MAN — The Man High School football team didn’t expect to play Tug Valley again in the Class A playoffs.
But that’s exactly who the Hillbillies drew as No. 5-ranked Man (8-2) is scheduled to play host to No. 12 Tug Valley (7-3) on Friday night in the Class A playoff opener at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
For Man, it’s the third straight trip to the playoffs in as many years.
The Hillbillies and the Panthers met in last year’s Single-A playoffs with Tug Valley coming out on top 16-12 in a game played at neutral Mingo Central.
Man and Tug Valley played each other just two weeks ago at Naugatuck as the Hillbillies won a 14-12 overtime thriller over the Panthers.
Tug Valley dominated the game statistically but the Man defense was able to tighten in the red zone, thwarting several scoring opportunities by the Panther offense.
Man scored the game-winning touchdown with a 19-yard pass in OT from quarterback John Thomas Keffer to Ross Osborne. Keffer then ran in the two-point conversion to make it 14-6.
Tug Valley then scored a touchdown on its overtime possession but was stopped short on the potential game-tying two-point conversion.
The winner of the Man-Tug Valley game gets a second-round playoff game against the winner of Friday night’s game between No. 4 Moorefield (9-1) and No. 13 Meadow Bridge (7-3).
If Man beats Tug that could mean a very long trip by the Billies to No. 4 Moorefield next week in the state quarterfinals if the Yellowjackets are able to win its playoff game.
The Hillbillies were not expected to match up with Tug Valley going into Friday night’s action, however, Man received some unexpected bonus points from Westside, which trounced a short-handed Mingo Central team, 45-6.
That put Man up to fifth in the final rankings which were released on Sunday afternoon by the SSAC.
The Billies are happy to be back in the playoffs and happy to host a first-round game. It’s been two years since Man has done that and this is the first time the Billies will be able to host a home playoff game on their new Field Turf.
“This group of seniors that we’ve got, most of them started as freshmen and we had a pretty tough season then,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “From that point on, they have really improved a lot and they have got better each year. And now, we’ve made it to the playoffs three years in a row.”
Man hopes to advance in the playoffs for the first time since 2009 when the Hillbillies beat Parkersburg Catholic, Fayetteville and Richwood in the post-season and made it all the way to the Wheeling Super Six.
Two years ago, Man fell 21-16 to Bishop Donahue at home in the opening round.
Arms said he’s happy to be back at home in the playoffs.
“We hope that it’s an edge for us,” he said. “It’s always a lot more fun to play at home in front of your home crowd and playing in an atmosphere that you are used to playing in. We hope that it works somewhat to our advantage.”
A huge crowd is expected for the game.
Since it’s only a 45-minute trip, there will sure be a lot of Tug Valley fans there, too.
— Look for more on the game this week in the Logan Banner sports section.
Man in the playoffs
in the Harvey Arms era (5-6):
2014: Tug Valley 16, Man 12 (at Mingo Central, first round)
2013: Bishop Donahue 21, Man 16 (at Man, first round)
2009: Weirton Madonna 27, Man 7 (at Wheeling, Class A state finals)
2009: Man 27, Richwoood 20 (at Man, state semifinals)
2009: Man 37, Fayetteville 26 (at Man, state quarterfinals)
2009: Man 25, Parkersburg Catholic 20 (at Man, first round)
2008: Williamstown 21, Man 16 (at Williamstown, state quarterfinals)
2008: Man 27, Mount Hope 20 (at Mount Hope, first round)
2005: Williamstown 26, Man 12 (at Williamstown, state quarterfinals)
2005: Man 14, Hamlin 0 (at Hamlin, first round)
2004: Weirton Madonna 47, Man 0 (at Weir, first round)
(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).