Man senior Chris Isaacs (31) returns a first quarter kickoff in the Hillbillies 24-8 victory over Tug Valley last week (Dave Adkins/Dave's Sports Page).
Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports
MAN Fresh off a playoff clinching win at Tug Valley last week, Class A No. 9 Man hopes to secure a home game in the opening round of next week’s playoffs with a win Friday night over Class AA No. 12 and county rival Chapmanville.
The Hillbillies defeated the Panthers last week, 24-8, at Bob Brewer Stadium in Naugatuck. The game, which resembled a playoff atmosphere, was a game that guaranteed the winner a berth in the Class A field of 16, while the loser was still in control of their own destiny heading into the final week of the regular season.
Man came away with the win and jumped to ninth in the latest playoff ratings while Tug Valley dropped from 14th to 16th in the Class A ratings.
“It was a good ballgame and had playoff implications for both teams,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “So far it has worked out good for both of us because we are nine and Tug is still at 16.”
The Hillbillies overcame a lot of adversity, mainly turnovers and penalties on their first three opening drives as the Hillbillies lost fumbles at the Tug Valley 1- and 21-yard line and was intercepted at the Tug Valley 26 on their third possession of the opening quarter.
Despite the turnovers issues, Man found a way to overcome its mistakes and clinch a postseason berth for the first time in three years.
“We got a great start and our mistakes, turnovers and penalties, put us in the hole,” Arms said. “We just fought back out of it and in the second half our kids really played a lot better on defense than what we did in the first half, and we were able to fight through it.”
Man turns its attention to Chapmanville and hopes of securing a first-round home game with a victory over the Tigers.
A win coupled with a win from either Buffalo, Mount View, Westside or Wyoming East would guarantee the Hillbillies homefield in the opening round.
“That is what we are playing for, and we have stressed all week that we are playing for a home game in the playoffs,” Arms said. “We got to get out here, give it our best shot and win this one.”
A Man win and a Tug Valley win over No. 7 Van could vault the Hillbillies up to sixth in the final ratings, but a win and losses by co-No. 3’s Cameron and Tucker County, No. 5 Wahama and Van could jump Man as high as third.
A loss to Chapmanville and the Hillbillies would finish no worse than 12th and hit the round for next week’s opening round.
“I never fool with predicting and prognosticating,” Arms said. “We will play our game, try to do the best we can and look at the standings after the game is over.”
Chapmanville (6-3) enters the game on a three-game winning streak and can clinch a spot in the Class AA playoffs with a win over Man.
The Tigers have been in win mode since coming out of their bye week four weeks ago.
“They are pretty much in the same situation as we are,” Arms said. "They are coming in here looking for that win to make them a certain playoff team.”
A win over Man and a Herbert Hoover loss to Logan would move the Tigers to ninth in the final Class AA ratings.
“I don’t know what would have to happen for them to get up to where they would get homefield advantage, but I am sure they are pretty much playing the same way we are,” Arms said. “Hoping for a win and hoping to get up into homefield advantage.”
Friday’s game will be the last regular season home game for nine Man High School seniors, who hope to play at least one more home game in the postseason.
“Good bunch of seniors that have played really well all season,” Arms said. "We just hope to finish it out good.”