By: Paul AdkinsSports Editor
October 23, 2012
The Logan High School football team is at the cusp of something great.
What’s that, you ask?
Three straight trips to the Class AAA playoffs, that’s what.
It won’t be easy, however.
Logan (6-2), projected to move up four spots to 14th from 18th in this week’s Class AAA Computer Ratings, must sweep or at least split in its final two regular season games against Hurricane and Scott.
The quest for the post-season resumes on Friday night as Logan heads to play at Hurricane (5-3). The Redskins are expected to be ranked No. 11 in the state this week in Triple-A.
Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Hurricane High School football field.
Logan defeated the Redskins 27-23 last season at home at a muddy and rainy Logan Stadium.
Field conditions won’t be a problem this time around as Hurricane has Field Turf.
The Wildcats are coming off last week’s 28-16 home victory over Class AA No. 13 Mingo Central. Logan was able to bounce back from a 37-18 loss at home a couple of weeks ago to 3A No. 3 Huntington.
Hurricane hopes to get back in the win column this week.
The Redskins were vanquished by Spring Valley, 55-27, last Friday night at home.
Hurricane opened the season with a 44-7 win at home over Winfield. Logan also played Winfield this season and won 38-28 on the road. The Redskins then won 51-21 at Nitro and lost a pair of games at Beckley (35-34) and at George Washington (41-15). Hurricane responded with wins at home over Capital (23-20) and Ripley (21-0) and a road victory on Oct. 12 at Greenbrier East (44-20).
With playoff positioning at stake the Wildcats hope to get a win over Hurricane to move themselves that much closer to the post-season.
Logan coach Gary Mullins has already led the Wildcats to Class AA playoff appearances in 2005 and 2007 and 3A berths in 2010 and 2011.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good situation,” Mullins said. “We’ve got two games left in the regular season and we’re going to have to finish strong if we want to be a playoff team. We’ve got two tough opponents who are also fighting to get in and fighting for their positions. We’re going to have to play our best to get in.”
Hurricane is hoping to bounce back from last week’s disaster against Spring Valley. The Redskin defense allowed Spring Valley running back Elijah Wellman to rush for 237 yards on 23 carries last Friday night. The Timberwolves, with a massive offensive line, dominated the game in the trenches. Spring Valley tailback Ryan George also broke over the 200-yard rushing plateau against Hurricane as he rolled up 17 carries for 200 yards.
The Redskins, like the Wildcats would love to close out the season with two wins and push for a home playoff game. The top 16 teams in each class qualify for the playoffs with the top eight getting home field advantage.
“We have to win at least one of our remaining games to even get in the playoffs. But we can’t be satisfied with that. We really need to get two more wins to make any noise,” Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor told the Charleston Gazette. “They (Spring Valley) just physically whipped us. We did everything we could defensively but in the end, their big horses on that line just whipped us. They are just so big.”
Spring Valley led 21-0 at the half before Hurricane was able to save a little face with Zach Pate’s 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown which closed the gap to 42-21 after three. The momentum was short-lived, however, as Spring Valley continued to pound the ball, led by Wellman and George, who each added another TD in the fourth quarter.
Hurricane quarterbaack Austin Hensley completed 14-for-22 passes for 143 yards. Pate was held only only 30 yards on five carries.
“They are very skilled,” Mullins said of the Redskins. “They will be the most skilled team that we’ve played up to this point. They throw it well and they have skilled athletes going at you everywhere. You have to make sure that you play assignment football. If you blow a coverage their quarterback will make you pay in a hurry. We’re going to have to play better pass defense than we’ve played if we are going to be able to confuse him or make him see things that he hasn’t seen up until this point.”
After playing Hurricane, Logan will close out on Nov. 2 at Class AA Scott (7-1).
Mullins said the Wildcats will need at least a split and a 7-3 record to have enough points to make it to the playoffs.
“There’s no doubt that we will have to get one out of the next two if we are going to be in the playoffs,” he said. “A 6-4 record will have you on the outside looking in. If we want to make it to the playoffs and accomplish that goal we’ll have to win at least one. We really want to be in the top half of it but we’ll have to win both in order for that to happen. There’s a lot at stake and that’s what we want. We want the last game or two to mean as much as the first. We’ve put ourselves in that situation for that to matter.”
Field conditions will be ideal in the final two games of the regular season regardless of the weather.
That’s because both Hurricane and Scott have Field Turf.
That means no mud and no chance of slowing down Logan’s speed on the outside.
That’s good news for the Wildcats.
“Both of them have turf,” Mullins said. “They have great facilities and we’re looking forward to playing on them.”
Logan secured last week’s win at home over Mingo Central when up blocker and quarterback Chris Marcum connected with his younger brother Clayton Marcum on a 45-yard fake punt scoring strike in the fourth quarter. A close 21-16 score turned into a 28-16 lead and that’s the way the game stayed.
Marcum was 5-for-16 passing for 156 yards and two touchdowns.
Logan rushed 26 times for 231 yards. Brant Williams led the way with five rushes for 71 yards and a score. Marcum had 10 carries for 68 yards and a score. Brynden “Worm” Street added 59 more yards on six attempts, while Khaleel Reynolds had five totes for 33 yards and an additional 12 yards of passing in spot quarterbacking duties.
The Cats outgained Mingo Central 399-260 in total yards.
Street led Logan’s defense with eight tackles. Thomas Hunter, Chris Marcum and Tyler Vernatter had six stops each.
Brian Craft had another good night on special teams for Logan. In addition to going 4-for-4 in his extra point kicks, Craft also punted once for 52 yards and boomed a kickoff into the end zone for a touchback. Two weeks ago, he punted for 56 yards against Huntington. On the season, Craft is averaging a college-like 46.5 yards a punt this season.
“He’s been punting tremendously the whole season. He’s had a good year punting, no doubt,” Coach Mullins said of Craft. “He’s averaging more than 46 yards a punt. He’s really been doing a great job in helping us pin teams back deep. On Friday night, we also finally got our point after team going. If we are going to be successful in the last two weeks our special teams will have to play a large part of that.”
Series since 2000:
2011: Logan 27, Hurricane 23
2010: Hurricane 55, Logan 0
2009: Hurricane 62, Logan 29
2002: Hurricane 21, Logan 14
2001: Hurricane 12, Logan 0