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High school football: Unconventional Arkansas coach that never punts lands college head coaching gig - HIGHSCORE
High school football: Unconventional Arkansas coach that never punts lands college head coaching gig
Kevin Kelley approached and accomplished things on the high school football field few have ever done. The Pulaski Academy (Little Rock, Ark.) head football coach announced Thursday he was leaving his post to take the same job at NCAA FCS program Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C.

The nine-time state champion has earned national attention for his statistical-driven, no-punt, high risk-high reward approach while piling up head-spinning numbers at the small (1,221 enrollment K-12), private, independent school in central Arkansas.

The 51-year-old's revolutionary offenses and methods were featured on segments of 60 Minutes, HBO's Real Sports and NFL Films and he once was a guest speaker at MIT. He was a pioneer of analytics in the high school game.

In 18 seasons, he boasted a record of 216-29-1 and was recently inducted into the Arkansas Hall of Fame.

His rise in fame coincided with the invention of numbers-driven MaxPreps.com and he quickly became the poster coach for entering team and individual statistics. His teams often ranked near or at the top of all offensive categories.
Kevin Kelley, Pulaski Academy
File photo by Rickey Miller
Kevin Kelley, Pulaski Academy
Among the Bruins' remarkable feats since 2004:

* Scoring more than 600 points 13 times and at least 700 seven times, topped out at 790 in 2019 and 789 in 2011.

* That 2011 squad was his only team to finish 15-0. Three other times the Bruins went unbeaten including his final season in 2020 (13-0), the only time they finished No. 1 in the MaxPreps Arkansas computer rankings. They finished ranked second in 2008, 2016 and 2019 and No. 3 in 2011.

* In all but one season (2009), they averaged more than 500 yards per game, while once clearing the 600-yard plateau in 2019. That year, they averaged a ridiculous 648 yards, 439 through the air and 209 on the ground.

* Average yards per game per year since 2010: 529, 537, 513, 556, 516, 581, 550, 571, 597, 648 and 579.

* Points per game since 2014: 50.2, 50.8, 47.8, 56.0, 50.2, 56.4 and 50.7.

* In a 2017 game, the Bruins pilled up what was then a national record 991 total yards during an 86-56 win over Little Rock Christian Academy. Layne Hatcher set a state record with 745 yards passing to go along with nine touchdown passes.

Hatcher is one of the most prolific passers the country has ever seen. He's the state leader with 15,483 career passing yards.  But Hatcher is not nearly alone among Kelley's pupils.

A 2020 story by MaxPreps senior writer and historian Kevin Askeland highlighted that Kelley has coached 12 of the top 100 single-season passing yardage marks in history.
Layne Hatcher, Pulaski Academy's record-setting quarterback in 2017.
File photo
Layne Hatcher, Pulaski Academy's record-setting quarterback in 2017.


High school baseball: Jesuit, IMG Academy, Buford among Florida, Georgia squads dominating HIGHSCORE Top 25 - HIGHSCORE
High school baseball: Jesuit, IMG Academy, Buford among Florida, Georgia squads dominating MaxPreps Top 25
The first national high school baseball rankings of the season find Florida and Georgia dominating the MaxPreps Top 25 as the Sunshine State logs seven teams, including three of the top four while the Peach State is next with five.

With a pair of season-opening wins Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.) holds on to the top spot while IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) started 3-0. The two teams are expected to meet April 20.

The Top 25 rankings only include teams that expect to begin play in the next month. As a result, several teams not expected to begin play until April have been dropped despite holding a spot in the preseason Top 25 rankings.

Dropped out: No. 3 JSerra Catholic (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.); No. 6 Baylor (Chattanooga, Tenn.); No. 10 Thousand Oaks (Calif.); No. 11 Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.); No. 14 Valley Christian (San Jose, Calif.); No. 18 American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.); Ronald Reagan (Pfafftown, N.C.).

Game of the Week: Buford 3, Parkview 0. In a game between Georgia's best, Buford pulled out the win over Parkview behind the pitching of MaxPreps Underclass All-American Dylan Lesko, who had nine strikeouts.

Player of the Week: Jackson Ferris, IMG Academy. Ferris tossed a five-inning no-hitter with 12 strikeouts against Palmetto.

Recruit Watch: Brady House, Winder-Barrow. Considered one of the top 10 players in the nation, House opened his senior year with five RBI in his first three games to boost Winder-Barrow into the rankings.

Game to Watch: IMG Academy vs. Southlake Carroll. The Florida-based school is scheduled to head to Texas this week to take on the Dragons, who have won two Class 6A state championships over the past three years.

Streaks: Webster (Wisc.), led by former MLB pitcher Jarrod Washburn, did not get to play a single game last year, but it has the nation's longest active win streak at 37 games dating back to the 2018 season. Webster is not scheduled to begin play until April 18.
Jackson Ferris, IMG Academy
Photo by Alyson Boyer Rode
Jackson Ferris, IMG Academy
MaxPreps Top 25 Baseball Rankings

1.  Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
Record: 2-0 | Last week: 1
Results: Def. Largo, 9-1; Def. Osceola, 10-3
Stats: Bradke Lohry was 3-for-4 with a double and a triple against Largo while Jake Kulikowski had a home run. Wade Woodaz homered against Osceola while BJ Graham was 3-for-4 with a double.
Next: Friday vs. Tampa Catholic.

Record: 3-0 | Last week: 2
Results: Def. Lakewood Ranch, 2-1; Palmetto, 10-0; and Lakeland, 7-0.
Stats: Jackson Ferris pitched a five-inning no-hitter with 12 strikeouts against Palmetto and Brady Neal had a home run. Drew Gray had 10 strikeouts against Lakeland.
Next: Thursday at Southlake Carroll (Texas), Friday at Flower Mound

Record: 0-0 | Last week: 4
Next: Season opens on March 12

4. Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Record: 2-0 | Last week: 5
Results: Def. Flanagan (Pembroke Pines), 15-5; def. Chaminade-Madonna (Hollywood), 4-0.
Stats: Rene Lastres hit a home run against Flanagan while Irving Carter and Andrew Painter combined for a 1-hitter as each struck out six against Chaminade-Madonna.
Next: Saturday vs. Hialeah Educational Academy.

5. Buford (Ga.)
Record: 3-0 | Last week: 7
Results: Def. Parkview, 3-0; def. Lambert, 7-2; def. Mill Creek, 2-0.
Stats: Dylan Lesko got the win against Parkview, striking out nine. Treyton Rank struck out eight in the win over Mill Creek.
Next: Friday vs. Shiloh.

6. St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake, Mich.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 8
Next: State begins play March 24

7. Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 9
Next: Saturday vs. West Monroe

8. Calvary Christian (Clearwater, Fla.)
Record: 3-0 | Last week: 12
Results: Def. Fivay, 6-1; def. Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate, 10-0; def. River Ridge, 5-4.
Stats: Jack Cebert struck out 11 in the win over Fivay.
Next: Tues. vs. Tarpon Springs; Sat. vs. Lakeland Christian.

9. Lake Travis (Austin, Texas)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 13
Next: Feb. 25 vs. Southlake Carroll and Flower Mound

10. Jackson Prep (Jackson, Miss.)
Record: 3-0 | Last week: 15
Results: Def. Starkville Academy, 1-0; def. Hartfield Academy; def. Heritage Academy, 3-0.
Stats: Will Gibbs struck out 7 against Starkville Academy while Mason Nichols struck out 8 against Hartfield Academy and 8 more against Heritage.
Next: Tues. vs. Starkville Academy; Thurs. vs. Canton Academy.

11. Stoneman Douglas (Parkland, Fla.)
Record: 3-0 | Last week: 16
Results: Def. Belen Jesuit, 7-1; def. American Heritage (Plantation), 1-0; def. St. Thomas Aquinas, 3-2
Stats: Jake Clemente homered against Belen Jesuit. Christian Rodriguez struck out 11 against American Heritage. Santiago Ordonez walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh to beat St. Thomas Aquinas.
Next: Tues. vs. Coral Reef; Thurs. vs. Taravella.

12. Spruce Creek (Port Orange, Fla.)
Record: 2-0 | Last week: NR
Results: Def. Deltona 11-1, def. Seabreeze, 7-0.
Stats: Jarrett Maresco struck out 7 against Deltona while Preston Wetherell struck out six against Seabreeze.
Next: Tues. vs. Olympia; Wed. vs. Viera.

13. Carrollton (Ga.)
Record: 4-0 | Last week: NR
Results: Def. Woodland, 3-2; def. Locust Grove, 3-1; def. North Paulding, 8-4; def. Blessed Trinity, 1-0.
Stats: Bear Madliak had three RBI against North Paulding while Colton Cosper struck out six against Blessed Trinity.
Next: Wed. vs. St. Pius X Catholic; Sat. vs. Ola.

14. North Paulding (Dallas, Ga.)
Record: 3-1 | Last week: NR
Results: Def. Rome 5-1, def. Blessed Trinity, 8-2; def. Locust Grove, 11-2; lost to Carrollton, 8-4.
Stats: Mitchell Heer struck out 14 against Blessed Trinity.
Next: Friday vs. Cedartown, Saturday vs. Pope.

15. Venice (Fla.)
Record: 3-0 | Last week: NR
Results: Def. Palmetto, 1-0; def. Fort Myers, 13-4, 9-4.
Stats: Cole Schumaker had three hits in the 13-4 win over Fort Myers.
Next: Thurs. Vs. Braden River; Friday vs. Sarasota.

16. Vestavia Hills (Ala.)
Record: 6-0 | Last week: NR
Results: Def. Briarwood Christian, 8-2, 8-1; Def. Madison Academy, 7-3, 9-3
Stats: Grayson Dobbins had three RBI in the 8-2 win over Briarwood Christian while Christopher Johnston and Pierce Hanna each had three RBI against Madison Academy.
Next: Thurs. Vs. Oak Mountain, Sat. vs. Austin (Decatur), Sat. vs. Huntsville.

17. Houston County (Warner Robins, Ga.)
Record: 3-0 | Last week: NR
Results: Def. Walton, 17-3; def. North Cobb Christian, 5-2; def. East Paulding, 6-2.
Stats: Gage Harrelson had three hits and three RBI against Walton. Brodie Chestnutt struck out 10 against North Cobb Christian.
Next: Friday vs. Hartselle, Locust Grove

18. Winder-Barrow (Winder, Ga.)
Record: 03-0 | Last week: NR
Results: Def. Archer, 7-3; def. Evans, 6-4; def. Lakeside, 10-0.
Stats: All-America candidate Brady House had two RBI against Archer and three against Lakeside.
Next: Wed. vs. Peachtree Ridge

19. De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 17
Next: March 8 vs. Livermore.

20. Prosper (Texas)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 19
Next: Thurs. at Rangers National Showcase

21. Reagan (San Antonio)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 20
Next: Tues. vs. Lee; Thurs. Round Rock Invitational.

22. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 21
Next: Schedule TBA

23. Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 22
Next: Season opener March 2 vs. Carl Albert

24. Farragut (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 24
Next: March 16-18 Grand Slam Tournament

25. (25) Charlotte Christian (Charlotte, N.C.), 0-0
Record: 0-0 | Last week: 25
Next: March 4 vs. Combine Academy
Viane Cumber named 2020-21 HIGHSCORE New Mexico High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year - HIGHSCORE
Viane Cumber named 2020-21 MaxPreps New Mexico High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized outstanding performers in high school basketball. America's source for high school sports continues the tradition to close out the 2020-21 season by naming the top player in each state. Selections are based on team success and individual excellence, in addition to local and state accolades.

Viane Cumber of Sandia (Albuquerque) is the 2020-21 MaxPreps New Mexico High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year. The 5-foot-10 senior guard led the Matadors to a 7-4 record during a shortened season due to the pandemic.

The University of New Mexico signee averaged 26.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Cumber shot 52 percent from the field and 70 percent at the foul line.

In three seasons and 61 games, Cumber averaged 21.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.3 assists and 2.5 steals. She led the Matadors to 40 combined wins as a sophomore and junior.

New Mexico head coach Mike Bradbury said he was "elated" when Cumber signed with the Lobos: "She brings versatility and size to the guard spot and her ability to score is tremendous," he said. "Her character and work ethic is also a huge asset."
New Mexico Player of the Year Viane Cumber will be staying close to home and playing for the Lobos next season.
Photo by Jim Smith
New Mexico Player of the Year Viane Cumber will be staying close to home and playing for the Lobos next season.
2020 HIGHSCORE High School Football Junior All-America Team - HIGHSCORE
2020 MaxPreps High School Football Junior All-America Team
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized the nation's top high school football players. Past members of the MaxPreps Junior All-America Team include Jadeveon Clowney (2009), Jameis Winston (2010), Derrick Henry (2011), Deshaun Watson (2012), Kyler Murray (2013), Nick Bosa (2014), Najee Harris (2015), Trevor Lawrence (2016), Kayvon Thibodeaux (2017) and D.J. Uiagalelei (2018).

National Junior of the Year selection Travis Hunter of Collins Hill (Suwanee, Ga.) headlines the 2020 MaxPreps High School Football Junior All-America Team. The five-star Florida State commit finished had with 137 receptions for 1,746 yards and 24 touchdowns for the Eagles while recording 51 tackles and eight interceptions on defense.

He led Collins Hill to its first state title game appearance and is a rare athlete who could be a five-star recruit either at cornerback or wide receiver.

Selections are based on team success, individual production and local, regional state honors from the recently completed season. Potential at the college and professional level is not a primary consideration.
Graphic by Ryan Escobar
First Team Offense

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 180
Led the Chaps to a 6A Division 1 state title and No. 3 spot in the final MaxPreps Top 25 rankings. Accounted for over 4,000 yards of total offense (3,495 passing, 583 rushing) and 50 touchdowns.

Height: 5-9 | Weight: 170
MaxPreps Oklahoma Player of the Year rushed for 1,744 yards and 25 touchdowns for the three-time defending 6A-II champs. Added 57 receptions for 727 yards and 10 scores.

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 205
Rushed for 2,155 yards and 30 touchdowns in 11 games.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 195
Oklahoma commit was selected on the Class 3A first team by the Missouri Football Coaches Association.

Height: 5-8 | Weight: 170
Led largest classification in Alabama with 18 total touchdowns and racked up more than 1,600 total yards for the No. 6 team in the country.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 210
The top-rated tight end in his class on 247Sports composite rankings had nearly 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns for the AAA runners-up.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 315
Dominated opposing lineman playing against the best competition.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 265
The top-rated offensive lineman from Texas in his class dominated this season.

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 285
Has landed over 35 FBS offers and excels in pass and run blocking.

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 300
Helped Explorers to an 8-0 record and 8A Tri-County championship in 2020, a season after helping St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) to a 7A state title as a sophomore.

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 315
Clemson commit did not allow a sack during his junior year.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 165
Junior Player of the Year hauled in 137 receptions for 1,746 yards and 24 touchdowns while recording 51 tackles and eight interceptions on defense.

Height: 5-10 | Weight: 145
One of the strongest legs in the country already has offers from Florida, LSU and Tennessee.

First Team Defense

DL Jeremiah Alexander, Thompson (Alabaster, Ala.)
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 235
Former Alabama pledge racked up 116 tackles, 31 tackles for loss and nine sacks for the back-to-back 7A champs.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 225
Played a major role on defense for the 5A state champs, finishing with a team-high 15.5 sacks.
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 255
Four-star defensive tackle had 17 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in 2020.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 240
Has been a standout on the defensive line for the last two years playing against the state's best competition.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 230
Oklahoma commit was a monster during his junior year and has some of the game's most impressive tape.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 195
Does it all at a high level from the linebacker position. Helped the Rockets to a Top 25 finish and back-to-back 6A championships.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 200
One of the most underrated prospects finished with 140 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, five sacks and three interceptions for the ninth-ranked team in the country.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 180
As good as any defensive back in the country, regardless of class.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 170
Recent Ohio State commit made a big-time impact on both sides of the ball.

DB Kamari Wilson, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 195
Ascenders went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the country and Wilson stood out on defense every week.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 190
Bounced back in 2020 and shutdown opposing wide receivers all year after missing sophomore campaign with a torn ACL.

Height: 6-0 | Weight: 180
Five-star recruit hauled in 52 receptions for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns while recording four interceptions on defense.

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 170
Finished eighth in the nation averaging 45.2 yards per punt and also connected on 10-of-15 field goals.

Second Team Offense

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 195
Top-rated 2022 prospect led the Dragons to first state title game appearance since 2011. Finished with 2,442 yards passing and 28 touchdowns in eight games.

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 195
MaxPreps Tennessee Player of the Year rushed for 2,010 yards and 24 touchdowns in nine games.

Height: 5-9 | Weight: 175
MaxPreps Arkansas Player of the Year put up video game numbers for the 5A champs. Rushed for 1,925 yards and 23 touchdowns averaging 10.2 yards per carry to go with 80 receptions for 1,068 yards and nine scores.

WR Cody Hagen, Corner Canyon (Draper, Utah)
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 175
Three-star wide receiver had a touchdown in all 14 games this year and finished with 55 receptions for 1,184 yards and 18 scores for the 6A champs.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 185
Oklahoma commit hauled in 61 receptions for 1,152 yards and 14 touchdowns for the runner-up in 6A-I. 

TE RJ Maryland, Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas)
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 210
Had nearly 800 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns averaging over 24 yards per catch for the No. 15 team in the nation.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 295
Clemson commit is one of the most physical and athletic offensive lineman in the game.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 315
Eagles have had some great offensive lineman come through their program and Dewberry continues that legacy.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 255
Dominated on both sides of the ball. He's also a standout pitcher in baseball.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 315
LSU commit helped the Saints to an undefeated season and 5A state title.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 305
One of the best all-around offensive lineman in the country has already landed 30 FBS offers.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 220
The 2018 Freshman of the Year accounted for over 4,700 yards of total offense (3,128 passing, 1,581 rushing) and 71 touchdowns.

Height: 6-0 | Weight: 175
Helped Cougars to first state championship game appearance since 1960. Connected on 16-of-19 field goals as a junior.

Second Team Defense

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 250
Made an impact on defense and helped Trojans to first state title since 2015 and a No. 12 spot in the MaxPreps Top 25.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 300
Top-rated defensive tackle in the Class of 2022 dominated in the trenches during his junior year.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 325
Raiders won their first state title since 2002 and Alexander was a standout player for the No. 8 team in the country.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 215
Expect the Power 5 offers to start coming for "Deuce" after a strong junior season. He racked up 13.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss playing against Arizona's best competition.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 200
Top-rated outside linebacker dominated on both sides of the ball.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 220
Selected to the Ohio All-State first team after registering 61 tackles, six tackles for loss, four sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception. The Ohio State commit added 594 yards rushing and six touchdowns on offense.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 215
Can line up anywhere on defense and play at a high level. The Ohio State pledge checks in as the third-rated outside linebacker in the Class of 2022 on 247Sports.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 190
Eighth-rated prospect in the Class of 2022 can lock down any wide receiver in the country.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 200
Played a major role on defense for the No. 4 team and three-time defending 6A state champs.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 170
Quarterbacks rarely looked his direction during his junior season and he also shined on offense in 2020.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 220
Ohio State commit was named the MaxPreps Kansas Player of the Year after a strong junior season.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 195
Magic happens when he gets his hands on the ball. The five-star prospect impacts the game at high level in all three phases.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 180
Averaged better than 41 yards per punt and connected on 15-of-17 field goals. Was a first team selection on the Georgia All-State team as a kicker.
May Manning adds own title to one of America's most famous sports families - HIGHSCORE
May Manning adds own title to one of America's most famous sports families
It's been almost three weeks, but May Manning still has trouble piecing together the final, frantic yet joyous sequence of her last competitive high school volleyball match.

But she vividly recalls the feeling. And it hasn't left her.

"It happened so fast," she said. "I still get chills every time I watch that last point."

The fifth-year varsity player and third-year captain dove so hard to the Pontchartrain Center floor for a dig that she didn't hear the referee's final whistle. An opposing hitter had brushed the net. It was point, set and match, and triggered a wild, raucous celebration near midcourt.

The Academy of the Sacred Heart (New Orleans), a small all-girls Roman Catholic school founded in 1867, had won the Louisiana state Division IV girls volleyball championship in four sets Nov. 14 over favored Pope John Paul II.
May Manning played her fifth season as outside hitter and middle blocker in 2020 for the state-champion Cardinals.
Photo by Gregory Juan
May Manning played her fifth season as outside hitter and middle blocker in 2020 for the state-champion Cardinals.
May, the oldest grandchild of New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning and niece of future NFL Hall of Famers Peyton and Eli, was awarded the game's Most Valuable Player plaque, thanks to 14 kills and some tenacious defense.

"I saw everyone on the dog pile," she said. "I was late to the celebration. I said (to her team), ‘It's over? It's over?' Of course everyone was crying and yelling and cheering. I was on Cloud Nine. I don't really remember all the details from there. I was so overcome with emotion and joy. There was so much happiness."

For so many reasons.

It was the Cardinals' first state crown since 2006, and 14th overall, and came against a squad that had won three titles in four years and downed Sacred Heart earlier in the season.

"We went into the playoffs thinking, 'Hey, we're the underdogs here. Let's take advantage of that and surprise some people,' " May said.

The Sacred Heart title came a season after a 2019 dud that ended below .500 and with an early playoff exit, followed by a year that was beaten and battered by COVID-19. Practice schedules and matches were altered or skipped; fans were required to largely stay home.

"We were just lucky to play this year," May said.

Especially fortunate for May who knew she wouldn't play after 2020. Her focus by next summer will be on college, academics and new surroundings. A game she's played year-round for Cajunland Volleyball since she was 9 would be in the rear view mirror.

"It feels funny that that was my last volleyball match ever," she said. "It's bittersweet that it's over. But that's the only way you want to end a career. With a state title."

Especially with all the family who had given her so much in attendance, all decked out in bright Cardinal reds and Sacred Heart swag.

Mom and May
Leading the charge was her mom Ellen, a 1987 Sacred Heart graduate and talented 5-9 middle hitter on the volleyball team. May's mother, then Ellen Heidingsfelder, and current assistant coach Betsy Laborde (then Becker) propelled the Cardinals to the school's first state title as seniors in 1986. 

Ellen, like May, was named the championship game's MVP of that title game, a fact she didn't reveal until after last month's match.
Ellen (left) and May Manning each led their Academy of the Sacred Heart teams to state titles.
Photo courtesy of the Manning family
Ellen (left) and May Manning each led their Academy of the Sacred Heart teams to state titles.
"I never told her because I didn't want to put that kind of pressure on her," Ellen said. "This was her deal, but when they announced (May) won the same award it was like ‘Oh yeah, our careers do kind of parallel.' … It's not like, ‘Whoa back in my day,' but we did go to the same school and our banner is up there on the wall. We have the first and May's team will go up soon as the most recent. That will be fun."

Being a Sacred Heart athlete is in May Manning's genes as her mother and late grandmother Dot both attended along with Ellen's two sisters. Ellen was recently inducted into the Sacred Heart Sports Hall of Fame, and the strong influence of women athletes on her mom's side makes May proud.

This Manning family isn't just an old boys' network. 

"I definitely think her accomplishments get forgotten because the Mannings are so much in the spotlight," May said. "The Mannings are great athletes but I get my volleyball talents and ability from my mom. She could really pop the ball from what I've heard."

Ellen downplays her own glory days. This was May's time and Sacred Heart's return to the top.

"It was so much fun because it was so unexpected," she said. "I think they surprised themselves. ... It was a fabulous way to end her volleyball career. She ended on a high note. It was icing on the cake. I'm still smiling about it."

Dad and May
May's dad Cooper is grinning also. He is the oldest of Archie and Olivia's three boys and by many accounts, the most athletic.

A quarterback-turned-receiver, Cooper likely would've been the first Manning son to reach the NFL if a serious back ailment (spinal stenosis) hadn't ended his football career as a freshman at the University of Mississippi. It was a cruel and tough setback for Cooper, the husband and father of three who landed squarely and softly on his feet in the real estate market and as a TV host on Fox's "The Manning Hour." He's done well as Principal and Senior Managing Director of Investor Relations for AJ Capital Partners. 

But he struck gold meeting Ellen, a licensed attorney, and the couple have been married 21 years. They also have raised two athletic boys, Arch Manning and Heid Manning, both members of the Newman (New Orleans) football squad. The Greenies (8-0), the top seed in the Division III playoffs, host Catholic (New Iberia) at 7 p.m. today in a quarterfinal game.

Arch is the nation's top-rated sophomore quarterback and Heid, a promising freshman offensive lineman.

"When Coop and I decided to have kids it was decided he'd be the breadwinner and I run the household," Ellen said. "It has worked out perfectly so we stuck with it."
May Manning with her father Cooper Manning.
Photo courtesy of the Manning family
May Manning with her father Cooper Manning.
Cooper didn't just spend time running the boys to ball fields. May played as many sports as the boys, maybe more, including swimming, gymnastics, soccer and tennis. Cooper, in fact, did most of the traveling with May to out-of-area volleyball tournaments. 

"We've had a lot of late Sunday night drives home and a lot of late airport layovers together," he said. "It's been a lot of fun; everything about it. It's been a terrific bonding experience with my daughter. She's always been a delight to be there for.

"Selfishly, it was neat to see it all come together for her last game of her career. A lot of girls playing and all their parents have been through the same journey. It was really sweet. May and all those girls put in a lot of work. It's been a rough year for a lot of seniors across the country in sports. I'm thrilled they got something to hang onto that was so positive."

He admitted getting pretty choked up when May got the MVP award.

"It was well deserved," Cooper said. "They had a lot of different girls all season that could have been MVP. But May never comes off the court. I would say she was their vocal leader."

The boys
There was plenty of hollering during May's championship match from her younger brothers, along with a group of other Newman football players behind the Pope John Paul II bench.

The Manning siblings are tight and all within four years in age. The boys would have made more volleyball matches this season, but COVID restrictions kept them away. Nothing restricted them on championship day. May noticed all the Greenies, dressed in Sacred Heart colors, and even volleyball practice jerseys.
The Manning family left-to-right: Arch, Heid, Ellen, May and Cooper.
Photo courtesy of the Manning family
The Manning family left-to-right: Arch, Heid, Ellen, May and Cooper.
"They must have raided my closet," she said. "They took all the Sacred Heart gear they could find. It was great."

Roughly 300 fans were allowed into the title match and the football kids were perhaps the loudest. Their enthusiasm and excitement has barely simmered. 

"The boys were super proud of their sister," Ellen said. "Arch told me the following week, ‘Mom, I've been smiling all weekend about it.' People, he said, were congratulating him. It's just been a neat experience for all of us."

Sibling competition can sometime get complicated, especially in a spotlighted home like the Mannings.

Arch, for instance, was the 2019 MaxPreps national Freshman of the Year and recently he played and was featured on ESPNU. He's considered one of the most coveted recruits from any class and recognizable prep athletes in the country.

Cooper, with a unique perspective, said sibling rivalries don't exist in the household and he's rarely had to address it, if at all.

"They all support and love each other," he said. "Everyone is equally excited for others' successes. If I ever have to talk about it, I would simply say: ‘Look at me. I'm a guy who has two brothers that won Super Bowls and been on the highest level and I've been nothing but thrilled for them. Jealousy is a nasty thing, so let's never go there.' "

May jokes about Arch's sudden arc to stardom in the last year.

"It's obviously weird when you see your little brother on national TV and 20 minutes later he's complaining about something or eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes at the kitchen table," she said. "It's like, ‘Wait, is this the same person?'

"As we've gotten older we've got closer. All our friends hang out together. But he'll always be my little brother. It will definitely be weird seeing him on TV in interviews or getting fan mail later. I don't think any of it right now affects him. He's oblivious to it sometimes. He doesn't realize that it's kind of a big deal. … Arch is probably one of the most humble people I've ever known."

Family matters
May's grandparents Archie and Olivia (Cooper's parents) and Charles Heidingsfelder (Ellen's father) also attended her championship match. They've been there every step of the way, May said. 

"They (Archie and Olivia) raised just boys playing football, basketball and baseball, so they'd never been to a swim meet, gymnastics events or girls basketball and soccer games, yet they were there for me," May said. "He (Heidingsfelder) told me after the match that between his daughters and other grandchildren he'd been going to matches for 40 years and that our match was his last. It was a great finish for him, too."
Front row (L-R): Heid Manning, Ellen Manning. Backrow (L-R): Charles Heidingsfelder, Jane Heidingsfelder, Archie Manning, May Manning, Olivia Manning, Arch Manning and Cooper Manning.
Photo courtesy of the Manning family
Front row (L-R): Heid Manning, Ellen Manning. Backrow (L-R): Charles Heidingsfelder, Jane Heidingsfelder, Archie Manning, May Manning, Olivia Manning, Arch Manning and Cooper Manning.

Dot joined Charles at many of May's games before a long bout with Parkinson's disease and dementia was finally cut short in March by COVID-19. Dot was 77. 

"She went to all the games even when she wasn't her best," Ellen said. "I wear a little bracelet that says 'Mom' on it. (Before last month's title match) I said 'OK mom, let's go root on May.' She would have been thrilled."

That kind of support from family and friends has helped May thrive, she said, and live easy in The Big Easy — even as a Manning.

"I think my friends and Arch's friends make it all so normal, so comfortable," May said. "It's not as big a deal as it might seem. Obviously my grandfather played for the Saints, my uncles played in the NFL. Everyone in New Orleans knows the Mannings and is so used to it."

Going to Sacred Heart has also helped with the spotlight or possible scrutiny, she said.

"To be honest, I've never felt pressure to succeed or play sports or anything," she said. "Not from my family, my friends or people in New Orleans. I really think going to an all-girls school helped with that.

"I'm sorta trying to start my own legacy. It is more May vs. May Manning which has been a blessing. If I do feel pressure, it's me putting pressure on myself, not anyone else. I'm lucky for that."

Ultimately, her healthy perspective comes back to a balanced, enthusiastic family who shows its true color, whether at championship matches or practice or school.

"I think it's everybody — my parents, my grandparents, my brothers," she said. "It's just having such a huge support system that's so separate from football.

"From the beginning my parents made it clear: ‘You like sports, play sports. If you don't like sports, you don't have to do it.' I do it for me because I love to compete and I love my teams."

For the first time, she's attempting four sports this school year, including basketball currently, and golf and tennis in the spring. She's been on the tennis team since the sixth grade.

She said the best way to cap her senior season would be if her brothers dive in and grab Newman's first football state title. 

"Arch told me how cool it was to watch us win the state title and I told him 'I hope y'all win one too,' " May said. "It's the best feeling ever."
May Manning helped lead Academy of the Sacred Heart to its 14th state title but first since 2006 last month.
Photo by Gregory Juan
May Manning helped lead Academy of the Sacred Heart to its 14th state title but first since 2006 last month.
Ellen Manning (Heidingsfelder) sits in the middle front row right behind the 1986 Academy of the Sacred Heart state title trophy. To her left is Betsy Laborde (Becker) who was an assistant coach for the Cardinals in 2020.
Photo courtesy of the Manning family
Ellen Manning (Heidingsfelder) sits in the middle front row right behind the 1986 Academy of the Sacred Heart state title trophy. To her left is Betsy Laborde (Becker) who was an assistant coach for the Cardinals in 2020.
Newman football players pose with state champion May Manning.
Photo courtesy of the Manning family
Newman football players pose with state champion May Manning.