MAN — Tracy Jones is a fine senior wide receiver and cornerback for the Man High School football team.
He’s talking more like a grizzled veteran coach.
After last week’s huge 26-22 victory at home by the Man Hillbillies over the Class AA county rival Chapmanville Tigers in which he caught two touchdown passes from quarterback John Thomas Keffer, Jones was asked about the possibility of Man running the table and winning its last four games against fellow Single-A teams.
Jones, sitting in the locker room with muddy cleats and a gray Man football shirt, didn’t hesitate when asked the question.
Said Jones, “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.”
Man assistant coach James Toth, standing near by and listening, nodded his head.
Jones’ “We’ve got to take it one game at a time” answer might be the oldest sports cliche in the book.
But for Man it’s true.
The Billies, ranked No. 6 in the state in last week’s Class A rankings, were on Cloud 9 over the weekend after winning over Chapmanville and ending a seven-game skid to the Tigers.
Not only was it a good victory on homecoming night, Man also grabbed some additional points since Chapmanville is a Double-A school. Instead of getting six points for a win over a Class A team, Man got nine for Friday night’s victory in the WVSSAC’s ratings system. And with Chapmanville’s bonus points, Man (5-1) should climb even higher this week in the state rankings.
With four games left against Class A teams in which Man will be favored, the likelihood of the Billies closing out 9-1 and grabbing homefield advantage for the playoffs seems within reach.
The first of those games is this Friday night as Man heads to Seth to take on the Sherman Tide (2-5). Sherman, added to the Man football schedule this season, lost 27-0 at Boone County rival Van last week. Man is slated to close out the regular season on Nov. 8 at home against Van (3-3), another new team to the Billies’ schedule.
Man’s other two games are against Pocahontas County (2-5) at home on Oct. 25 and at Tug Valley (2-5) on Nov. 1.
With the Billies’ top-heavy schedule now over, it’s looking good for Man.
But veteran Man coach Harvey Arms said he knows the much improved Billies now have a target on their backs and that no remaining team will just lay down.
Man will get each of the last four team’s best shots.
“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.”
The Billies held on to beat Chapmanville last week as freshman Tyler Grimmett intercepted Tiger QB Alex Berry at the 10-yard line and Man was able to run out the clock.
Man played well on both sides of the ball.
The Billies ran with the ball 40 times for 175 yards and Keffer was 8-for-14 passing for 130 yards and two TDs — both to Jones. Man outgained Chapmanville 305-245 in total offense. Most of Chapmanville’s damage came in the air as the Billies held the Tigers to just 30 net yards rushing on 27 carries.
Man’s 264-pound fullback Neil Mullins led the Billies’ rushing attack as he smashed through the line 13 times for 65 yards. Keffer had five rushes for 39 yards and two TDs. Mikle Scott Rowe added nine attempts for 34 yards. Braden Griffin had six carries for 26 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. Tanner Bailey and Rowe each had a QB sack for the Billies.
Jones also had an interception on defense.
While Man is riding a five-game winning streak and seemingly headed for its first Class A playoff berth since 2009, Sherman is going backwards.
Going into Friday night’s 7:30 p.m. game at Sherman, the Tide are on a three-game losing skid, also with losses to Liberty Raleigh (28-13) and Independence (22-14).
The Tide, coached by J.D. Fairchild, opened with a 20-6 loss at Tug Valley, then won 23-15 at home over Calhoun County on Sept. 6. Sherman then lost 46-6 at Class AA Wyoming East and won 56-12 on Sept. 20 at home over a weak Class A team in Hannan.
In the loss to Independence a couple of weeks ago, the Patriots scored 16 unanswered points in the second half to beat the Tide in overtime.
Sherman scored in the game on a 5-yard TD run by Aaron Lowe and a 16-yard TD grab by Braden Harrah from QB Bailey Kirk. The Tide were hampered in the game by four interceptions and a lost fumble, thwarting red zone drives on two occasions.
Kirk completed 9-of-20 passes for 73 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. Nate Dickens had five carries for 34 yards, while Jordan Thompson had four attempts for 24 yards and Lowe had seven carries for seven yards and a touchdown. Harrah snared four catches for 35 yards and a score. Tyler Stewart had three catches for 24 yards. Adam Miller had two catches for 14 yards.
Logan Buzzard led the Tide defense against Independence with 13 total tackles. Harrah, a two-way player, had 10 stops. Josh Buffington, Kris Sartaonio and Brandon Richards each had a sack.
Sherman’s running game had problems earlier in the season against Liberty Raleigh as the Tide were held to 20 yards. The Billies, which were stout against Chapmanville’s run last week, hope to stuff the Tide on Friday night.