MAN, W.Va. — Point Pleasant could be the toughest team the Man High School football team has played in many years.
Undefeated Point Pleasant, a former Class AAA powerhouse which dropped back into the Double-A ranks this season, comes to Man to take on the Hillbillies on Friday night.
Point, 7-0 and ranked No. 3 in the state last week, takes on Man (4-3) in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
The Billies lost a 24-21 homecoming heartbreaker to Bluefield last week — a game which could have more or less knocked Man out of 2A playoff contention.
Point Pleasant was idle last week.
The Big Blacks, a contender for the Wheeling Super Six, opened the season with a 44-6 win over Lincoln County, then won 19-17 over Ripley and 61-12 over Gallia Academy, Ohio.
Since, the Big Blacks have reeled off wins over Logan (41-12), Mount View (65-22), Parkersburg South (39-12) and Bluefield (45-24) a couple of weeks ago.
After taking on Point, Man closes out the season with a pair of Class A teams in Tug Valley and Van.
Even with a couple of wins there and a possible 6-4 record, that might not be enough points for Man to make it to the playoffs.
The Billies were ranked No. 17 in the state last week. The top 16 teams in each class advance to the state playoffs beginning on Nov. 11.
It will be a tough task to say the least on Friday night for the Hillbillies.
“Last year, they were one of the best three or four teams in Triple-A,” Arms said of Point Pleasant. “Now, they just dropped down to Double-A. They still have a lot of talent and they’re a good football team. They will probably be the toughest team that we’ve played in a long time. But we enjoy the competition and we’re looking forward to playing and see what we can do against them.”
Arms said the Big Blacks have few weaknesses.
“It’s going to be real tough,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “Without a doubt they are one of the best teams in the state maybe in any class, especially in Double-A. They’ve got size, speed and talent and they have a lot of players. They’ve had a good team for years. There’s no slowing down for them it looks like. They keep getting better. It’s going to be tough for us.”
Then again, a huge upset win over Point Pleasant this week by Man and the Billies will get a ton of ratings points and will shoot back up in the rankings.
“That would be nice for sure,” Arms said.
With Point’s win over Bluefield a couple of weeks ago, the Big Blacks extended its state-best regular season winning streak to 40 games.
Point Pleasant is led by senior running back Grant Safford, who broke free for a 48-yard touchdown run against Bluefield and also scored on a 4-yard run to make it 17-3.
Sophomore quarterback Cason Payne scored on a 7-yard run to later make it a 24-10 ballgame.
“They have a real nice quarterback,” Arms said. “They have good receivers and running backs. They are big up front and they have most of what you look for if you want to go out and build a football team.”
Tied at 24, Payne found junior Keshawn Stover for a 47-yard TD pass to put the Big Blacks up for good.
Payne found paydirt on a 3-yard quarterback-keeper to make it 38-24. Payne then connected with Stover for a 31-yard touchdown pass to close out the scoring.
For the game, Point Pleasant outgained the Beavers 491-356 in total yards, including 337-202 on the ground.
Safford led the Big Blacks with 201 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, to go with one reception for eight yards. Payne — who rushed 17 times for 87 yards and two TDs — completed 8 of 15 passes for 154 yards and two more scores.
Stover caught three passes for 82 yards and two scores, Jason Wamsley added two receptions for 39 yards, while Dakota Booth hauled in two passes for 25 yards.
The Big Blacks also have a good field goal kicker in Jason Schultz, who booted a 32-yard kick against the Beavers to put Point ahead 3-0.
Friday’s game is the first time since 2000 Man has met Point Pleasant. The Big Blacks hold a 3-1 all-time lead. Man’s lone win over Point was a 13-7 victory in 1963.
The Billies are coming off last week’s tough loss to Bluefield. Man outplayed the Beavers and were in position to win the game but Bluefield’s Latrell “Mookie” Collier returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown with just 41 seconds left in the game for the winning score.
“It was a good football game,” Arms said. “We went out and we were able to do what we thought we could do. We thought we could run the ball right at them. We had a lead for most of the ballgame but we lost it on that last punt return. We got off a good punt, we just didn’t tackle.”
Man was led in rushing by freshman Dylan Morris who had 103 yards rushing on 22 carries and one TD.
QB Cameron Simpson had 48 yards on seven attempts and two touchdowns while Charles Rosser had 48 yards on 10 carries.
Simpson was 4 of 9 passing for 54 yards.
Man was led on defense by Matt Sanders with 11 tackles, followed by Tyler Blair and Brock Muncy with eight each. Seth Chapman had six tackles.
Arms said his team was a big banged up last week.
“We got banged up a little bit,” he said. “I don’t know what our situation will be as of this moment. We’ll just have to wait and see what this week brings for us.”
Football Friday night
WHAT: Point Pleasant (7-0) at Man (4-3)
WHEN: Friday night, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: George A. Queen Memorial Field, Man, W.Va.
SURFACE: Field Turf
LAST WEEK: Man lost 24-21 to Bluefield, Point Pleasant was idle.
LAST YEAR’S MEETING: Did not meet
ALL-TIME SERIES: Point Pleasant leads 3-1
All-Time Football Series
(Point Pleasant leads 3-1):
2000: Point Pleasant 41, Man 14
1999: Point Pleasant 43, Man 19
1963: Man 13, Point Pleasant 7
1962: Point Pleasant 21, Man 12
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).