That’s quite a compliment from the man who has probably coached more great backs than any coach in area history or New Hampshire history.
They include Notre Dame’s Ryan Mihalko, Holy Cross All-American Joe Segreti, UMass national champion Matt Jordan.
“Manny has everything that Division 1 college football programs are looking for,” O’Reilly said.
The football field is where Latimore is most at home. It is his sanctuary. It is where, since he first strapped up a helmet as a youngster, he has befuddled defenders and wowed fans.
It is also where Manny feels the greatest connection to the father he lost. Where he feels that link to his idol who introduced him to the game so long ago.
“I always think about him,” said Manny. “During games I talk to myself as if I was talking to him. When I am struggling I will say, ‘Help me out on this play, Dad. Get me through this.’”
Standing on the sidelines every day in those younger years was Phil, guiding his son through the rough world of football.
“The two of them definitely did it together,” Adine said.
Last season was Latimore’s true breakout campaign, earning Eagle-Tribune All-Star honors after rushing 1,504 yards and scoring 29 touchdowns and again leading the Astros to the title game.
If he repeated those numbers this fall he’d finish with 3,976 rushing yards and 72 TDs. That would place him 10th in rushing and fifth in scoring in the modern area all-time leaders.
It may require a year of prep school or time in junior college to lift his grades, but with numbers like those, Latimore is certainly on the radar of all the New England 1-AA colleges.
While his father may not be there to cheer him on, the Latimore family is still a major presence from the stands.