MAN, W.Va. — If the Man High School football team makes the playoffs this year one thing is for certain.
The Hillbillies will be battle-tested.
Man beefed up its schedule even more with the addition of Keyser, a perennial Class AA playoff team in the state of West Virginia.
Man, 5-5 last year in its first season back in the Double-A ranks in more than a decade, dropped Single-A Van from its schedule and add Keyser.
The Billies are scheduled to host Keyser on Oct. 6 in their annual homecoming game.
Man just released its 2017 schedule and there will be other changes.
Instead of playing county rival Chapmanville Regional near the mid point of the season, the Billies will play the Tigers in Week 11 on Nov. 3 on Senior Night in the regular season finale.
Man is scheduled to open the season once again with its other county rival, Logan, on Aug. 25, at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
The Billies then travel to Mount View on Sept. 1 and then go to Westside on Sept. 8 before observing a bye week on Sept. 15.
Man then hosts River View on Sept. 22 in the annual Man Hall of Fame Game before hosting Lincoln County on Sept. 29 and then the Keyser Golden Tornado the following week.
Man then has two more tough games on the road Oct. 13 at Bluefield and Oct. 20 at Point Pleasant before going to Class A Tug Valley on Oct. 27.
The game with Chapmanville then closes out the regular season.
Man had added Bluefield and Point Pleasant to last year’s schedule.
Keyser will be a difficult opponent for the Hillbillies. The Golden Tornado, however, will be making a very long trip to Man from the eastern panhandle, a 309-mile trek and a nearly five-hour journey.
Keyser, coached by Sean Biser, have reached the Class AA playoffs 11 times in the last 13 years.
The Golden Tornado went 8-4 last year, falling 32-8 at eventual state champion Mingo Central in the second round of the playoffs. Keyser won 50-12 at Nicholas County in the opening round.
Keyser had a tough defense last year with shutout wins over Berkeley Springs (49-0) and Frankfort (48-0). The Golden Tornado also won over Petersburg (67-15), Weir (28-14), Hampshire (41-7), Robert C. Byrd (50-7) and Mountain Ridge, Md. (49-7).
Keyser had three regular season losses to Fort Hill, Md. (41-0), Allegany, Md. (31-8) and Bridgeport (24-13).
Keyser only missed the playoffs twice in the last 13 years with 5-5 marks in 2010 and 2005.
The Golden Tornado’s most successful season during the span was a 12-2 mark in 2012 when Keyser advanced all the way to the Class AA state championship game before falling 35-0 to Wayne at Wheeling Island Stadium after playoff wins over Mingo Central, Scott and Bridgeport.
Keyser was 9-3 in 2015 and lost in the second round of the playoffs.
The Golden Tornado was 7-4 in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, falling in the opening round.
In 2011, Keyser was 7-5 and and in 2009 was 8-4, losing in the second round of the post-season.
Back in 2008, Keyser had a 10-0 regular season but was upset 23-19 by Magnolia in the playoffs.
Keyser went 8-4 in the 2004 and 2006 seasons and had a second-round exits. In 2007, the Golden Tornado had a 7-4 record and lost in the opening round.
Keyser was led last season by quarterback Brady Ours. He was just 5-for-17 passing for 79 yards and one touchdown and three interceptions in last year’s playoff game with Mingo Central. He had 70 yards on the ground.
Man started out last year with a 4-1 record. After a season-opening loss at Logan (48-13), the Billies reeled off four straight wins over Mount View (45-44 in 3 OT), Westside (27-14), River View (7-0 in OT) and Lincoln County (25-10).
Man then lost four straight to Chapmanville (40-21), Bluefield (24-21), Point Pleasant (41-0) and Tug Valley (12-6) to get outsted from playoff contention.
The Billies won 46-7 over Van in the finale.
Man loses several players due to graduation, including starting quarterback Cameron Simpson, who passed for 567 yards and rushed for a team-best 335 yards and nine touchdowns last year.
Also lost to graduation are: Nick Collins, Dustin McCoy, Buren Maynor, Matt Sanders, Kyle Browning, Jake Frye, Tyler Blair, Hunter Mangus, Seth Chapman, Austin Bragg, Steve Ramey, Kayne Brown, Cody Justice, Zach Asbury, J.D. Mullins and Zach Shull.
Freshmen running backs Dylan Morris and Zach Frye, however, will be back. The two combined for more than 500 yards and five touchdowns last year. Seth Osborne, who ran for 207 yards last year, will also be back, giving Man three solid running backs. Osborne was also one of Man’s leading tacklers on defense.
Zach Cook, Man’s kicker and backup quarterback, is also back as well as a host of other players for Coach Harvey Arms’ Billies.
2017 Man High School
Aug. 25: Logan, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 1: at Mount View, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 8: at Westside, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 15: OPEN DATE
Sept. 22: River View (Hall of Fame Game), 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 29: Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 6: Keyser (Homecoming), 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 13: at Bluefield, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 20: at Point Pleasant, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 27: at Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 3: Chapmanville (Senior Night), 7:30 p.m.
2016 Man High School
Football Results (5-5):
Aug. 25: at Logan (Coalfield Kickoff Classic), L 13-48
Sept. 2: Mount View (Hall of Fame Game), W 45-44 (3OT)
Sept. 9: Westside, W 27-14
Sept. 16: at River View, W 7-0 (OT)
Sept. 23: Open Date
Sept. 30: at Lincoln County, W 25-10
Oct. 7: at Chapmanville, L 21-40
Oct. 14: Bluefield, L 21-24
Oct. 21: Point Pleasant, L 0-41
Oct. 28: Tug Valley, L 6-12
Nov. 4: at Van, W 46-7
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).