MAN – Being one year older and having one more year of experience should help many of the Man High School football players this season.
And in the end, it should help the whole team.
Man began practices for the upcoming season in early August with a positive outlook.
The Hillbillies have endured three straight losing seasons but with a more experienced team hope to have a winning grid campaign this fall.
Having more experience is one of the main positives for the Billies, which open the season Aug. 30 at home against county rival Logan.
“One of our strengths this year should be our experience,” Arms said last week. “Last year, we had a really young team and there were a lot of kids that hadn’t played a lot. This year, we have a whole group of kids that have played all of last season. At this point, they are catching on a lot faster than last year and they are grabbing onto the new things better. Experience should be our biggest advantage this year. It should pay off. That’s what you practice for and that’s what you work for. We put a big emphasis on it this year. There’s really no substitute for maturity.”
Man has close to 50 players out for the team.
That’s not bad for a Class A team.
“We have 48 out for the team,” Arms said. “We feel like things are going pretty good. The kids are working hard and they seem to be having fun at it. We’re making some progress. At this point it’s slow but we are making some progress. The attitude has been good. The kids have been working hard.”
Arms begins his 12th season at the Man helm this fall.
The Billies are scheduled to have its first preseason test on Saturday, Aug. 17 at George Washington. The scrimmage is set to begin at 10 a.m. at the George Washington High School football field on the school’s South Hills campus in Charleston.
The Billies are then slated to take part in the preseason Midland Trail Gridorama on Aug. 24.
Man and Class AAA George Washington have scrimmaged each other for years. It’s always been a good measuring stick for the Billies.
“We like scrimmaging against GW. They have one of the best Triple-A teams in the state,” Arms said. “It really gives us a good look at our team and we see how we can compete. We like to see how our kids stack up against them and how well we can hit. We feel like every year we go over there our team has held up pretty well. Of course, we know going in that they have the advantage in numbers and they usually have some good skilled people. They are usually one of the top teams in the state but it’s still good for us to have that kind of exposure against a good team like that.”
Man is coming off back-to-back 2-8 seasons. The Billies were 4-6 in 2010 after winning 12 games and reaching the Wheeling Super Six in 2009.
The Hillbillies are scheduled to play two new opponents this season – Van and Sherman – a pair of Class A schools in Boone County. The Bulldogs and Tide replace Class AA teams Mingo Central and Roane County.
Man will take on Sherman on Oct. 18 at Seth in Week 8 of the season. The Billies will close out the campaign on Nov. 8 at home against Van.
After opening the season at home against Logan, Man goes to Class AA Mount View on Sept. 6 and then to 2A Westside on Sept. 13 before hosting 2A River View on Sept. 20.
Man’s open date is Sept. 27 and that is followed by a road game at Class A Fayetteville on Oct. 4. Then on Oct. 11, Man hosts 2A county rival Chapmanville on Oct. 11 before playing at Sherman the following week.
The Billies then close out on Oct. 25 at home against Pocahontas County before playing at Single-A Tug Valley on Nov. 1 and then at home against the Van Bulldogs on Nov. 8.
Man’s wins last year were over Mount View (20-12) and Fayetteville (48-13). Man lost a close one in Week 9 with a 7-6 setback at Pocahontas County. Man was also competitive in defeats to River View (22-13) and Tug Valley (30-24).
Man’s two new foes struggled last season.
Sherman was only 1-9 in 2012, while Van was just 2-7.
The Tide’s lone win was a 32-0 victory over Hannan. Sherman lost to Tug Valley (46-26), Wyoming East (38-8), Liberty Raleigh (40-0), Independence (47-7), St. John Central, Ohio (14-6), Sissonville (72-12), Meadow Bridge (40-7) and Van (28-7).
In addition to the victory over Sherman last season, Van also won 44-18 over Paden City. The Bulldogs fell in 2012 to Meadow Bridge (38-6), Valley Fayette (20-0), Midland Trail (37-14), Mount View (26-6), Clay-Battelle (49-6), Tug Valley (40-20) and Greenbrier West (46-28).
Arms said he’s glad to have Sherman and Van on the schedule because it will cut down on travel time and expenses.
“It cuts down on the travel time and it’s a lot easier to get to Sherman and Van than to go to Roane County,” Arms said. “Our schedule this season is top-heavy because we start out with a lot of the big schools.”
Man’s Hall of Fame Game is set for Week 4 against River View on Sept. 20. Man’s annual Homecoming Game is slated to be played on Oct. 11 against county rival Chapmanville. Senior Night is the regular season finale on Nov. 8 vs. Van.
The Billies are led by rising sophomore quarterback John Thomas Keffer. He started all of Man’s games last fall as a freshman and broke into the role real well. The Billies are looking for another good season from Keffer this fall and from many of the returning players.
Running backs Braden Griffin, Neil Mullins and Noah Maynard are back as well as several other skilled position players and linemen.
“We’ve got so many of our kids back, so we’ll just have to wait and see,” Arms said. “We’ve got a good nucleus to work with.”
Coach Harvey Arms’
Year-by-Year Record at Man
2009: 12-2 (Lost 27-7 to Weirton Madonna in Class A state championship game)
2008: 8-4 (Lost 21-16 to Williamstown in Class A state quarterfinals)
2005: 8-4 (Lost 26-12 to Williamstown in Class A state quarterfinals)
2004: 6-5 (Lost 47-0 to Weirton Madonna in Class A playoffs)
TOTAL: 57-62 (11 years)