MAN — The Man High School football team heads to the Class A state playoffs on a roll.
The Hillbillies are 9-1 and riding a nine-game winning streak going into Saturday’s home playoff game against Bishop Donahue (7-3).
It’s the first playoff season for Man since 2009 when the Billies were 12-2 and advanced all the way to the Class A state championship game.
Here’s a game-by-game look at Man’s 2013 season:
MAN — The Man Hillbillies locked up a home playoff berth with a 61-6 blowout over Van on Nov. 8 in the regular season finale at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
Man secured its first trip to the Class A playoffs in four years and erased the bad memories of three straight losing seasons.
Man head coach Harvey Arms, in his 12th year, has now led the Billies to five playoff appearances. The last one was in 2009 when Man played in the Class A state championship game at Wheeling Island Stadium and lost 27-7 to Weirton Madonna.
Arms said his team played well against Van and have come a long way.
“It was a good game for us,” he said. “The young kids got to play a lot. The varsity didn’t play much, but the young kids all played well and got all the stats. We start our second season now and we have to get ready to play. A 9-1 record feels a heck of a lot better than 2-8.”
Van, which dressed only 14 players for the game, was simply outmanned and outclassed. The Bulldogs closed out the season with four straight losses and a 3-7 record.
Man outgained Van 464-128 in yards of total offense. As a team, Man rushed for 339 yards.
Nine different Billies carried the football, led by reserve Patrick Wiley who had an even 100 yards on five carries and one score. Jacob Frye had nine attempts for 57 yards, while Dustin McCoy had eight totes for 52 yards and a TD.
Quarterback John Thomas Keffer was 4-for-5 passing for 105 yards and one score. Cayce Mullins had two catches for 60 yards. Tracy Jones has two grabs for 45 yards and a TD.
On defense, the Billies were led by Tanner Bailey who had five tackles and one QB sack.
Man led 45-0 at the half.
Tug Valley 14
NAUGATUCK — The Man High School football team got a measure of revenge on Tug Valley on Nov. 1 and stayed in the hunt for homefield advantage for the Class A state playoffs.
The Hillbillies went to Tug Valley’s Bob Brewer Stadium in Naugatuck and toppled the Panthers, 24-14, improving to 8-1 on the season.
It was the eighth straight win for No. 6-ranked Man since losing to Logan in the season opener.
The Billies turned the tables on Tug Valley (3-6), which defeated Man 30-24 on the road last season.
Man led Tug Valley 12-8 at the half and 24-8 after three before Tug Valley was able to score a TD in the fourth quarter to set the final margin.
The Hillbillies made it 6-0 at the 8:51 mark of the first quarter on a 55-yard pass play from QB John Thomas Keffer to Cayce Mullins.
Then in the second quarter, running back Neil Mullins bulldozed his way into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown run as Man pushed the lead to 12-0 with 9:00 left until halftime.
In the third quarter, Man scored twice — the first on a Neil Mullins 2-yard run at the 5:18 mark and the second on a Braden Griffin 26-yard TD run with 2:23 to go — to increase the margin to 24-8. Both two-point conversion attempts failed.
Man outgained Tug Valley 303-168 in total yardage. The Billies had 36 rushes for 180 yards. The Panthers were held to 28 carries for 27 yards — less than a yard per attempt.
In the air Man was 9-for-16 passing for 123 yards and one interception.
Neil Mullins ran for 95 yards on 14 carries for the Billies. Griffin added 14 rushes for 88 yards.
John Thomas Keffer was 9-for-15 passing for 123 yards and a pick for Man. Cayce Mullins reeled in six passes for 91 yards to lead Man. Tracy Jones had two catches for 34 yards.
Jones led Man with eight total tackles.
Pocahontas County 0
MAN — The Man Hillbillies are halfway there.
After recording a thrilling homecoming win over Class AA county rival Chapmanville a few weeks ago, the Man High School football team saw a golden opportunity.
With four games left in the regular season against Class A opponents, the Billies are looking to run the table and close out 9-1 with homefield advantage for the playoffs.
It’s now two down and two to go as Man blanked Pocahontas County 42-0 on Oct. 25 at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field. The victory improved No. 5-ranked Man to 7-1 on the season with two more games left to play.
For the Billies, it was their seventh straight win. It also broke a three-year skid to Pocahontas County.
This time it was payback time.
Man’s defense was key to the win as the Billies allowed only 85 yards of total offense and just three first downs while forcing six Warrior fumbles resulting in five turnovers.
In the meantime, Man’s offense racked up 337 yards of total offense and scored six touchdowns. The Billies had 21 first downs with 206 yards rushing and 131 more yards in the air.
Man head coach Harvey Arms was pleased with the win.
“Our kids played well all night long,” Arms said. “The defense was great, plus our offense and John Thomas Keffer had another great game along with Neil Mullins. Tanner Bailey, Tracy Jones and Christain McCoy had big games. You could name them all.”
Fullback Neil Mullins led Man with 110 yards rushing on 12 carries. Griffin had 66 yards on 11 attempts and two TDs. Mikle Scott Rowe added another 33 yards on five carries and a touchdown.
Man QB John Thomas Keffer was 8-for-18 passing for 95 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Cayce Mullins had three catches for 44 yards, while Jones had three grabs for 36 yards and a TD. Tyler Grimmett had the 36-yard touchdown catch.
Bailey led the Man defense with eight tackles and a fumble recovery. Noah Maynard had seven tackles, while McCoy had five tackles and three sacks. Gage Harvey finished with five tackles and a fumble recovery.
SETH — Man routed Sherman 36-6 on Oct. 18 at Seth.
The Billies improved to 6-1 on the season, while the Tide dropped to 2-6.
The game was the tale of two halves.
The Billies were very sluggish in the first half of play but turned it up in the second half after a slim 8-6 lead at the intermission.
Man then kicked it into gear, outscoring Sherman 28-0 in the second half to turn it into a rout. The Billies’ defense held the Tide to minus-38 yards of total offense in the second half and Man didn’t have to punt.
Man was led 264-pound running back Neil Mullins, who led the Billies on both sides of the ball. Mullins was an unstoppable force running with the ball as he finished with 101 yards rushing on 16 carries and two touchdowns while leading the Goats on defense with six tackles and two QB sacks.
Mullins helped pick up the slack in the Billies’ backfield. Feature back Braden Griffin sat out with an injured shoulder.
Man coach Harvey Arms said he’s glad his team came alive in the second half.
“We didn’t play well in the first half but our defense played well most of the game,” Arms said. “They gave up a pass there early for their first score but we didn’t give up much yardage. Neil ran the ball well and led our defense. Tracy Jones played well too and got that big punt return there in the third quarter that led to the first of three scores in the third quarter for us. I didn’t think we punted in the second half. Robert Caudill and Jeremiah Beavers also played well and they didn’t want any of Neil there in the second half.”
QB John Thomas Keffer was 13-for-19 passing for 98 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.
Tracy Jones had four catches for 67 yards and two scores. Cayce Mullins had seven catches for 66 yards and one touchdown. He was 1-for-1 passing with the scoring strike to Jones.
MAN — On Oct. 11, the Man High School football scored a thrilling 26-22 homecoming win over Class AA county rival Chapmanville.
Man, the No. 6-ranked Class A team in the state, took a major step toward the playoffs and the road to Wheeling with the nailbiter of a win over county rival Tigers at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
Man improved to 5-1 on the season and snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Tigers (4-3), the No. 11-ranked Class AA team in the state. The two teams are now an even 7-7 since the county series was resumed in 2000.
The outcome of the county clash was in doubt until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Down 26-22, Chapmanville, led by quarterback Alex Berry, was driving the ball down field into Man territory.
It was going to come down to the wire just as many people had predicted given both teams have vastly improved from last season in all facets of the the game.
Chapmanville drove the ball all the way down to the Man 19-yard line but faced a fourth-and-eight after Berry was sacked for a 5-yard loss by Mikle Scott Rowe on third down.
The Tigers had one chance and most people in the stadium thought Chapmanville might go to 6-foot-5 senior clutch wide receiver Brady Cox. He had a 24-yard catch amid triple coverage earlier in the drive to give CRHS a first-and-10 at the 21.
Berry dropped back and threw what seemed like a perfect pass to a streaking Cox down the sideline. Man freshman Tyler Grimmett read the pass and stepped right in front of Cox for the interception at the 10-yard line. Grimmett took the ball to the 35 and with 1:35 left in the game, the Billies had the game in the bag.
Two running plays, a personal foul penalty by Chapmanville and a knee by Man QB John Thomas Keffer was then enough for the Billies to run out the clock and preserve the win.
Man coach Harvey Arms was thrilled with his team’s win and performance.
“What a great high school football game,” Arms said. “The fans got every penny’s worth of what they paid tonight to get in here. Both teams fought and battled and it went up and down. This is what you come and play for. It’s good to win any game and it’s good to beat them because they are a county rival. We had a long streak against them and they had a long streak against us. The great thing is that we enjoy playing and competing against them and they enjoy playing against us.”
Senior wide receiver Tracy Jones reeled in two touchdown catches from Keffer. Man’s big bruising 5-8, 264-pound fullback Neil Mullins also had several bulldozing runs up the middle for 7, 8 and 9-yard chunks.
Man rolled up 305 total yards in the game — 130 passing and 175 rushing — and outgained Chapmanville which had 245 total yards.
QB John Thomas Keffer was 8-for-14 passing with two TDs. The Billies ran with the ball 40 times.
Neil Mullins led Man’s balanced rushing attack with 13 carries for 65 yards.
Jones finished with five catches for 93 yards and two TDs. Cayce Mullins had three grabs for 37 yards.
Christian McCoy, Rowe and Maynard led Man’s defense with six tackles each.
FAYETTEVILLE — It was a close one but the Man High School football team was able to come out on top, 30-25 at Fayetteville on Oct. 4.
Man, ranked No. 5 in the state in the Class A football ratings, improved to 4-1 on the season. Fayetteville dropped to 2-4.
It was the first Class A opponent this season for the Hillbillies, which had beaten three 2A teams and lost to 3A Logan to open the season.
John Thomas Keffer finished 8-for-12 passing for 96 yards and one TD. Tracy Jones had three catches for 52 yards and a score. Cayce Mullins had five grabs for 44 yards.
The Billies were sluggish on offense, rushing 41 times for 158 yards.
Braden Griffin had 16 carries for 55 yards and a score to lead the Billies.
Neil Mullins led the Man defense with eight tackles. Bryce Goff had seven tackles.
River View 8
MAN — The Man High School football team rolled over Class AA River View, 46-8, on Sept. 20 at home.
The Hillbillies proved they are for real.
Man High School won its third straight game — all over Class AA opponents — as the Class A No. 12 Billies swamped Class AA No. 7 Raiders in Man’s annual Hall of Fame Game at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
Man improved to 3-1 with the win.
The victory was Man’s first ever win over River View, a school made up of the former Big Creek and Iaeger high schools. The Raiders had won the only other three meetings.
“It was a great game,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “The kids played well just like last week on all phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams. We dominated up front. Our backs ran hard. John Thomas (Keffer) threw the ball well. The defense played great.”
Man’s offensive line paved the way — led by Jeremiah Beavers, Thomas Holt, Dakota Toth, Joey Buchannan, Christain McCoy and tight end Gage Harvey — as the Billies would score 32 unanswered points in the first half to take a commanding 32-0 lead into the locker room.
Man racked up 306 total yards on offense, with 220 on the ground and 86 through the air.
Braden Griffin had 109 yards rushing on 15 carries and two TDs for the Billies. Reserve Patrick Wiley had 40 yards on seven carries, while Mikle Scott Rowe had seven rushes for 39 yards.
Sophomore QB John Thomas Keffer was 6-for-12 passing for 86 yards and one interception. Tracy Jones had one catch for 36 yards. Cayce Mullins had two grabs for 15 yards and a touchdown.
Man held the Raiders to only 127 yards of total offense — including 74 yards on the ground and 56 in the air.
McCoy and Beavers had one sack each for the Billies. Noah Maynard and McCoy led the Man defense with seven tackles each. Jones had six stops and one pick.
CLEAR FORK — It just seems like it’s getting better and better for the Man High School football team.
The Hillbillies beat a Class AA opponent for the second straight week as Man went on the road on Sept. 13 and downed the Westside Renegades 22-14 at Clear Fork.
Man improved to 2-1 on the season and matched its win total from last year.
The Billies, which have suffered three straight losing grid campaigns since reaching the Super Six in Wheeling four years ago, have positioned themselves into the early Class A playoff picture.
Man’s defense was the difference against the Renegades (1-2).
After giving up 14 first quarter points to the Renegades, Man’s “Blue Funk” defense held the home team scoreless through the final three periods of play as the Billies won back-to-back road games for the first time since 2009.
Braden Griffin returned to the Man backfield after banging up his shoulder in the season opening Logan game and sitting out last week at Mount View. He ended up having a huge game as he rushed for 135 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Man quarterback John Thomas Keffer was 12-for-21 passing for 120 yards and a touchdown.
“This was our best defensive performance since 2009,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “It was a total team effort tonight. Our kids battled to the end and we came away with a big win.”
Leading Man’s defense was Neil Mullins with seven tackles. Robert Caudill and Christian McCoy had six tackles each. Cayce Mullins and McCoy had one QB sack each. Man’s defense also scored two safeties for four points in a football rarity.
Mount View 0
WELCH — The Man High School football team picked up its first win of the season on the road on Sept. 6 in convincing fashion with a 44-0 shutout over the Mount View Golden Knights at Welch.
Man (1-1) got a fine performance from senior Cayce Mullins, who was moved to running back in place of starter Braden Griffin, who suffered a shoulder injury in the season opening Logan game and did not suit up.
Mullins answered the call and had a huge game by returning a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns and also catching a touchdown pass out of the backfield.
Hillbillies’ QB John Thomas Keffer also had a big game as he tossed two TD passes in the Man victory. The Billies’ defense also came up big, pitching the shutout over the Golden Knights (0-2).
Man simply crushed Mount View and took home the brand new Man-Mount View travelling trophy. Man, winners of six straight over the Golden Knights, have played Mount View 35 years in a row on the gridiron.
Man coach Harvey Arms was pleased with the win.
“We played great,” Arms said. “It was a very competitive game early with a scoreless first period but we broke it open to start the second half on that kickoff return for a touchdown by Cayce and we didn’t turn the ball over. Our defense also played well with the shutout.”
MAN — Logan doubled up on its county rival Man in the Aug. 30 season opener, downing the Hillbillies 40-20 at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
Senior Logan running back Brynden “Worm” Street rushed 12 times for 141 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown jaunt and two two-point conversions.
It didn’t take long for Logan to take the lead for good as QB Ryan Miller hooked up with the speedy Josh Rein for a 59-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage just 15 seconds into the game.
It was all Logan from there.
John Thomas Keffer was 11-for-21 passing for 140 yards with one touchdown and one interception for Man. Tracy Jones had five catches for 115 yards and a score.
Neil Mullins rushed 10 times for 58 yards and one TD.