MAN — No one can ever accuse the Man High School football team for watering down its schedule.
Even in Man’s last go-round as a Class A school, a journey which took the Hillbillies to the 2009 Class A state championship game, Man retained many of its Class AA rivalries.
And for a stretch, when traditional rival Logan High School was a Class AAA school, then Class A Man kept playing the Wildcats.
The upcoming 2020 football season and 2020-21 school year will see Man once again in the Class A ranks as the WVSSAC’s new reclassification begins in earnest.
It’s a welcome change for the Billies, which have played the last four years as a Class AA school.
In the WVSSAC’s last realignment, many were shocked to see Man move up from Class A to AA status. Man was the only school in the entire state of West Virginia to move up in class and that effectively made Man High School the smallest Double-A team in the state.
Many thought Man got the short end of the stick.
Fast-forward to 2020, however, and Man will once again be a Single-A school.
And with it, Man will once again be retaining some of its Class AA rivalries, including county foes Chapmanville and Logan and also Westside, a team the Billies have played every year since the formation of that school in the early 2000s.
Man’s 2020 football schedule is very difficult and the Hillbillies will be playing one of the most challenging slates for a Class A school in the entire state.
Class AA teams Mingo Central and Independence are being added to the schedule to give the Hillbillies a full 10 games for next season. Man also picked up Class A Buffalo and three-time reigning Class A champion Wheeling Central.
“As always for us, we have to play teams that will plays us,” Man coach Harvey Arms said. “It’s going to be a tough schedule. We’re dropping down to Single-A but we are still going to have six Double-A teams on our schedule. We are used to playing a tough schedule. We just have to keep working so we can compete.”
The Wheeling Central game will be one the highlights for the Billies this fall. The Maroon Knights are a private powerhouse Catholic school and have a long-standing athletic tradition. Man played Wheeling Central twice in the early 1990s going 0-2. The Billies lost 19-16 in 1991 to the Maroon Knights on the road at Wheeling Island Stadium. Then in 1992 at home Wheeling Central won 37-27 at Man.
“We played Wheeling Central in a two-game series in the 1990s when they were Double-A and when coach (Tootie) Carter was the coach,” Arms said after the game.
Man is 6-1 all-time against Independence but the two schools have not played each other since 1988 as Man won 38-6 at home. The first meeting was in 1976 and Man’s only loss in the series was a 12-0 setback at Beckley’s Van Meter Stadium in a neutral site game.
Man and Mingo Central have only played twice in their brief history. The Billies split with the Miners, winning 22-8 in 2011 at home and then losing 30-14 atop Miner Mountain in 2012 at Buck Harless Stadium in Newtown.
The Billies are 2-1 against Buffalo all-time, winning 14-6 in 2008, taking a 26-8 win in 2010 and then falling 15-6 in 2011 at Bison Field.
The four new additions to the schedule replace Class AAA Greenbrier East and Class AA teams River View, Lincoln County and Wyoming East.
Staying on Man’s schedule is a date with Class AA state powerhouse Point Pleasant. Last year, Man started off the season 7-0 and went to Point Pleasant where the Big Blacks upset the Billies 7-0, spoiling the Billies’ bid for an undefeated regular season.
Man also keeps Class A teams Tug Valley and Mount View on its schedule.
In Man’s last stint as a Single School in the 2000s and early 2010s, the Billies played many Double-A schools. And with the current WSSAC Computer Rankings system that worked out for Man. Arms said he hopes this will also be the case for Man this fall.
“It’s a good schedule for points if we can win ballgames,” he said. “If you can win that will give you a good boost for the playoffs because it is a good schedule for point opportunities.”
The Billies finished last season with an 8-3 record, falling 48-16 at Bluefield in a first-round Class AA playoff game. Man also lost at Tug Valley, 20-12, in a late season matchup at Naugatuck. The Billies, however, have an advantage with six scheduled home games and just four on the road this season. One of those road games is a short trip to Logan in the Aug. 28 season opener.
“Having six home games will be good for us this year but next year in 2021 it will flip and we’ll only have four,” Arms said. “We’re excited to get ready to play this schedule. We think that it will be a good experience for our kids.”
Man is scheduled to play four out of its first six games away from home. The home opener is Week 2 against Mount View on Sept. 4.
Later after a Oct. 9 open date, Man is slated to close out the grid campaign with four straight home games on the George A. Queen Memorial Field turf as Independence, Point Pleasant, Tug Valley and Chapmanville come to town.
Man won last year’s county championship outright with wins over Logan and Chapmanville. The Billies destroyed the Wildcats in the season opener at home, 62-8, then rolled over the Tigers, 33-8, in the finale at Chapmanville.
The Billies played well all season last year, rising as high as fifth in the state in the Class AA rankings.
Man’s defense was very stout and its deep ground game often wore down opposing team’s defenses.
LOGAN AND CHAPMANVILLE: The 2020 Logan and Chapmanville football schedules will remain the same as the Wildcats and Tigers will each take on Man in a non-conference game and both will also play Mingo Central in their other non-conference game.
Mingo Central was shockingly voted out of the Cardinal Conference by a 7-2 vote with Logan and Chapmanville both voting to keep the Miners in the league. That leaves Mingo Central as a Double-A independent for 2020.
Chapmanville and Logan will each play eight conference games in the 9-team Cardinal Conference next season with contests against Wayne, Scott, Nitro, Poca, Herbert Hoover, Winfield and Sissonville and also game against each other.
MINGO CENTRAL: Mingo Central’s 2020 schedule will be much different. The Miners will, however, play four games against ex-conference foes. In addition to Chapmanville and Logan, the Miners will also play Poca and Herbert Hoover next fall. Mingo Central hosts Logan on Sept. 11 and later hosts Chapmanville on Oct. 30 in its annual homecoming game.
The Miners are slated to open its 10th season on Aug. 29 at Belfry, Kentucky, in the much anticipated Pike County Bowl. Mingo Central and Belfry have never met on the football field.
Central also plays four other new opponents in Wyoming East, Greenbrier East, Shady Spring and Bluefield next season.