Sometime soon, maybe Ray Manuel will announce he plans to play his college football at some school in Antarctica.
Hey, it wouldn't be the first time he changed his mind about something.
Saturday, on an artificial turf field (at Palisades High) in the hinterlands portion of upper Bucks County that wound up being covered by 3 inches of snow, Manuel's strong play at multiple defensive positions helped West Catholic High top North Schuylkill, 19-14, in a PIAA Class AA quarterfinal.
"I never knew what it was like to play in the snow," he said. "After going through that, I don't want to play in it again even though we won."
We take you back about 10 years.
Manuel's stepfather, Raymont Barefield, an off-the-charts sports fanatic, is trying to get him involved in something, anything. His favorite sport is football and, darn it, that's going to be Ray's.
"I was a lazy kid," Ray said, laughing. "I wasn't used to running around. I wanted to do basketball, but he said it was going to be football.
"He signed me up for the Mount Airy Bantams. I didn't like getting hit. I wanted to quit after the first week. He wouldn't let me. He kept me going until I got the hang of it."
And long thereafter.
"Through my time with the Bantams and West, he has been to every one of my games. Has never missed one. He has pulled me through everything."
Manuel's stepdad and mother, Winnie Barefield, have provided strong support in numerous ways manners for the 5-9, 170-pound senior co-captain; witness that he boasts a 4.0 GPA and is being eyed by schools such as Georgetown.
Saturday, though, they couldn't do much for him. Altering the weather is not among their skills.
"When we first went out on the field, with just helmets on, there was a light snow coming down," Manuel said. "Then we went into the locker room and came back out \[with full equipment\] and it was coming down pretty hard.
"Our specialty at West Catholic is speed. The snow made everyone pretty much the same speed. That made things tougher, but we still got the win."
Manuel's contributions included a team-high nine tackles; eight were solos and one produced a loss. He also forced a fumble (it led to one of John Ruppert's two recoveries) and broke up a pass.
For the moment, he figures he'll learn about business management in his first year of college to see if he likes it. But maybe coaching is in his future.
Manuel was mostly lining up at strong safety/outside linebacker as the game began. North Schuylkill kept favoring the middle on its non-stop runs.
"Being out there on the edge, I wasn't getting to be a strong factor," he said. "I asked the coaches if we could put in a system where I could move to free safety and just roam the field. It worked out. It was slippery and I fell a few times. But when I did, my teammates had my back."
West's touchdowns were scored by Quran Kent (76-yard pass from Jarred Evans), Kevin Malone (42-yard interception return) and Brian Mosby (20-yard run). Brandon Hollomon, one of Manuel's former Bantam teammates, added 74 yards on 17 carries. Dante Dickens and Ruppert split 18 tackles, while Jim Lynch made eight.
After drawing within 19-14, NS had three more chances and each possession began inside West's territory. The Burrs were staunch.
Their next outing, a state semifinal, will be Saturday at 1, at Coatesville High, against Lancaster Catholic. At this time of year, white stuff cannot be ruled out.