MAN — After last week’s 20-0 loss at county rival Chapmanville the Man High School football team’s backs are up against the wall.
With three games in three weeks to close out the regular season the Hillbillies are 2-5 heading into this Friday night’s home game against Roane County.
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Stadium.
After taking on Class AA Roane County, Man travels to Pocahontas County on Oct. 19 and closes out the season Oct. 26 against Tug Valley.
If Man is able to run the table, the Billies would go 5-5 but it remains to be seen if that would be enough to reach the playoffs for the first time in three years. Man, which went to the Class A state championship game in 2009 in Wheeling’s Super Six, is hoping to avoid its third straight losing season.
The Billies are hoping to get back on track this week against Roane County, a team it lost to by a 42-24 score last year on the road.
Man coach Harvey Arms said he doesn’t think a 5-5 record would be enough to make it to the post-season but does not want his team to fold up the tents.
“I think that we have an opportunity to go 5-5,” Arms said. “We have to play well in every game in order to get there. We’ve got two out of three at home and a long trip to Pocahontas County but we have to play well and play smart. We have to get to the point in the game where we can have the big play when we need it.”
Roane County, ranked No. 14 in the state in last week’s Class AA computer ratings, was idle last week. The Raiders carry a 3-3 record into the game.
Roane opened the football season with a 20-6 win at home over Clay County, then lost 42-20 at home to Ritchie County on Aug. 31 before falling 42-24 to Ravenswood, also at home. The Raiders then won at Webster County (15-8) and at Braxton County (31-6) before losing at Ripley (27-19) on Sept. 28 in its last game.
The Raiders are led by sophomore Cody May, who scored two touchdowns on kickoff returns of 95 and 82 yards against Ravenswood earlier in the season. The feature back is John Ash, a 6-foot, 175-pound senior who rushed 20 times for 100 yards against the Red Devils. Hunter Bradley (6-3, 165 junior) added another 74 yards on 15 carries and also fired a 38-yard touchdown pass to J.C. Nichols.
Roane County has some size on its offensive line with Caleb Starcher, a 6-0, 305-pound senior tackle.
“They are 3-3 and they play a pretty tough schedule,” Arms said of the Raiders. “They’re a Double-A team and they pretty much compare to the Double-A teams that we play down here. They have a good quarterback and he’s pretty much the center of their offense. He runs the ball and throws it well too. He also punts and is their return guy. He’s an all-around player. He does a good job for them.”
The Billies were blanked 53-0 by county rivals this season, also getting goose-egged by Logan 33-0 in the season opener.
Chapmanville’s defense held Man’s offense in check, limiting the Hillbillies to just 126 yards of total offense.
Man rushed 38 times for only 104 net yards and freshman quarterback John Thomas Keffer was 2-for-6 passing for 22 yards. Billies’ feature back Braden Griffin had 64 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Chapmanville finished with 284 yards of total offense. The Tigers rushed 38 times for 192 yards and had 89 more yards in the air.
David Belcher finished the game with 12 rushes for 43 yards. Dakota Toth had one catch for 22 yards. Gage Harvey had one grab for six yards.
On defense, Belcher had five tackles and two interceptions for Man. Noah Maynard had eight tackles, including one for loss. Toth and Tracy Jones had 5.5 tackles each.
Arms said Man just couldn’t make the big play against Chapmanville as the Billies lost for the seventh straight year to the 2A Tigers.
“In spots we played pretty well but other times we didn’t,” Arms said. “It has pretty much been the same scenario all season. We needed the big play but we just couldn’t make one. We had a drive going early in the first quarter right after they scored but fumbled on that drive. We had three or four first downs in a row. Near the end we got close to the goal line at about the 3-yard line but couldn’t get in. We just needed to make the big play and just couldn’t make it.”
Man’s special teams are also a concern.
In last week’s Chapmanville game, a poor long snap and heavy pressure on Man punter Justin Cantrell led to a negative 12-yard kick.
“We probably work the most on our special teams and our punt game,” Arms said. “It seems like we have problems with it but we’re still working on it.”
Man’s last two opponents this season are fellow Class A teams.
Pocahontas County is 2-5 and unranked after getting spanked 42-6 at home last week by No. 2 Greenbrier West.
Tug Valley, which dropped to Class A this season and have been added to Man’s schedule this fall, lost 34-30 at Class AA Westside last week. The Panthers stand at 5-2 and were ranked 10th in the state last week.
Arms said his team is healthy heading into the game on Friday night.
“We’re in pretty good physical shape,” he said. “We have just the normal beats and bangs but we’re ready to go.”
Series since 2000:
2011: Roane County 42, Man 24