MAN — Can the Man Hillbillies run the table?
That’s the question that will be answered in the coming weeks as the undefeated Man High School football team moves forward.
The next challenge for Man (6-0), ranked No. 7 last week in the state’s Class AA rankings, is a home clash with Wyoming East (5-1), on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
The Warriors, ranked No. 5 in the state last week, suffered their first loss of the season last Friday in a 27-20 defeat to No. 12 Shady Spring.
Wyoming East had opened the season with wins over Westside (44-14), Nicholas County (22-18), Oak Hill (44-39), Jams Monroe (38-35), and River View (48-20).
Man was idle last week after the originally scheduled road game at Tug Valley was pushed back to Nov. 1. The Billies have a chance to close out the season 10-0 with wins over Wyoming East, at Point Pleasant (1-3) on Oct. 25, at Tug Valley (3-3) on Nov. 1 and at Chapmanville (3-3) on Nov. 8.
Man is hoping to nail down home field advantage for the upcoming playoffs by finishing in the top eight. The Billies are searching for their first post-season berth since 2015. The top 16 teams in each class qualify for the playoffs with the top eight having first round home games.
“We’re hoping to get that home playoff game and get into the playoffs and do well,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “We have to keep winning and every game is a big game for us now. We’ve talked all year long about getting better each week and each game and I think so far that we have. We just have to keep focused and keep playing the way that we have. So far things are working out really well but this one is going to be a big one on Friday night.”
The Billies last played two weeks ago in a 44-0 win at home over Lincoln County.
Man leads the all-time series 7-5 with Wyoming East and have won the last three meetings including last year’s 24-21 victory at on road at New Richmond. Man and East played each other every year from 1999-2009 but did not play each other from 2010-17.
Wyoming East will be tough to beat, Arms said. Since the Billies were off last week, the Man coaching staff was able to scout the Warriors in person.
“We saw them play Shady on Friday night,” Arms said. “They are a good team. They played some good teams too. They have a varied offense. They run the ball well and throw the ball well. Their quarterback throws the ball well and they have two good tall receivers. They also have a couple of good running backs. It’s going to be a good game I think.
The Warriors are led by Caleb Bower, who was coming off three straight 200-yard rushing performances heading into last week’s game. He was stymied by the Shady Spring defense, however, who limited the Warriors to just 98 yards rushing.
Wyoming East also is led by quarterback Seth Ross, who tossed a 67-yard TD pass to Bishop on the Warriors’ first play from scrimmage.
Ross completed 15 of 24 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the game, giving him 10 touchdown passes for the season, a new career high for the three-year-starter. He now has 25 career touchdown tosses.
Bishop reeled in five passes for 117 yards.
Clay Lester had 19 tackles and Tanner Jenkins had 11 tackles, two sacks and two tackles for a loss for East.
Wyoming East coach Larry Thompson said his team has a tough challenge with Man.
“Our backs are against the wall,” Thompson told the Pineville Independent-Herald. “We’re going to see what this team is made of. We’re going to see what type of character we have. We’ve got a tough one next week against (undefeated) Man down in Logan County. We have to show up and we have to play hard. Nothing changes for us. We’re still 5-1. We still have a winning record. They have a bad taste in their mouths now. I think they realized that you just can’t coast because good teams are going to take advantage and that is exactly what happened tonight.”
Man is off to its best start since 2009, the Billies’ Class A state championship game season. That year Man started 5-0 before taking a 16-14 loss at home to Chapmanville. Man then reeled off six straight wins before falling 27-7 to Weirton Madonna in the Class A state finals at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Man’s defense was able to pitch a shutout in the victory over Lincoln County. The Billies allowed just 44 total yards.
Man has yielded just 46 points all season, also shutting out Westside, 40-0, on Sept. 13.
Erick Grimmett, Nick Plumley, Sam Milton, Zack Frye, Brock Muncy, Colton Frye, Quentin Moody, Josh Moody, Cameron Frye and Jeremiah Harless are the statistical leaders on defense.
“Our defense has really played outstanding,” Arms said. “Our defensive coaches have done a good job with them and they have been prepared in every game.”
The Billies have been able to achieve a more balanced offense this season.
Man’s rushing attack has also been balanced.
Freshman Josh Moody leads the way with 31 rushes for 415 yards and seven touchdowns. Cameron Frye has 269 yards on the ground on 30 carries and a pair of scores. Zack Frye has 35 totes for 231 yards and five TDs. Plumley has another 191 yards on 26 carries and five scores. Caleb Milton has another 126 yards and four TDs and Dylan Morris has 105 yards and one touchdown.
Milton has also had a fine season as Man’s quarterback. He’s completed 33 of 61 passes for 764 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
Quentin Moody has 10 catches for 308 yards and four touchdowns on the season. Sam Milton also has reeled in 10 passes for 272 yards and two scores. Cameron Frye has seven grabs for 107 yards and one touchdown.
Arms said his team should be at or near 100 percent going into the game.
“We had three guys who were banged up from the Lincoln County game and, of course, they had all last week off to heal up.” Arms said. “I think that they will be able to go this week but we’ll wait and see.”
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.