Wildcats-Tigers has been a cat fight
Paul Adkins Sports Editor
CHAPMANVILLE — Over the last 12 years the Logan-Chapmanville high school football series has produced some interesting twists and plot lines.
There’s been the teacher vs. pupil coaching matchup.
There was a former coaching matchup between two men who were leading their teams against their own alma maters.
There was even a visit from a Hollywood movie star.
But what the Tigers and the Wildcats have produced most has been good football, Chapmanville Regional High School coach George Barker said.
“It’s good football and that’s the thing that I like,” Barker said. “It’s good solid football on both sides of the ball. The team that wins has to play well. It’s not one of those games where you can show up and win. You have to play to win.”
Barker knows about good football. He has the distinction of coaching in the county rivalry on both sides of the field as he had formerly been the head coach at Logan.
After stepping down as head coach of the Wildcats after the 2003 season, Barker left for his alma mater Chapmanville the following year and began the rebuilding process there. Barker was replaced at Logan by former assistant coach Gary Mullins.
The “trade,” if you will, has worked on both sides. Mullins has led Logan to four Class AAA playoff appearances. Barker has guided the Tigers into the Class playoffs five times, including a Final Four berth two years ago.
In the first three years of the Logan-Chapmanville football game, the game pitted then Chapmanville coach Ronnie Ooten, a Logan High School graduate, against then Logan coach Barker, who graduated from Chapmanville.
This year’s clash is set for Friday night at 7:30 at Chapmanville’s Tiger Stadium. The game pits 3-1 Logan against 3-1 Chapmanville.
Logan leads the all-time series with Chapmanville 7-5. Logan went 4-1 in the first five meetings but the Tigers have held the edge lately, winning four out of the last six including four straight from 2007-10.
The Wildcats won 20-0 last year at Logan and took the 2012 meeting by a 22-21 score in Tiger Town in a memorable showdown.
The game two years ago was typical of the rivalry as it went down to the last minute with a late Logan touchdown. The Wildcats then elected to go for the win and the two-point conversion. Logan’s Joe Street jumped at the goal line and was hit in mid air. His second effort then put him in the end zone for the winner.
“There’s been a lot of close games and there’s been a lot of battles between the two teams,” Coach Mullins said. “It seems like the game always comes down to the last couple of possessions. There’s always a big crowd and there’s always a lot of excitement. It’s been a good rivalry all around.”
The Logan-Chapmanville football series began in 2001 and was played just a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks. There was a patriotic fervor across the nation and locally as many American flags were spotted across the Chapmanville Middle School parking lot the night of the game.
Logan won the first meeting 21-0 over the Cats.
The second game in 2002 produced the most bizarre moment.
It was Logan’s homecoming game and LHS was to have a special guest that day — Hollywood movie actor Leslie Nielsen — known for his comedic roles in the Naked Gun trilogy of movies and also Airplane! Nielsen was in town for the weekend as he was promoting bio fuels. He stayed in Logan all day on game day, rode through downtown Logan on a homecoming float and stuck around to be the special guest at the Chapmanville-Logan football game at Logan Stadium.
Nielsen shook Coach Barker’s hand before the game and went to midfield with the Wildcat and Tiger players and the referees to do the coin flip.
Barker said no one at the game called Nielsen “Shirley” but said the actor did have a funny quip during the coin flip.
“He flipped the coin and the team that won the toss said that they wanted to defer. So when the official turned to the other guy they said, ‘We want to defer.’ And that’s when Leslie said, ‘The fur is going to fly tonight,’” Barker said with a laugh. “He was also part of the homecoming parade.”
Logan ended up beating Chapmanville 27-8. Nielsen died in 2010 at the age of 84.
In coaching on both sides of the rivalry, Barker is 6-6 in Chapmanville-Logan games. Mullins has a 5-4 mark. Both coaches are entering their 10th seasons this fall.
Since the Logan-Chapmanville baseball series has been shelved and the Wildcats and Tigers are no longer playing each other in boys’ basketball and not scheduled to play again during the 2013-14 campaign, the football matchup is the only time the two schools will meet this year in a major sporting event.
“When I was at Logan we decided that the two schools needed to play,” Barker said of the football series. “We were getting closer in enrollment numbers so we started it. I think that it’s become bigger over time. To play each other is just a natural because we are so close apart and the two communities are intertwined. On our scoreboard it says ‘Logan Bank and Trust.’ It’s been a natural game. Luckily, we’ve been able to compete with them a couple of times. We’re just glad to be able to play it.”
Mullins said execution and red zone offense often determines who is going to win.
“Every game seems like it is going to go down to the end,” he said. “Whoever executes the best usually wins and whoever scores the most in the red zone usually wins. One of the years we lost we had about 10 or 12 opportunities inside the 10-yard line and couldn’t get in. Red zone offense and red zone defense I think plays a lot in who wins this game.”
The series also produced some memorable games.
In the 2003 game, which was also Chapmanville’s homecoming game, quarterback Jeremiah Butcher led the Tigers to a 20-14 upset over Barker’s Wildcats.
The 2006 game at Logan was also a close one. Down 14-7, Chapmanville QB Evan Brown raced down field for a possible game-tying 70-yard touchdown run. It was called back due to an illegal blocking penalty. The Cats got the ball back and chewed up the rest of the clock.
From 2007-10, Chapmanville dominated the series, winning all four meetings. In the 2010 game, Chapmanville won 35-20 at Logan. The Tigers were led that season by the dynamic backfield duo of Jake Robinson and Dustin Botsch, a former Logan player who was taking on his ex-Wildcat teammates for the first time.
The 2007 matchup was also a nail-biter with the Tigers winning 13-12.
The biggest blowout was a 42-6 victory by Logan at Chapmanville in 2005.
Barker, also Chapmanville’s Athletics Director, said he would like to see the series continue.
“I think so,” Barker said. “When we met last year I think they thought that we didn’t want to play and we thought they didn’t want to play but that isn’t the case. We both wanted to play, so we worked everything out. I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t play.”
It’s a big game for both teams tonight.
As both teams sit at 3-1 a victory would prove huge for the winner.
Logan is currently 18th in the state in Class AAA. Chapmanville is No. 10 and would like to get some Triple-A points in the current playoff system.
“With the second half of our schedule coming it’s definitely a game that we don’t want to lose,” Mullins said. “If we slip to 3-2 it’s going to make it a lot tougher in the second half of the season.”
Logan-Chapmanville Football Series
(Logan leads 7-5):
2012: Logan 20, Chapmanville 0
2011: Logan 22, Chapmanville 21
2010: Chapmanville 35, Logan 20
2009: Chapmanville 21, Logan 14
2008: Chapmanville 21, Logan 6
2007: Chapmanville 13, Logan 12
2006: Logan 14, Chapmanville 7
2005: Logan 42, Chapmanville 6
2004: Logan 29, Chapmanville 6
2003: Chapmanville 20, Logan 14
2002: Logan 27, Chapmanville 8
2001: Logan 21, Chapmanville 0
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