The Man High School football team currently stands at 1-3 on the season after last week’s 26-24 close loss at home to Class AA No. 3 and unbeaten River View.
Mingo Central, a first-year consolidated 2A school made up of the former Gilbert, Matewan, Williamson and Burch high schools, are 1-2 after falling 28-20 at Westside last week.
The Hillbillies and Miners both desperately need a win this week and one of them is going to get one as Man is scheduled to host Mingo Central on Friday night at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Stadium.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
It’s the first ever meeting between the two schools.
No extra motivation will be needed for the Billies and Miners.
That’s because there’s a sense of urgency for both teams.
It’s do or die.
Almost do or die, that is.
Despite the 1-3 record, Man played River View tough last week and that’s giving the Billies a lot of hope.
“We played pretty well,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “Going into the game we thought that River View was one of the better teams around. They had good receivers, a quarterback that could throw the ball well and they were really good up front, too. Our kids played tough.”
Mingo Central, coached by Yogi Kinder, are led by quarterback Ashton Cline, who was 18-for-29 passing for 226 yards with two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in last week’s loss to Westside.
Wide receiver Joe May had 10 catches for 144 yards and two scores of 17 and 51 yards. Corey Daniels had six grabs for 62 more yards.
The Miners’ ground game, however, sputtered against the Renegades, managing just 48 yards on 27 carries, an average of less than two yards an attempt. May led the way with nine carries for 20 yards. Joe Canterbury was held to 17 yards rushing on eight tries.
Drew Kirk led the Mingo Central defense last week with 17 total tackles, including 11 solos and six assists. R.J. Collins also had 17 total stops with eight solos and nine assists. Cline had seven solos, two assists and a fumble recovery.
Mingo Central cut Westside’s lead to 28-20 with freshman Chance Lester’s 13-yard TD run on the last play of the third quarter. But that was as close as the Miners would get as the fourth quarter ended up being scoreless.
Coach Kinder, who led the former Matewan High School to many playoff berths over the years, including a Class A state championship, was disappointed with the defeat.
“This was another game I thought we should have and could have won,” Coach Kinder said. “The kids, I just don’t think their effort was what it should be. We’re lacking leadership. I never thought that would happen after we got all these kids together. You can’t play this game if you don’t have some emotions. The score was close, but they’re all going to be close. It’s a shame.”
Arms said the Miners are solid.
“We saw them play against River View and they were going to the no-huddle offense and were calling the plays from the sideline,” he said. “They pick up the tempo of the game. They use a good mix of the run and the pass and their quarterback throws deep. They’ve played pretty well, too. They have lost two games but the River View game for them was a lot like ours. This is going to be a tough one for us.”
Man surprised everyone last week by starting Caycee Mullins at quarterback in place of Shane Browning in the defeat to River View.
In fact, Coach Arms shook up his lineup as he started seven new players, including Gage Harvey at tight end, Joey Buchannon at guard, Dakota Toth at center, Noah Maynard at defensive end, Brandon Gibson at defensive tackle and Browning on defense for the first time.
Man rushed for 179 yards on 46 carries and Mullins had 145 yards in the air on 10-of-14 passing. River View ran for 221 yards and had 152 passing to outgain the Billies 373-324 in total yards.
“Caycee was 10-for-14 passing and we talked about it after the game,” Arms said. “We couldn’t remember when was the last (Man) quarterback to complete 10 passes in a game. Man has traditionally been a running team. Caycee played really well. Shane was sick and went home early from school. We didn’t know who would start right up until kickoff. Shane was under the weather but played some on defense and played pretty well.”
So who is going to start against the Miners?
Mullins or Browning?
“That will be a game-time decision,” Arms said.
The Billies were led by senior running back Kyle Johnson who rushed for 95 yards on 19 carries last week. Fullback Jimmy Duba had 57 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. Justin Cantrell led Man’s receiving corps as he snared three passes for 81 yards and a TD. Tommy Belcher added 33 yards receiving on five catches.
Duba led the Man defense with 11 tackles and one interception. Gibson recorded 10 tackles.
Man played River View much closer than many thought.
The Billies trailed just 26-24 late in the third quarter after Duba’s 3-yard TD run and a two-point conversion run by Mullins, leaving Man just a field goal away from victory.
Man had one last chance in the final minute of the game as Mullins found Belcher for a first down completion to the River View 48-yard line on a fourth-and-two play. Man was forced to call its last timeout with 39 seconds left in the game.
The Billies were hoping to drive the ball another 30-35 yards to have a realistic shot at a potential game-winning kick but on the next play from scrimmage River View’s Austin Walker intercepted Mullins to seal the win.
Mingo Central played the same River View Raiders just two weeks ago and lost 34-26 at Welch.
Man and Mingo Central also share another opponent – Westside – a team Man lost to 33-6 on Sept. 9.