MAN — Man’s dreams of an undefeated season were dashed following last week’s 7-0 loss at Point Pleasant.
The Hillbillies, however, must put that game behind them and focus on the rest of the season.
Man, 7-1 and ranked No. 5 last week in the state in the Class AA rankings, have two games left in the regular season and the Billies hope to finish strong.
The first one is this Friday night at Class A Tug Valley (5-3). Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Tug Valley’s Bob Brewer Stadium.
The Panthers beat Richwood, 34-15, last Friday night at home. Man then closes out the regular season on Nov. 8 at county rival Chapmanville with the county title on the line.
Man coach Harvey Arms said this week’s game is a big one for the Billies.
“We just need to regroup and try to get back on track,” Arms said. “We’ve looked at our film from last week and we’re going to try to correct some things and do some things better than we did last week. It’s a must win-game for us. We have to have a good week of practice and get out and do the job on Friday night.”
Man and Tug Valley were scheduled to play back on Oct. 11 but the game was moved to this week by mutual agreement.
The Panthers have just nine games on the schedule following the folding of the Clarksburg Notre Dame program this season. Friday’s game will also be the regular season finale for Tug Valley as the Panthers observe a bye week on Nov. 8.
Both the Billies and Panthers are in the playoff race in their respective classes.
Man needs a win Friday to try to break back into the top eight, while the Panthers are fighting for their Class A playoff lives. Man was expected to fall to ninth in this week’s Class AA rankings which were slated to be released on Tuesday.
The Panthers were ranked No. 19 in the state last week in the Class A ratings.
With the top 16 teams in each class making it to the postseason, the Panthers need an upset win over Man to possibly make it. Since Man is Double-A and highly ranked, Tug Valley would get a lot of points in the SSAC’s computer rankings with a victory over the Billies.
Man and Tug Valley have played each other every year since 2012 and have played some spirited games.
The Billies beat the Panthers, 30-8, last season, breaking a three-game skid to Tug. The Panthers beat Man back-to-back years in the Class A playoffs in 2014 and 2015. Tug Valley’s 38-28 postseason win at Man had avenged the Billlies’ 14-12 overtime victory at Tug during the regular season.
Tug Valley also took a 16-12 win over Man in the 2014 playoffs in a game played at Mingo Central’s Buck Harless Stadium.
The Panthers are led by quarterback Ethan Varney, who accounted for 369 yards of total offense in last week’s victory over the Richwood Lumberjacks.
Varney was 15 of 26 passing for 224 yards and three touchdowns and also ran 19 times for 154 yards and another score.
Zack Savage added 102 yards rushing on 14 attempts last week. Caleb May was Varney’s top target as he reeled in 10 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Tanner Kirk had five catches for 61 yards. Easton Davis had a 9-yard TD grab.
“They move the ball well and they throw it a lot,” Arms said of the Panthers. “They probably throw the ball as much as anybody that we’ve played. They can run it too. We expect them to be tough and we’ll have to keep playing good strong defense like we have all year. In last Friday’s game, our defense played great. We just couldn’t get anything on the board. This week, we’ll have to move the ball better and our defense will have to hold up like they have all year long.”
Savage, with 13 total tackles and Grayson Spaulding with 11 stops, were Tug’s top defenders last week.
Man is led by QB Caleb Milton who has completed 46 of 92 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
Freshman Josh Moody leads Man’s balanced ground attack with 49 rushes for 449 yards and nine touchdowns. Cameron Frye has 336 yards on 43 carries and two scores. Zack Frye has 50 rushes for 321 yards and five TDs. Nick Plumley has 32 tries for 197 yards and five touchdowns.
Quentin Moody has 12 catches for 364 yards and four TDs. Sam Milton has 12 grabs for 327 yards and two scores.
On defense, Erick Grimmett leads Man with 69 total tackles and an interception. Zack Frye has 60 tackles, a pick and a sack. Brock Muncy has 52 tackles, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery. Sam Milton has 47 tackles, a blocked punt, 4.5 sacks and an interception.
Tug Valley opened the season with a 22-14 loss at Hurley, Virginia. Tug then reeled off three straight wins over Shreman (32-12), Hannan (56-0) and Van (46-6), before falling to rival Tolsia (44-36) on Sept. 27 and then taking an 80-46 shellacking at home to Pike Central, Kentucky.
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner or email him at email@example.com.