MAN — After enduring seasons of 4-6, 2-8 and 2-8 the last three years since making it to the Wheeling carpet in 2009 things have turned around quickly for the Man High School football team this fall.
With a more seasoned team coming into the grid campaign and with good skilled position players and linemen the Hillbillies felt pretty good about their team as summer camp broke.
Man opened up the season with a 40-20 loss at home to Class AAA county rival Logan but were not disheartened.
Several big games were ahead and the improved Billies were determined to turn things around.
They have done just that.
Heading into Friday night’s game at fellow Class A team Sherman, Man stands at 5-1 as the Billies have reeled off five straight wins.
Man, ranked No. 4 in the state, hopes to extend its winning streak to six games with a win at Seth over the Tide.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Sherman High School football field.
After falling to the Wildcats on Aug. 30 in the opener, Man got the ball rolling with a 44-0 win at Class AA Mount View.
Then on Sept. 13, another Double-A team fell to Man as the Billies won 22-14 at Westside.
Week 3 on Sept. 20 was then the big eyebrow raiser as Man destroyed then Class AA No. 7-ranked River View, 46-8, in the Man Hall of Fame Game.
Then after a bye week, Man came back a bit rusty and avoided a letdown at Fayetteville as the Billies won 30-25 on Oct. 4 over the Pirates.
Last week, Man made it five straight wins with a 26-22 homecoming victory over Class AA county rival Chapmanville.
It was another big win for the Billies.
Man beat the Tigers for the first time since 2005 and defeated another 2A team — a key in the WVSSAC point standings system — as the Billies rose two spots in the computer rankings.
Man 12th-year head coach Harvey Arms said his team is focused on the task at hand.
And that is to beat Sherman this week and run the table the rest of the season.
“We feel like the kids are playing very well and they are consistent and focused on what we have to do on the field,” Arms said. “We’re having good practices and we’re pleased with the way that it’s gone so far.”
Sherman, a Class A team, comes into the contest with just a 2-5 record. The Tide lost 27-0 to Boone County rival Van last week. The Van Bulldogs (3-3) are the Billies opponent in the season finale on Nov. 8 at Man.
Man also plays two other Class A teams — Oct. 25 at home against Pocahontas County (2-5) and Nov. 1 at Tug Vallley (2-5).
With Man’s remaining foes having a combined 9-18 record, the Billies will be favored to win all four remaining games. If that happens, Man will be 9-1 and will most likely have homefield advantage for the playoffs.
Coach Arms said he must guard his team against overconfidence.
“That’s always the case,” Arms said. “We stress with our team that we have to worry about what we do and us getting better. We can’t look at records because we know that it’s the time of the year that most teams are still improving. We don’t look at the past and records. We have to play every week like it’s a big game every week because we’re looking to get into the playoffs. We have to stay focused and we have to keep improving ourselves.”
Despite the losing record, Sherman is still a pretty good football team, Arms said.
“They have a varied offense,” he said. “They throw the ball pretty well and they also throw the ball. From what we’ve seen of them they are pretty balanced. They are not loaded up all run or all pass. They also have a good receiver that has made some good catches. We’ll have to play good defense and we’ll have to be alert and ready on all fronts.”
Man maybe without starting running back Braden Griffen, who was banged up last week in the Chapmanville game.
“I don’t know about Braden Griffin. He didn’t play in the second half last week,” Arms said. “I don’t know if he will be able to go this week or not. He’s day to day but one of the strong points that we’ve had this year is that we’ve had so many players than can run with the ball.”
Man has outscored its opponents 168-69 since the Logan game.
On the season, the Billies are outscoring its foes 188-109.
Man is looking for its fifth playoff berth in the Arms era. The Billies made playoff appearances in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009.
The Billies were 3-1 in the 2009 playoffs, beating Parkersburg Catholic (25-20), Fayetteville (37-26) and Richwood (27-20) in home post-season games and falling to Weirton Madonna (27-7) in the Class A state championship game at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Man was a winner over Hamlin (14-0) in the first round of the 2005 playoffs but lost at Williamstown (26-12) in the quarterfinals.
In the 2004 playoffs, Man lost 47-0 at Madonna in the opening round.
In the 2008 post-season, the Billies won at Mount Hope (27-6), but fell at Williamstown (21-16) in the quarterfinals.
2013 Man High School
Football Schedule (5-1):
Aug. 30: Logan, L 20-40
Sept. 6: at Mount View, W 44-0
Sept. 13: at Westside, W 22-14
Sept. 20: River View (Hall of Fame Game), W 46-8
Sept. 27: OPEN DATE
Oct. 4: at Fayetteville, W 30-25
Oct. 11: Chapmanville (Homecoming), W 26-22
Oct. 18: at Sherman, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: Pocahontas County, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1: at Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: Van, 7:30 p.m.