MAN — The Man High School football team and Hillbilly Nation are rallying around head coach Harvey Arms and each other this week.
The Arms family and the Man football community is mourning following the death of Coach Arms’ mother Hazel, a native of Robinette, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 88. She was buried on Monday.
Coach Arms is expected to rejoin the team this week as the Hillbillies have another big game on Friday night as Man (3-1) travels to Fayetteville (2-3) in a battle of Class A teams at the Fayetteville High School football field.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Billies were off last week and rose to No. 8 in the state in the Class A football ratings.
Man’s last game was a 46-8 blowout win on Sept. 20 at home over then Class AA No. 7 River View.
The Billies, with games left against Fayetteville, Chapmanville, Tug Valley, Pocahontas County, Sherman and Van, hope to run the table and finish with a 9-1 record, or at least, lock up enough points to not only qualify for the Class A state playoffs but also to host a first-round post-season game.
The rebuilding of the Man football program is well under way this season.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround already after five weeks.
The Billies endured three straight losing seasons after going 12-2 in 2009 and playing in the Class A state championship game at the Wheeling Super Six.
And now, with three straight wins — all over Class AA teams — the Man football team is 3-1 heading into this week’s contest at Fayetteville, a team it beat 48-13 last season.
After falling 40-20 in the season opener at home to Class AAA county rival Logan, the Billies have reeled off wins over Mount View (44-0), Westside (22-14) and River View.
Fayetteville is coming off a 44-34 loss at home last week to rival Valley Fayette, which improved to 4-0. The Pirates lost 26-14 at Meadow Bridge on Sept. 20 and have won over Midland Trail (52-6) and Richwood (61-0). Fayetteville has also lost to Wahama (60-26).
Man and Fayetteville are no strangers to each other. The Billies lead the series with the Pirates 8-6 since 2000 and have won four out of the last six, including a 37-26 victory over Fayetteville in the Class A state playoffs at Man in ‘09. The Billies would go on to play that year in the state championship game, falling to Weirton Madonna, 27-7, at a frigid Wheeling Island Stadium.
The Pirates are led by quarterback Will Fenton and running backs Jake Alton and Tasheem Saunders. Fenton fired a 28-yard TD pass to Alton in the Meadow Bridge game. Saunders had a 21-yard TD run.
Fenton was 9-for-18 passing for 64 yards with one TD and two interceptions against Meadow Bridge. Saunders rushed 16 times for 116 yards, while Alton had seven carries for 49 yards and two catches for 34 yards. James Criss also had a grab for 21 yards.
The Pirates must be able to shore up their defense against Man.
In the loss to Meadow Bridge, Fayetteville’s defense allowed the Wildcats’ Jake Parker to amass 327 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. Parker scored on bursts of 71 and 94 yards.
Saunders, Austin Simmons and Alton have rushed for more than 100 yards in a game this season for the Pirates. Cameron Underwood rushed for 99 yards in another.
Fayetteville is coached by veteran mentor Frank Spangler.
If Man can beat Fayetteville — the Oct. 11 homecoming showdown with Class AA county rival Chapmanville will be very big as far as playoff implications go. The Tigers are 3-2 and saw their three-game winning streak snapped with last week’s 27-14 loss at home to Logan.
After the Chapmanville clash, Man then has four perceived beatable Class A foes to close out the season as Man goes to Sherman on Oct. 18, hosts Pocahontas County on Oct. 25, travels to Tug Valley on Nov. 1 and then finishes out with a Nov. 8 home game with the Van Bulldogs.
Sherman, just 1-9 last year, is currently 2-3 after losing to Liberty Raleigh last week, 28-13. The Tide lost 20-6 at Tug Valley in the opener.
Pocahontas County is 2-3 after winning 43-25 at home over Richwood last week.
Tug Valley, which beat a young Man team last season, has struggled this fall as the Panthers are 2-3. Tug Valley was blown out 50-6 at Haysi (Va.) two weeks ago and lost 34-14 last Friday night at 2A Tolsia. The Panthers barely squeaked by Mount View (18-12) in Week 3, a team the Billies beat by six touchdowns.
Van, coming off a 2-7 season in 2012, is currently 1-3. The Bulldogs lost 36-13 at home to Midland Trail last week.
Man racked up 306 total yards on offense against River View, with 220 on the ground and 86 through the air.
Running back Braden Griffin had 109 yards rushing on 15 carries and two TDs. QB John Thomas Keffer was 6-for-12 passing for 86 yards and one interception.
Man dominated the game in the first down battle 18-7 and held the Raiders to only 127 yards of total offense — including 74 yards on the ground and 56 in the air.
Noah Maynard and McCoy led the Man defense with seven tackles each. Tracy Jones had six stops and one interception. McCoy and Beavers had one sack each for the Billies.
On the season, Keffer is 39-for-74 passing for 524 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Griffin leads Man’s balanced rushing attack with 45 carries for 278 yards and four TDs. Mikle Scott Rowe has 34 carries for 119 yards and one score. Neil Mullins has 23 rushes for 105 yards and one TD.
Jones is Man’s leading receiver with 15 catches for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Cayce Mullins has 18 grabs for 191 yards and three scores.
Rowe has punted 11 times this season for an average of 29.7 yards per boot.
Christian McCoy leads the Billies’ defense with 25 total tackles, 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss.
Maynard has 21 tackles, one sack and 6.5 tackles for loss.
Harvey has 18 tackles and two TFL, while Jeremiah Beavers has 17 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 6 TFL. Jones has 17 total stops and 3.5 tackles for loss. Rowe checks in with 15 tackles and two tackles for loss. Thomas Holt has 14 tackles and 1 TFL.
Neil Mullins, Ross Osborne and Jones each have one interception.
Man-Fayetteville Football Series
Since 2000 (Man leads 8-6):
2012: Man 48, Fayetteville 13
2011: Fayetteville 21, Man 0
2010: Fayetteville 24, Man 14
2009: Man 23, Fayetteville 7
2009: Man 37, Fayetteville 26 (Class A playoffs at Man)
2008: Man 20, Fayetteville 10
2007: Fayetteville 31, Man 14
2006: Man 40, Fayetteville 12
2005: Man 42, Fayetteville 13
2004: Man 32, Fayetteville 0
2003: Fayetteville 33, Man 12
2002: Fayetteville 34. Man 21
2001: Man 13, Fayetteville 10
2000: Fayetteville 49, Man 26