The Man vs. Logan football series has been a tradition in the southern West Virginia coalfields over the years.
The yearly Logan County rivalry, played in Week 1 of the season the last 34 years, brings in large crowds and plenty of excitement to both the Hillbilly and Wildcat fans.
The last time the two schools didn’t meet in the season opener was in 1985 when Man was a 41-6 winner over Princeton.
Man and Logan have played each other almost every year going back to the 1920s.
The last time the two teams didn’t play each other was in 1969.
But that streak is likely to come to an end this fall.
The Secondary School Activities Commission on Friday pushed back the start of preseason practice for several sports, including football, from Aug. 3 to Aug. 17 due to COVID-19 concerns, and canceled all games during what would have been the opening weekend of football season (Aug. 27-29). The first day games will be permitted is Thursday, Sept. 3.
The SSAC decision came two days after Gov. Jim Justice announced that statewide schools won’t reopen until Sept. 8.
The cancellation of all opening-week games placed some of the state’s top rivalry matchups in doubt, including the Man vs. Logan game, which was originally scheduled to be played on Thursday, August 27 at Logan’s Willis-Nisbet Stadium.
Other Week One opener and rival games such as: Bluefield at Graham, Virginia; Spring Valley at Cabell Midland; Hurricane at Winfield; Nitro at Poca; Wyoming East at Westside; Mingo Central at Belfry, Kentucky in the Pike County Bowl; Oak Glen at Weir; Liberty Raleigh at Independence, Wayne at Tolsia and Grafton at Philip Barbour are also in doubt.
“I didn’t know until Friday night what the plan was. They said they were going to move the practices forward and I didn’t know if they were going to cancel it or move everything up a week or what but then I found out that they were going to cancel Week One,” Man coach Harvey Arms said.
It’s not likely the Man-Logan game will be played.
That’s a big blow financially as well to Logan, since it was their home game. Man hosted last year’s game with Wildcats at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field, winning 62-8 en route to an 8-3 season and a berth in the Class AA playoffs.
“It’s really tough for Logan because it’s their home game and they will probably lose their best gate,” Arms said. “The real shame of it is that it’s a rivalry game. All over the state there are a lot of teams that have their rivalry week in the first week of the season. It’s not likely to get them in.”
Added Logan coach Jimmy Sheppard, “That game is normally two-third of the percentage of our revenue for the year,.”
There was also the chance a moving the Logan-Man game to an open week, but the Hillbillies and Wildcats do not share the same bye week. Man’s open date is October 9, while Logan’s is set for October 16.
Nitro and Poca, two Cardinal Conference rivals, were able to do this as both were fortunate in that they both had the same off week on their original schedule (Oct. 16), and agreed to move their game to that date.
Man and Logan are not as lucky.
“We don’t have the same open week,” Arms said. “So I don’t know what the possibilities are in order to work out another date to play it. We just missed it by one week. We are open in Week 7 and they are open in Week 8.”
There’s also the possibility of playing the Logan-Man game on a Monday at some point of the season but Arms said that would not work as both teams would have to play a game on a Friday, then a Monday and then on another Friday, meaning there would have to be three games played over a span of seven days.
“If it were a situation where you could play on the Monday of the first week maybe you could get two games in but I don’t know how you could play on a Friday night and then come back and play on a Monday night,” Arms said. “I know some teams have played on the first Monday and then the Friday night also.”
While the Logan-Man game might not be played each school could possibly find other schools around the state that share the same bye week to get to that 10th game.
“If a team has the same open week you could reschedule someone and you could have a 10th game,” Arms said. “I don’t know what that availability would be because I don’t know how many teams would have that same open week.”
Man has several possible options.
Chapmanville and Mingo Central, which are both already on Man’s schedule, are off on October 9 as well. The Hillbillies could play the Tigers or the Miners twice and make it a home and away series.
Man is already set to play at Mingo on September 18 and host Chapmanville in the November 6 regular season finale.
Since Man will be dropping down to Class A this fall, six other Single-A teams from around the state share the same bye week. Those schools are East Hardy, James Monroe, Richwood, Summers County, Tucker County and Williamstown.
Four Class AA teams — Grafton, Liberty Harrison, Lincoln and Robert C. Byrd — are open as well on October 9.
A far less likely route would be scheduling a Triple-A game.. Four Class AAA teams — Cabell Midland, Jefferson, Parkersburg South and University — also have a bye week that week.
Single-A teams Mount View and River View also currently only have eight games scheduled. The Billies play Mount View already on September 4 but do not play the Raiders this season.
In Logan’s Class AA, Herbert Hoover, Philip Barbour and Pikeview share open dates with the Wildcats on October 16. Logan, however, already has a Cardinal Conference game scheduled with Hoover on November 6 in the finale at home.
Class AAA schools Hedgesville, Hurricane, Oak Hill and Parkersburg and Single-A teams Mount View, Paden City, River View and nearby Tug Valley are also scheduling possibilities for Logan as all those schools have open dates on October 16 as well.
Arms said the late practice start date will likely cut out one preseason scrimmage as well.
“You could get in one scrimmage maybe if they would allow it,” Arms said. “I haven’t seen anything that Bernie Dolan said about that. He said they would get an e-mail out to the schools soon and in that e-mail we should be able to know more. By starting the practices on August 17 and the first possible play date on September 3, in the preseason practice time we are going to lose about five or six practice dates. That pretty much cuts out one scrimmage if you are allowed to scrimmage at all.”
Everything, however, is a moving target and things could change.
“You just don’t know,” Arms said. “We will have three weeks from the end of our three-week practice period until the start of regular practices and who knows what will happen during that time period.”
Arms said his team’s three-week practice period is going well so far.
“We’ve had a full week. The numbers are pretty decent and the kids have been practicing,” he said. “It’s going OK but there’s not a lot you can get done other than the conditioning with all of the restrictions. You can’t use helmets and you can’t even use hand shields. You are pretty limited with what you can do. We can run plays but we are trying to keep our distance the best that we can.”
With many players coming back from last year’s team, Man is likely to have another big year on the gridiron. The Billies are slated to play new opponents Wheeling Central, Buffalo, Independence and Class AA Mingo Central this season.
Man is still also slated to play Class AA Point Pleasant, a usual state powerhouse, which had a down year last season but still managed to hand Man a 7-0 loss.
“I think that we have a good opportunity this season,” Arms said. “Of course, in this situation that we are in now you just don’t know from one day to the next what is going to come up.”
Man might also be adding a junior transfer from Belfry, Kentucky to its team this year in Israel Canterbury. He started two games at quarterback for the state champion Pirates last season. Belfry beat Bell County, 30-20, in last year’s Class 3A state title game at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field in Lexington.
Canterbury is also a former student at Lenore Middle School.
“We’ll have to wait until school starts and see who enrolls. I have no comment on it,” Arms said.
Logan leads the all-time series with Man 52-28-1. Man’s win over the Cats last year broke a four-game skid to the Wildcats.
Logan is 14-6 vs. Man in the last 20 meetings dating back to 2000.
Logan is coming off a 1-9 season. The lone win was a 35-0 victory over Scott.
Rick Ryan of the Charleton Gazette-Mail contributed to this report.
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Man vs. Logan Football Series:
Last year’s meeting: Man won 62-8
All-time series: Logan leads 52-28-1
First meeting: 1923 (Logan won 60-0)
Series since 2000: Logan leads 14-6
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Logan vs. Man Year by Year:
2019: Man 62, Logan 8
2018: Logan 20, Man 14
2017: Logan 26, Man 8
2016: Logan 48, Man 13
2015: Man 18, Logan 13
2014: Man 32, Logan 26 (OT)
2013: Logan 40, Man 20
2012: Logan 33, Man 0
2011: Logan 30, Man 7
2010: Logan 55, Man 18
2009: Man 34, Logan 7
2008: Logan 14, Man 12
2007: Logan 33, Man 14
2006: Man 18, Logan 13
2005: Logan 12, Man 10
2004: Man 22, Logan 18
2003: Logan 18, Man 0
2002: Logan 27, Man 6
2001: Logan 19, Man 0
2000: Logan 49, Man 9
1999: Logan 18, Man 7
1998: Man 46, Logan 21
1997: Man 55, Logan 0
1996: Man 13, Logan 12
1995: Man 20, Logan 12
1994: Logan 6, Man 0
1993: Logan 20, Man 16
1992: Man 20, Logan 0
1991: Man 17, Logan 12
1990: Logan 15, Man 14
1989: Man 20, Logan 0
1988: Logan 7, Man 0
1987: Logan 26, Man 0
1986: Man 24, Logan 7
1985: Logan 20, Man 14
1984: Man 24, Logan 0
1983: Man 18, Logan 0
1982: Man 15, Logan 0
1981: Man 7, Logan 0
1980: Man 20, Logan 0
1979: Man 10, Logan 6
1978: Man 26, Logan 0
1977: Man 28, Logan 6
1976: Man 14, Logan 6
1975: Man 26, Logan 0
1974: Logan 7, Man 0
1973: Logan 36, Man 27
1972: Man 20, Logan 0
1971: Logan 18, Man 6
1970: Logan 8, Man 0
1967: Logan 53, Man 0
1966: Logan 20, Man 7
1965: Logan 18, Man 6
1964: Logan 54, Man 14
1963: Logan 12, Man 0
1961: Logan 31, Man 6
1960: Logan 28, Man 0
1959: Man 18, Logan 6
1958: Logan 19, Man 13
1957: Man 12, Logan 7
1956: Logan 27, Man 0
1955: Logan 2, Man 0
1954: Logan 20, Man 6
1953: Man 6, Logan 0
1952: Logan 21, Man 0
1951: Logan 27, Man 6
1950: Logan 13, Man 0
1940: Logan 34, Man 0
1939: Logan 20, Man 0
1938: Logan 33, Man 0
1937: Logan 31, Man 0
1936: Logan 12, Man 6
1935: Logan 27, Man 0
1934: Logan 0, Man 0 (tie)
1933: Logan 20, Man 0
1932: Logan 27, Man 0
1931: Logan 20, Man 0
1925: Logan 46, Man 6
1924: Logan 12, Man 0
1923: Logan 60, Man 0