MAN — It still may be early in the 2015 season but the Man High School football has a chance at something pretty cool.
If the Hillbillies are able to beat Westside on the road this Friday night Man would stay unbeaten at 3-0 and would most likely be ranked No. 1 in the state in Class A when the WVSSAC’s first Computer Ratings are released the following week.
Man (2-0) already has wins over Class AAA Logan (18-13) and 2A Mount View (48-6 last week), something no other Single-A team in the state can match.
The Billies have been racking up the points in the SSAC ratings and are looking to get another win over a Double-A school this week at Westside (1-1).
The Renegades claimed the Golden Shovel last week after knocking off in-county rival Wyoming East, 50-8, and will be a formidable foe for Man.
“It’s been a series that we’ve been in for a long time,” Man coach Harvey Arms said about Westside. “We’ve played them ever since they have been open and we played Oceana before that. It’s a long series and it’s always a tough, good football team. We expect it to be no different on Friday night.”
Westside and its high-powered offense, led by quarterback Larry Cook Jr., had its way last week against East and the Billies should have their hands full.
Man and Westside appear to be evenly matched and it should be a good game. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday night at the Westside High School football field at Clear Fork.
The two teams have played a spirited and competive series with Man leading 6-5 all time over the Renegades.
Westside, a 28-22 winner at Man in last year’s game, have taken three out of the last four matchups. Five of the 11 games in the all-time series have been decided by one score or less.
The Renegades, which dropped a 33-6 game at home to Liberty Raleigh in the season opener, took it to Wyoming East last week.
Westside no longer has record-breaking QB Justin Cogar, who graduated and took his game to the collegiate level.
Going into the preseason, the Renegades had a new look as the team spent much of their off-season installing its new flexbone offense.
The offense uses three running backs and focuses on a run-heavy attack. It only produced a single touchdown in the opening season loss to Liberty, so head coach Larry Cook Sr., the QB’s dad, decided to ditch the bone and go back to Westside’s patented five-wide spread offense.
It was very successful last season with Cogar, who led the Renegades to the Class AA state semifinals.
“We’ve been trying to run the ball since spring practice and through the preseason,” Coach Cook told the Beckley Register Herald. “Monday and Tuesday we were all just dredging through practice and nobody was having any fun, so I texted my coaches Tuesday night and said, ‘You know what, guys? We’re putting the five-wide back in Wednesday.’ We went to work Wednesday and Thursday and put this offense back in, and the kids seemed to enjoy it.”
Larry Cook Jr. reveled in the passing attack last week as he passed for 282 yards and five touchdowns on the rival Warriors.
“They have a lot of players back from last year,” Arms said. “Cogar was their top player but their quarterback Cook had a year’s worth of experience back when Cogar was hurt. He’s experienced also. They have been playing some good football. They had a big game and won last week against their county rival. We expect them to be really tough.”
Westside unleashed its aerial assault on East last week as Cook hit Frank Sammons for a 19-yard TD pass in the opening drive.
The Warriors got to within 12-6 but four lost fumbles and a long touchdown run by Alec Lusk which was called back due to a holding penalty eventually took its toll.
Westside tacked on three more Cook TD passes in the third quarter — two to Jacob Ellis on strikes of 2 and 10 yards and another covering 24 yards to Josh Morgan.
Cook then fired a 65-yard TD pass to Anderson in the third and added a safety. Morgan’s 64-yard TD run and Jacob Stafford’s 46-yard TD jaunt in the fourth quarter finished off the scoring.
Morgan ran with the ball four times for 77 yards and had three catches for 54 yards.
“We have to be ready to defend everything because they run the spread offense,” Arms said. “They run the ball and throw it too. We have to be ready for it.”
Man was led last week by senior QB John Thomas Keffer, who accounted for five of Man’s touchdowns. He completed 10-for-18 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns on tosses of 55, 5 and 21 and ran for two more scores on runs of 1 and 5.
Led by Keffer, the Hillbillies racked up 462 yards of total offense. Keffer has completed 17-of-29 passes on the season for 318 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Ross Osborne, a senior Man wide receiver, reeled in seven passes for 178 yards and had TD grabs of 55 and 5 yards last week. He has 11 catches for 205 yards on the season.
Running back Dustin McCoy ran for 149 yards and a score last week. For the year, he has 19 attempts for 186 yards.
Man’s defense also stepped up to the challenge last week and held Mount View to only 125 yards of total offense.
Tanner Bailey led Man’s defense with seven tackles. Richie Nelson had six and Jace Duba five, including a QB sack. Osborne had an interception and Tyler Vance had a QB sack as well.
Bailey is Man’s leading tackler after two weeks with 17 stops.
Arms said Man is playing well heading into Week 3.
“At this point we are playing well,” he said. “We still have a lot of things that we need to work on and get better at. But at this point we’re pretty pleased. We have played really well in all three phases of the game. Our defense has been exceptional. And our offense and special teams have played really well too. We’re satisfied with where we are but we still want to get better.”
Arms reports no major injuries after two games.
“We’re good,” he said. “I think we’ll be at full speed. We’re looking forward to another big game on Friday night.”
Man is ranked No. 8 in the state in this week’s WV Metro News Power Index. Westside is No. 11 in Class AA.
Football Friday Night
WHAT: Class A No. 8 Man (2-0) at Class AA No. 11 Westside (1-1)
WHEN: Friday night, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Westside High School football field, Cleak Fork, W.Va.
SURFACE: Natural grass
LAST WEEK: Man won 48-6 at Mount View … Westside beat county rival Wyoming East, 50-8, to win the Golden Shovel.
INTERNET STREAM: www.manhillbillies.tv.
Man vs. Westside Series
Last 11 years (Man leads 6-5)
2014: Westside 28, Man 22
2013: Man 22, Westside 14
2012: Westside 44, Man 20
2011: Westside 33, Man 6
2010: Man 28, Westside 8
2009: Man 20, Westside 14
2008: Man 28, Westside 20
2007: Westside 10, Man 6
2006: Man 28, Westside 0
2005: Man 18, Westside 6
2004: Westside 22, Man 8
2015 Man High School
Football Schedule (2-0):
Aug. 28: Logan, W 18-13
Sept. 4: at Mount View, W 48-6
Sept. 11: at Westside, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 18: River View, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 25: at Fayetteville, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 2: Bye week
Oct. 9: Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 16: at Sherman, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 23: Pocahontas County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 30: at Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 6: Van, 7:30 p.m.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1730, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).