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Hillbillies face perennial power Wheeling Central in opening round

Man quarterback Jayden Brumfield (1) fakes a handoff to Jordan Adams (3) in last week's loss to Chapmanville (Dave Adkins/Dave's Sports Page).

Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports

MAN Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2019, the Man Hillbillies will face a tall task Saturday afternoon as they travel to take on 11-time state champion Wheeling Central.

The first-round matchup originally scheduled for Friday at Wheeling University’s Bishop Schmitt Field was moved to Wheeling Island Stadium at 4 p.m. on Saturday due to inclement weather forecasted for Friday.

The Hillbillies (7-3) seeded 12th in the 16-team Class A playoff field will be hoping for a better outcome than last season’s matchup that saw Wheeling Central win 49-21.

The Maroon Knights (8-1) are the fifth seed in the playoffs and have won 10 Class A championships since 2000.

“I told the kids Monday evening, it’s like Ric Flair said, ‘If you want to be the man, you got to beat the man’,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “We are going to go over, give it our best effort and hope that we can get that victory.”

Man is making its 21st appearance in the postseason in school history. The Hillbillies are 15-20 all-time in the playoffs and have lost their last four playoff games since finishing runner up in Class A during the 2009 season.

Of Man’s previous 20 appearances, 11 have came as a Class AA school while eight have came at the Class A level and two in Class AAA. The Hillbillies are just one of a select few to have qualified for the playoffs in all three classes in West Virginia.

Wheeling Central will be making their 28th appearance in school history and are 64-14 all-time in the postseason. The Maroon Knights have won one state championship in Class AA (1979) and have 10 more in West Virginia’s small school division winning championships in 2000, 2002, 2004-07, 2011 and 2017-19.

Man is coming off a 28-0 loss to county rival Chapmanville in a game that cost the Hillbillies an opportunity to host a first-round playoff game.

“You just got to go out every week and put it on the line,” Arms said. " I think that is what we did and that one didn’t come out in our favor, but we march on to the next one.”

The loss, one of three to Class AA playoff teams, Logan (20-7) and Independence (54-0) being the other two, dropped the Hillbillies to 7-3 on the year.

“We are proud of it, we made good improvement over last year and played some real good teams. We played so real good football and even in the games we lost we played good football,” Arms said. “That is what it is all about and that is why we are out here trying to get the best out of them and they have done a good job all year and we have competed against everybody that we have played.”

In Wheeling Central, Man will face a team that has just one loss on the year. The Maroon Knights were defeated by Beaver Local (Ohio), 49-35, on Oct. 21.

The Maroon Knights are coming off a bye week and haven’t played since defeating Berkely Springs, 67-6, on Oct. 28.

Man will have to find a way to slow down running backs Lorenzo Ferrera and Riley Watkins. The duo has combined to rush for 1,893 yards and 28 touchdowns this season.

Ferrera has rushed for 1,076 yards and scored 19 touchdowns and also leads the team in receptions (23), receiving yards (456) and receiving touchdowns (8). Watkins has rushed for 817 yards and has scored nine touchdowns this season for the Maroon Knights.

A win Saturday over Wheeling Central would be the first ever in school history for the Hillbillies. Man is 0-4 all-time having lost to the Maroon Knights in 1990, 1991, 2020 and last season.

Saturday’s winner will face the winner of fourth seed Wahama and 13th seed St. Marys.



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