Jaxon Manning now an even greater threat on offense by getting more involved as a passer

Matt Hollinshead
Farmington Daily Times
After tallying 20 goals and 20 assists last season, Kirtland Central's Jaxon Manning, seen here during practice on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at KCHS,  is preparing to draw more double and triple coverage on the attack and set up extra scoring chances for teammates this season.

KIRTLAND — There’s one critical 2019 stat line that illustrates just how much of a threat on the attack Jaxon Manning can be: 20 assists.

The Kirtland Central soccer midfielder can hold his own in one-on-one situations with his 6-foot-4 frame — resulting in a 20-goal campaign in 2019 and bracing for possible double or triple coverage from foes.

When an extra help defender zeroes in on him, Manning can use his height to scan the field and pass the ball off to the likes of Anesio Villegas, Kyler Joe and Dimas Villalobos Hunt.

Following the departure of fellow midfielder Colten Warner, who also tallied 20 assists in 2019, Manning is ready to be more involved as a distributor, all while remaining an imposing goal scorer.

“(Teams) will try and pay extra attention to me... Even if it’s fast-paced, I can usually get a better view than most people. I’d be able to see my forwards a lot better and where I need to put the ball for them,” Manning said. “I’m prepared to hopefully do better and make sure that I help my team as best I can.”

Still, Manning’s opportunities to get others involved begin with the mere sight of him touching the ball.

“He intimidates those around him, so they give him space… as an attacking midfielder, he’s very dangerous, very, very dangerous,” Kirtland coach Leonel Camacho said. “He’s got good vision, and he’s calm in the middle. He doesn’t fret... He's good at dishing it off when he's got that extra pressure.”

Camacho said Manning’s primary role in setting up teammates will be to draw in that extra defender to ensure there’s an open gap Kirtland’s forwards can reach.

And Manning still won’t hesitate to launch a 30-yard shot into the upper corner of the net.

“There’s a lot of defenders that are faster than me, but I can usually use my body and they can’t really get around me. That’s very helpful. It can help me create space and take some shots,” Manning said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports and business for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577, and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: