MAN — Man High School’s football team knows it will have a tough season opening test when the Hillbillies travel up Route 10 to face Logan on Thursday night in the Kickoff Classic.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Logan Stadium.
There’s extra excitement for the game, which has been pushed up a day to Thursday night instead of the usual Friday night lights.
Only two other games involving West Virginia teams will be played on Thursday.
Man is coming off an 8-3 season a year ago when the Billies were beaten 38-28 by Tug Valley in the first-round of the Class A playoffs.
The Billies move up to Class AA ball this fall after the WVSSAC’s latest round of realignment. Logan moves down from 3A to 2A.
Man coach Harvey Arms said Logan has an array of skilled position players.
Freshman David Early is expected to start for Logan at quarterback. He passed and rushed for a combined 2,000 yards last season for Logan Middle School.
The Wildcats, 4-6 last year, also have a top wide receiver in senior Jamal Minter, who reeled in 27 passes for 354 yards last season.
“I know that they have a lot of new players,” Arms said. “They have some talented young players from what we hear and little bit that we’ve seen of them. They seem like they want to spread the field and play a wide open game. We’ll have to play good defense and not let up that big play because it seems like they have some guys that have the athletic talent to make the big plays.”
Man also has a new quarterback as four-year starter John Thomas Keffer has graduated.
“We have been working with five guys trying to determine who is going to be the best,” Arms said. “We need someone to be a leader on the field. So far, we haven’t made a final decision yet but we feel like we’re getting a little bit closer.”
Senior newcomer Cameron Simpson could get the starting nod at QB for Man but the Billies also have four others who can get the job done.
“We have Cameron Simpson, a senior, but he hasn’t played since middle school,” Arms said. “We have a junior, Nick Albright, that also hasn’t played since middle school. We also have Zach Cook, a sophomore, who was our JV quarterback last year. There’s also Caleb Milton, a freshman, who played with the middle school team last year. Then we have Josh Vanover, who was a backup quarterback for us two years ago. We’ve got a lot of different guys and we’re working with them. We’ll make a decision on who will start on Thursday.”
The keys for Man against Logan are simple.
Control the line, get the running game going, not to turn the ball over and limit the penalties.
In the backfield, Man has experience with Dustin McCoy, Seth Chapman and Jake Frye.
McCoy, a senior, ran 92 times for 548 yards and scored two touchdowns. Frye, also a senior, rushed for 239 yards on 46 carries and scored four TDs. Chapman is also a senior.
Last year’s top rusher, Jace Duba, has graduated. He ran for 699 yards a year ago on 139 rushes and scored seven touchdowns.
At wide receiver, the Billies have big-play potential with senior Matt Sanders. Last year, Sanders caught 29 passes for 471 yards and scored eight touchdowns. Man’s top receiver last year, all-state wideout Ross Osborne, has graduated. He reeled in 67 passes for 971 yards and 15 TDs last year.
Man has some experience on the offensive line as seniors Jacob Asbury, Austin Bragg and Kane Brown and junior D.J. Browning, all return.
“Football is a game where the keys are just about the same every game,” Arms said. “One, you can’t turn the ball over. Another thing is that you can’t have a lot of penalties. If you have penalties that stop drives or you have penalties that continues drives for them those are killers. Those are two things that we have to stay away from. We also know that sometimes those are things that happen to inexperienced teams, especially early in the season. That’s what we are stressing this week. We want to stay away from the turnovers and the penalties. Another thing is that you never want to give up the big play. We have to play assignment football on defense.”
Arms likes high school football played on the traditional Friday nights. Playing on a Thursday will be a bit different.
“We’ll have one practice short but I guess all in all it’s probably just about the same as always,” Arms said.
The Billies saw some good signs in the preseason.
Man scrimmaged at Class AAA George Washington two weeks ago and last Saturday went to Bradshaw to take on Craig County (Va.) in the River View Gridorama.
“We felt like we did some things pretty well but like all scrimmages and early season play we saw that there were some things that we needed to work on,” Arms said. “We thought that we got two pretty good evaluations out of it. GW is a strong team and they showed us a lot of our weaknesses. Last week against Craig County, Virginia we thought that we played a little bit better. We thought that we made some improvements. We’re working all season long to try to get better each week.”
Arms said his team came out of both scrimmages injury-free.
“That’s one thing that has been really great for us. We had no injuries coming out of the two scrimmages,” Arms said.
Man has won the last two meetings with the Cats, taking an 18-13 victory last year at home and winning a 32-26 OT thriller a couple of seasons ago at Logan.
— Logan High School football coach Gary Mullins will comment on the Logan-Man game in Wednesday’s Logan Banner sports.
Football Thursday night
WHAT: Man (0-0) at Logan (0-0).
WHEN: Thursday night, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Logan Stadium, Logan, W.Va.
SURFACE: Field Turf
LAST YEAR’S MEETING: Man won 18-13
LAST YEAR: Logan was 4-6, Man 8-3
ALL-TIME SERIES: Logan leads 49-27-1
SINCE 2000: Logan leads 11-5
RADIO/INTERNET: WVOW 101.9 FM, Logan, www.loganwildcats.tv, www.manhillbillies.tv.
Logan vs. Man Football Series
Since 2000 (Logan leads 11-5):
2015: Man 18, Logan 13
2014: Man 32, Logan 26 (OT)
2013: Logan 40, Man 20
2012: Logan 33, Man 0
2011: Logan 30, Man 7
2010: Logan 55, Man 18
2009: Man 34, Logan 7
2008: Logan 14, Man 12
2007: Logan 33, Man 14
2006: Man 18, Logan 13
2005: Logan 12, Man 10
2004: Man 22, Logan 18
2003: Logan 18, Man 0
2002: Logan 27, Man 6
2001: Logan 19, Man 0
2000: Logan 49, Man 9
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).