fit, but it was pretty obvious after the interview that it was a good fit for me and my family. Of course I’m glad to see that was reciprocated.”
Mannering will teach high school English at Cass. Mannering, who grew up in Walton, added he and his wife, Megan, plan to move back to the area this summer.
Mannering added his father, who is retiring from teaching this spring at Twin Lakes, will join him on the coaching staff at Cass.
“He’s the first guy I asked, ‘Are you going to coach with me?’ And he said yes. So I’m going to have the best assistant coach in the state, which I’m very fired up about. So that’s going to be neat just from a family standpoint but also a professional standpoint. I say that a little tongue in cheek, but it’s true, there’s no better resource I can have on the sidelines with me.
“I’m still too early on to say what everybody’s going to be coaching and all that stuff, but yeah, you can count on him being a part of that staff for sure.”
Mannering has been an assistant coach at DePauw University the past seven years. His wife was an assistant track coach at DePauw.
“We love it, it’s a great place to be,” Mannering said. “But I’ve always felt deep down that the high school level was where I belonged and where I would really be best at what I do. So we will miss DePauw for sure, we’ve done some great things there, but this opportunity was really too good to pass up.”
Prior to his time at DePauw, Mannering taught English at Goshen High School for a year before being a graduate assistant at Carthage College in Wisconsin for two years. He earned a Master’s degree in education at Carthage.
Mannering joined the DePauw coaching staff when Bill Lynch was hired there in 2013.
“In these last several years any time you’re at DePauw or Wabash, it’s all about the Monon Bell. It’s certainly easier to leave DePauw with the Bell in the lobby there. I’m very proud of what we’ve done there and we’ve had some really nice seasons these last seven years.”
The Kings traditionally run the wing-T offense. They’ve added the spread offense to that in recent years and Mannering hinted there could be more additions.
“I want this to be my program. We’re going to change things a little bit in terms of what we’re doing offensively and defensively. But there are certain non-negotiables at Cass as well. We want to be the hardest working team on the field. Defensively we’re going to be physical and fly around. Offensively we’ve got to be able to run the football. Those are the non-negotiables. That’s how I was raised and how I started my football career in high school,” he said.
“We’re going to do some similar things in the run game. My background, I’ve been coaching at the college level for the last nine years, so I certainly think that shotgun and quarterback runs are going to be a part of our offense. We’re going to try to develop a drop-back quarterback pass game, more so than certainly when I was at Cass but even more a little bit than these last few years.”
Mannering was a key part of one of the great Lewis Cass football teams in 2005.
“We never made it to the state championship but amongst my group of buddies at least we always remind ourselves we had the best winning percentage in Cass football history,” he said.
He then went on to play football at Hanover College as an outside linebacker for four years.
“In college I’m most proud of turning the program around. We went from 2-8 my sophomore year to 7-3 my senior year. I got to do that with my brother and that was an awesome experience,” he said.
His brother Rory is now an assistant coach at Denison College in Ohio.
The Kings will have to replace a great senior class that won the first Hoosier Conference title in program history and eighth sectional title.
“To be honest, I have not gotten a chance to watch a lot of film. Of course I followed this year’s team online and in the newspaper and things, I know we’re losing a lot of special talent on the team,” Mannering said. “But first of all, I’ll say this, I want to win this year and I made that clear in the interview. There’s enough talent in the school to win. But I also know I’m taking this job for the long haul. The fact is at a 2A school you’re going to have some ups and downs with talent and that’s part of it. So I’m pretty clear about that going in. You’re not going to be in the state championship game every single year and that’s all right. But I’m going to build a culture the way I want it, the way I think it needs to be at Cass. So whether that means a state championship or a winning record, we’re going to go about things the same way regardless of how much talent there is on the field.”