MAN — The Man High School football team and head coach Harvey Arms don’t seem fazed by its beefed up 2016 schedule with the Billies’ return to Double-A.
Gone are Class A teams Fayetteville, Sherman and Pocahontas County.
In are state powerhouses Point Pleasant and Bluefield and also Lincoln County, a Class AAA school which is dropping down to 2A.
While Lincoln County has struggled for years in football since the school was formed after consolidation, Point Pleasant has been a Class AAA and 2A state powerhouse, sporting a 54-7 record the last five years.
The Big Blacks, coached by David Darst, were 12-1 this past fall in Point Pleasant’s last year as a Triple-A school. Point won its first 12 games, including a 10-0 regular season and playoff wins over Musselman (54-14) and Huntington (49-0) before falling to Wheeling Park (35-14) in the Class AAA state semifinals.
Point Pleasant was 10-1 in 2014, 11-1 in 2013 and 8-3 in 2012.
In the Big Blacks’ last season as a Double-A school in 2011, Point beat Chapmanville Regional 33-13 in the Class AA state semifinals and advanced to the Wheeling Super Six before falling to Wayne 34-7 in the 2A state championship game and closing out 13-1.
Bluefield went 9-2 last year, beating Weir 32-13 in the first round of the Class AA playoffs before falling 35-22 to Mingo Central in the state quarterfinals.
Man and Bluefield last played each other in the early 2000s.
The Beavers last won a state championship in 2009, downing Wayne 27-7 in the state title game and completing an unbeaten season. Man reached the Wheeling Super Six that same season, losing 27-7 to Weirton Madonna in the Class A state championship game.
Bluefield also won 2A state titles in 2007, 2004, 1997, 1984, 1975, 1967, 1965, 1962 and 1959 and have been state runner-up numerous times.
“It’s a tough schedule,” Coach Arms said. “But the schedule is not a big difference. We are playing eight of the same teams we played last year, but when you add Bluefield and Point Pleasant that makes the whole thing look tougher which it is, especially when you have to play them back-to-back but you know you’ve got to have a schedule and you’ve got to play people that will play you and of course we want to play tough competition and we fell like that’s how you get better playing the big boys. If you want to be the man you’ve got to beat the man as Ric Flair used to say.”
Going to Class AA will be tougher for the Billies.
However, in Man’s Single-A days, the Billies kept many of their rivalries with Double-A schools like Westside and Chapmanville going. Logan was also a Triple-A school since 2008 before dropping down.
“I don’t think that really matters,” Arms said when asked about going back up to Double-A. “We had a lot of Double-A and Triple-A teams last year and over the years. We’ve got Bluefield and Point Pleasant and Point was one of the best teams in 3A last year and Bluefield is always one of the top Double-A teams, so we’ve got to go out and play with the schedule. We have a situation where we’ve got an away game then we got two at home then three on road and back home for three in a row and then we are away again so it takes on a little different shape. We are looking forward to playing though. It’s a good schedule and if we can win on it I think we will be OK.”
Arms said opening up on a Thursday night against Logan on Aug. 25 will be different. Arms likes to keep the Friday night lights, however.
“That’s what (Logan coach) Gary (Mullins) wanted to do so I said, ‘Well, it’s your home game and if that’s what you want to do we will try it. We are going to reserve the right to play Friday night here. We feel like Friday are best for us,” Arms said.
Man is slated to travel to George Washington on Saturday at 10 a.m. as the Hillbillies are slated to face the Class AAA Patriots.
The two teams have met in the preseason opener for many years.
Man’s second and last preseason game is Aug. 20 in the River View Gridorama against the Grundy (Va.) Golden Wave.
“We go to George Washington on Saturday and then on our second scrimmage we play in a gridorama at River View against Grundy, Virginia,” Arms said. ” So hopefully after those two scrimmages we will find out how we compete and things we need to do diffently and what we are doing well. We will also be able to get a good look at the whole team.”
Man has several newcomers on the team — incoming freshmen from last year’s Man Middle School squad.
“Well they look good now but we will make some evaluations after contact starts next week,” Arms said. “They look good in shorts but sometimes contact changes things. But I think we got some good freshmen here. Of course, they came off a good middle school team that won a lot of games. They won conference championships so you feel like they are good people and they work very hard. They really work hard out here so we hope to start with good practices and get better every day.”
2016 Man High School
Aug. 25: at Logan, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 2: Mount View, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9: Westside, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16: at River View, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: Open Date
Sept. 30: at Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7: at Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14: Bluefield, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21: Point Pleasant, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 28: Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 4: at Van, 7:30 p.m.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).