MAN — It’s starting to look like 2009 all over again for the Man High School football team.
If you are a Hillbillies’ fan that’s good.
Man, the No. 6-ranked Class A team in the state, took a major step toward the playoffs and the road to Wheeling with Friday night’s 26-22 nailbiter of a win over county rival Chapmanville in the annual Man High School homecoming game at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
Man improved to 5-1 on the season and snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Tigers (4-3), the No. 11-ranked Class AA team in the state. The two teams are now an even 7-7 since the county series was resumed in 2000. Man holds a decisive edge in the all-time series.
It was a huge win for the Billies to say the least.
Chapmanville represented the last Class AA team on Man’s schedule and the Billies were glad to pick up the Double-A points and Chapmanville bonus points in the WVSSAC’s computer ratings system.
Man, winners of five straight games since a season opening loss at home to Class AAA county rival Logan, have now gone 4-0 against Double-A teams this season.
The Hillbillies are red hot and hope to run the table in their last four games against Class A opponents Sherman, Pocahontas County, Tug Valley and Van. All four remaining teams have losing records and Man hopes win them all.
If that happens, Man would finish the regular season 9-1 and would almost be assured of homefield advantage for the state playoffs.
The last time Man was 9-1 in a regular season was four years ago in the Billies’ “Goats and Glory” season. That year, Man won three playoffs games and advanced to the Wheeling Super Six before falling 27-7 to Weirton Madonna in the Class A state championship game on a frozen Wheeling Island Stadium turf.
The only other blemish in Man’s 2009 season was a 16-14 setback at home to the same Chapmanville Tigers.
This time, the Billies would not let Chapmanville escape victorious and spoil the Man homecoming festivities.
Just like in ‘09, the outcome of the county clash was in doubt until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Down 26-22, Chapmanville, led by quarterback Alex Berry, was driving the ball down field into Man territory.
It was going to come down to the wire just as many people had predicted given both teams have vastly improved from last season in all facets of the the game.
Chapmanville drove the ball all the way down to the Man 19-yard line but faced a fourth-and-eight after Berry was sacked for a 5-yard loss by Mikle Scott Rowe on third down.
The Tigers had one chance and most people in the stadium thought Chapmanville might go to 6-foot-5 senior clutch wide receiver Brady Cox. He had a 24-yard catch amid triple coverage earlier in the drive to give CRHS a first-and-10 at the 21.
Berry dropped back and threw what seemed like a perfect pass to a streaking Cox down the sideline. Man freshman Tyler Grimmett read the pass and stepped right in front of Cox for the interception at the 10-yard line. Grimmett took the ball to the 35 and with 1:35 left in the game, the Billies had the game in the bag.
Two running plays, a personal foul penalty by Chapmanville and a knee by Man QB John Thomas Keffer was then enough for the Billies to run out the clock and preserve the win.
As expected, Man coach Harvey Arms was thrilled with his team’s win and performance. The Billies’ three-year string of losing seasons seems like a distant memory now.
“What a great high school football game,” Arms said. “The fans got every penny’s worth of what they paid tonight to get in here. Both teams fought and battled and it went up and down. This is what you come and play for. It’s good to win any game and it’s good to beat them because they are a county rival. We had a long streak against them and they had a long streak against us. The great thing is that we enjoy playing and competing against them and they enjoy playing against us.”
With four games left in the season against perceived beatable foes, Man isn’t going to take anything for granted. The next step is at Sherman this coming Friday night.
“The thing about it is that we have to make it big,” Arms said of his team’s remaining games. “We did what we had to do here tonight. We have to finish out the season strong the rest of the way.”
Arms had praise for Grimmett for getting the huge game-saving pick.
“That’s a freshman there and to come off the sideline and make that play is huge,” Arms said.
Arms said he thought Chapmanville might go to Cox and Man’s defense was ready for it. Cox had make some big catches throughout the night and is the Tigers’ go-to man.
“They looked for him every other time they needed a big play and we knew they were looking for him,” he said.
So many Man players had a hand in the win.
Senior wide receiver Tracy Jones made two touchdown catches from Keffer. Man’s big bruising 5-8, 264-pound fullback Neil Mullins also had several bulldozing runs up the middle for 7, 8 and 9-yard chunks.
Arms had praise for many of his game-changing players.
“Keffer played great as well as Cayce Mullins, Neil Mullins, Mikle Scott Rowe and all of our linemen,” Arms said. “I thought we played very well up front both offensively and defensively. We believe Tracy Jones and Cayce Mullins are in the upper echelon in Class A receivers in the state.”
Neil Mullins helped keep some of Man’s drives going with his plowing runs between the tackles. When asked if Mullins carried about 260 pounds, Arms laughed.
“He might be a biscuit or two above that,” Arms joked. “He played great. We have a lot of running backs and we’ve been able to run by committee. And the good thing is that sometimes one will have a good game and the next game it will be another one. It makes it good for us.”
The Billies led 20-14 at halftime and were driving deep into Chapmanville territory in the third quarter. Man had a first-and-goal at the 9 and looked to go up two scores.
But then came a possible turning point as Man fumbled the ball away. The Tigers were forced to punt but were able to reach the end zone on their next drive as Paul Workman scored on a 1-yard TD run with 1:54 left in the third. Berry then rolled out and hit Cox on the two-point conversion play, putting Chapmanville ahead 22-20.
Instead of two scores up Man was two points down.
It didn’t matter as the Billies regained the lead 26-22 with 7:54 left in the game as Keffer scored on a 4-yard keeper. The conversion failed.
“It (the fumble) didn’t end up mattering but we don’t want to do that again,” Arms said. “We were able to survive it. That’s what you have to do to be a good football team. You have to be able to survive adversity.”
Man’s eventual game-winning drive started at the 33 as Jones recovered an on-side kick by Chapmanville.
A 20-yard completion to Jones during the drive was called back due to an illegal block hanky thrown on the Billies. Man, though, was nudged along by a 15-yard pass interference penalty on the Tigers and a 15-yard Keffer-to-Jones pass play at the 13.
Neil Mullins then tractored his way for 9 yards to the 4 before Keffer’s eventual game-winning TD run.
Keffer had put Man on top 8-0 in the first quarter with an 11-yard TD pass to Jones with 6:55 left. Neil Mullins then ran in the two-point conversion.
Man had to punt on its next possession but after a booming 54-yard kick by Rowe, the Tigers were pinned deep to their own 15-yard line.
Chapmanville, though, struck gold. After a 61-yard pass from Berry to Cox, the Tigers scored with 24.7 ticks left in the first period as Berry tossed a 32-yard strike to Wiley. Berry then hooked up with Wiley on the conversion to tie the game up 8-8.
While the Tigers were going to Cox all night long, Man was looking to Jones.
With 10:23 left until halftime, Keffer fired a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jones — his second of the night — to make it 14-8 Hillbillies. Keffer was stopped short of the goal line on the two-point conversion play. The key play on the drive was a 39-yard pass to Jones to the Tiger 15-yard stripe.
Jones said it was a big win for the Billies against a very good Class AA football team.
“They are a very tough opponent,” Jones said of the Tigers. “Both teams knew what they had to do to win the ballgame. It was the team that was going to execute the best would be the team that was going to come out with the win.”
Jones and Cayce Mullins have been key to Man’s success this season as the traditional grind it out on the ground Billies have mixed it up more with the pass with a more seasoned and improved sophomore QB Keffer leading the troops on the field.
Jones also had an interception on defense and punted once for 39 yards against the Tigers.
“We have a good quarterback who can throw the ball and he realizes that,” Jones said of Keffer. “He’s passing the ball well and he’s helping us out a great deal. We were a young team last year and we’ve improved a lot. We have to take each of our four remaining opponents and take it one game at a time and not look past any of them. Hopefully we can win out.”
After the second TD by Jones, Chapmanville tied it 14-14 with 5:55 left until halftime when Berry took a fourth-and-goal snap from the 1-yard line and dove into the end zone for six. The conversion pass to Cox fell incomplete. The key play on the drive was a 24-yard pass to Zac Casto.
Chapmanville went three-and-out on its next possession and had to punt. Man was able to apply heavy pressure to Tigers’ punter Devin Wiley, who shanked it to the left for only a 7-yard boot to the Man 29.
Five plays later, Kefffer scored his first of two touchdowns on the night with a 5-yard score with 1:12 remaining until the break. Keffer’s run on the two-point conversion failed, leaving the score 20-14 in favor of Man at halftime. The TD drive was helped along by a 15-yard Mack truck-like run up the middle by Neil Mullins.
For Chapmanville, it’s back to the drawing board. The loss to Man was damaging but was not a playoff breaker. The Tigers host Mingo Central (4-2) next Friday night on Senior Night in the home finale before traveling to play at Tolsia (2-4) and at Wayne (5-0). The Tigers end the regular season a week early as Chapmanville’s bye week falls in Week 11.
Two more wins will most certainly get the Tigers back into the Class AA playoffs. One win might end up being enough.
“We just didn’t make the plays when we needed to make them,” Tigers’ coach George Barker said. “It was a lot like the Logan game. We just didn’t make plays when we had the opportunity to. We just made some mistakes and the yellow flags came out and hurt us a few times. I knew that we had to play defense to stop them.”
Barker said Man was able to contain Wiley pretty well as the yards were tough to come by on the ground.
“They’re tough inside the tackles,” Barker said. “They were coming at us and were daring us to throw. We made a few plays but we just didn’t make enough of them. Down the stretch we just didn’t make the plays on defense when we had to. You have to hand it to them. They made the plays when they had to. They are a good football team.”
Barker elected to start Berry, who sat out last week’s James Monroe game after sustaining a concussion against Logan. Berry was cleared to play by the medical staff. Backup QB Jordan Toler, who also missed a game earlier in the season with a concussion, left the game with a possible broken hand.
“Toler was not an option tonight. He may have a broken hand,” Barker said.
Man rolled up 305 total yards in the game — 130 passing and 175 rushing — and outgained Chapmanville which had 245 total yards.
Keffer was 8-for-14 passing with two TDs. The Billies ran with the ball 40 times.
The Billies had 16 first downs to nine for the Tigers.
Neil Mullins led Man’s balanced rushing attack with 13 carries for 65 yards. Keffer had five rushes for 39 yards and two TDs. Rowe added nine attempts for 34 yards. Braden Griffin had six carries for 26 yards while Noah Maynard had three tries for eight yards. Cayce Mullins ran with the ball four times for three yards.
Jones finished with five catches for 93 yards and two TDs. Cayce Mullins had three grabs for 37 yards.
Christian McCoy, Rowe and Maynard led Man’s defense with six tackles each. Neil Mullins, Robert Caudill, Gage Harvey and Thomas Holt had four stops each. Ritchie Nelson, Bryce Goff, Jeremiah Beavers, Cayce Mullins and Jones all had three tackles each.
Tanner Bailey, Jace Duba, Kane Brown and Justin McDaniels each had two tackles. Ross Osborne and Griffen both had a tackle.
Bailey and Rowe each had a QB sack for the Billies.
Man’s defense held Chapmanville to just 30 net yards rushing on 27 carries. Wiley was limited to eight rushes for 23 yards. He also had the TD grab. Paul Workman had 14 attempts for 24 yards. Tanner Dillon had one rush for four yards.
Berry was 11-for-22 passing for 215 yards with one TD and two picks. Cox had four catches for 129 yards. Casto had three grabs for 39 yards. Jacob Dingess snared three passes for 15 yards.
On defense, the Tigers were led by Dillon’s seven tackles and two assists. Matt Dingess had six solos, one assist and one fumble recovery.
Matt Chapman contributed five solo tackles and three assists. Casto and Michael Hall both had five solos and two assists.
Morgan Jackson had four solos and three assists, while Cox and Justin Hensley each had four tackles and one assist. Nick Brumfield had four solos and two assists for the Tigers.
Nate Ramey had two solos and two assists. Wiley and Chris Brewster both had two solos and one assist. Gabe Maynard had one solo tackle and one assist. Toler also had a tackle. Wiley punted four times for an average of 25 yards per boot.
Chapmanville was flagged seven times for 78 yards. The Billies had six yellow hankies for 57 yards.
Barker said Chapmanville has a lot to play for in the last three weeks as the Tigers are still very much alive in the playoff equation.
“We’re 4-3 and I told them at the beginning of the game that this one might help us get there but it won’t make us or break us,” he said. “We just have got to find a way to win. We’re going to try to get to five wins and when we get to five we’re going to try to get to six and then to seven.”
Arms said it’s been great to see his team turn around this fall after three sub .500 seasons.
“Last year, we had a really young team,” he said. “We felt coming in that this would be a big year for us. We felt like we could make a big improvement. We still have some young kids but we have some seniors who are playing well for us too.”
Man gets back into action this Friday night at Sherman. The Tide (2-5), which lost 27-0 at Boone County rival Van on Friday night, were added to the schedule this season.
“We’re looking for good games out of everybody,” Arms said. “When we play teams they are going to look at the ratings and they are going to get ready to play Man.”
* Halee Gibson was named at halftime as Miss Man High School and the 2013 Man Homecoming Queen. Kelly Grimmett and Daryan Thompson were the other senior attendants.
* The Man-Chapmanville game was the MV Metro News Northside Automotive Class A Game of the Week. The Tigers, though, compete in the Double-A ranks.
Cardinal Conference Standings
TEAM CONF ALL
Wayne 4-0 6-0
Sissonville 4-1 5-1
Chapmanville 3-1 4-3
Mingo Central 2-1 4-2
Herbert Hoover 2-3 2-4
Tolsia 1-3 2-4
Poca 1-3 2-5
Scott 1-4 3-4
Friday night’s scores:
Man 26, Chapmanville 22
Mingo Central 68, Poca 14
Wayne 55, Scott 10
Roane County 38, Tolsia 26
Sissonville 48, Herbert Hoover 14
Friday, Oct. 18 games:
Mingo Central at Chapmanville (Senior Night), 7:30 p.m.
Tolsia at Scott, 7:30 p.m.
Wayne at Herbert Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
Clay County at Sissonville, 7:30 p.m.
Poca — BYE WEEK
2013 Man High School
Football Schedule (5-1):
Aug. 30: Logan, L 20-40
Sept. 6: at Mount View, W 44-0
Sept. 13: at Westside, W 22-14
Sept. 20: River View (Hall of Fame Game), W 46-8
Sept. 27: OPEN DATE
Oct. 4: at Fayetteville, W 30-25
Oct. 11: Chapmanville (Homecoming), W 26-22
Oct. 18: at Sherman, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: Pocahontas County, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1: at Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: Van, 7:30 p.m.
2013 Chapmanville Regional High School
Football Schedule (4-3):
Aug. 30: *Sissonville, L 22-40
Sept. 6: *at Herbert Hoover, W 24-18
Sept. 13: *Scott, W 20-13
Sept. 20: *at Poca, W 34-31
Sept. 27: Logan (Hall of Fame Game), L 14-27
Oct. 4: James Monroe (Homecoming), W 36-0
Oct. 11: at Man, L 22-26
Oct. 18: *Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: *at Tolsia, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1: *at Wayne, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: OPEN DATE
*Cardinal Conference game