MAN — The road to Wheeling is never an easy one.
However, going into Week 4 of the season the Man High School football team is putting itself into position to hopefully get there.
With wins over Triple-A Logan and Class AA teams Mount View and Westside, Class A Man (3-0) is expected to grab the No. 1 spot in the WVSSAC’s Computer Ratings, which are due to be released on Tuesday afternoon.
The Hillbillies, which have played a lot of Double-A teams over the years and have been able to grab a lot of points in the SSAC’s playoff system, will get another shot at a Class AA team as Man is scheduled to host 2A River View (0-2) on Friday night at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
It will also be Man’s annual Hall of Fame Game.
The Billies will go into the game as the heavy favorites against the young River View Raiders’ team.
River View also has a short work week in preparations for Man as the Raiders had to go to Grundy (Va.) on Monday night to play a makeup game. The Raiders and Golden Wave were scheduled to meet in Week 2 but severe weather and lightning suspended the game with Grundy leading 14-0 in the first quarter, forcing it to be rescheduled.
River View opened the season with a 50-0 loss at Mount View, a team Man easily handled by a 48-6 score earlier in the season.
Last Friday night, the Raiders were blown out 48-6 at Herbert Hoover.
Man is coming off last week’s 27-24 win at Westside and feel good about its chances this week against the struggling Raiders.
A win there and the Hillbillies will be 4-0.
Man doesn’t want to look ahead but as of now the chances seem good the Billies would be able to finish the season in the top 8 and host a first-round playoff game.
The Billies dropped their final three games last season and fell 16-12 to Tug Valley in the first round of the Class A playoffs to close out 6-5.
Man has two showdown games ahead — Oct. 9 at home against 2A county rival Chapmanville and Oct. 30 at Tug Valley. Both the Tigers and Panthers are 3-0 going into this week’s action.
“After three games to be 3-0 that’s where we want to be,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “We still want to keep getting better. We want to correct those things that we didn’t do well last week and just keep getting better. Hopefully we can go through the season strong and get into the playoffs and have a strong run.”
But first things first.
Man wants to take care of River View this week.
Arms said his team is not overlooking the Raiders. River View beat Man last year 38-35 and lead the all-time series 4-1, so Man feels like it has a score to settle with the Raiders this year.
“They are young but we can’t overlook them,” Arms said. “They are a big, physical team. They lost some players but they are developing some younger players to fill in to those spots. We can’t take anybody lightly for sure.”
Arms said River View has also been hurt by players transferring away.
“They’ve had a tough situation. Some of their best players that should have been returning from last year moved and have gone to other places,” he said. “Their most talented player, a receiver, went to Richlands, Virginia. Then their quarterback that they had last year moved and went to Bluefield I think. One of their linemen they lost, too, due to their parents moving. Plus, so far, Tyree Baker, one of their top athletes, has been hurt and hasn’t played so far.”
Man led Westside 27-12 last week and had to hold off a late furious rally by the Renegades. Man only secured the win with Westside’s last second hail mary pass that was batted down near the goal line.
Hillbillies’ senior quarterback John Thomas Keffer was 16-for-24 passing for 199 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win. Running back Jace Duba was the workhorse for Man as he ran with the ball 25 times for 88 yards.
Matt Sanders had six catches for 65 yards and a TD. Ross Osborne had seven grabs for 61 yards and a score.
The Billies must be able to shore up some of its issues on defense this week, particularly against the pass.
Last week, Westside QB Larry Cook Jr. was 17-for-27 passing for 247 yards and three TDs.
Tanner Bailey led Man’s defense with seven tackles and one interception last week. Tyler Blair also had seven tackles on the night. Richie Nelson and Nick Collins also led the defense with eight tackles apiece.
“I thought for the most part we played pretty well last week,” Arms said. “We had a few letdowns on defense that we hadn’t had in the first two games. We gave up two scores by just missing tackles. That was a problem for us just before halftime and in the second half. Two of those were short passes but long runs because we missed tackles. We also had a special teams mistake.”
Man had a great week last week in its kicking game.
Osborne had several long kickoff returns for the Billies and punter Jake Adkins booted the ball three times — all kicks inside the 20-yard line — for an average of 44.7 yards per punt. One of his kicks went for 56 yards.
Keffer, also Man’s place-kicker, was a perfect 3-for-3 in PAT’s.
“Jake Adkins had three outstanding punts,” Arms said. “He’s punted well all year for us in all three games.”
On the season, Keffer is 33-for-53 passing for 517 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Dustin McCoy is Man’s leading rusher with 30 carries for 212 yards and one score. Duba has 51 attempts for 161 yards and one TD.
Osborne has 18 catches for 286 yards and three TDs. Sanders has nine grabs for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
After three weeks, Bailey is Man’s leading tackler with 24 stops, a fumble recovery and one interception. Nelson has 19 tackles and a pick, while Blair has 18 stops and Duba 17 tackles and a sack.
Arms reports no major injuries heading into Friday’s game.
“We’re OK. We’re in good shape,” he said. “There’s nobody that will be out at this point I don’t think.”
Man moved up one stop to seventh in this week’s Class A WV MetroNews Power Index. Tug Valley is sixth. The Billies are No. 6 in the state in this week’s media poll while the Panthers are seventh.
Football Friday night
WHAT: River View (0-2) at Man (3-0)
WHEN: Friday night, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: George A. Queen Memorial Field, Man, W.Va.
SURFACE: Field Turf
LAST WEEK: Man won 27-24 at Westside … River View lost 48-6 at Herbert Hoover, played at Grundy (Va.) on Monday in makeup game.
INTERNET STREAM: www.manhillbillies.tv.
Man vs. River View Series
All-Time Series (River View leads 4-1)
2014: River View 38, Man 35
2013: Man 46, River View 8
2012: River View 22, Man 13
2011: River View 26, Man 24
2010: River View 33, Man 21
2015 Man High School
Football Schedule (3-0):
Aug. 28: Logan, W 18-13
Sept. 4: at Mount View, W 48-6
Sept. 11: at Westside, W 27-24
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).