The Logan High School football team hopes to erase last year’s bad memories.
After falling 32-26 in overtime to rival Man in the opener, the Wildcats then beat Shady Spring and Lincoln County to go to 2-1.
Logan then lost its last seven games to close out with a 2-8 record.
The Cats carry the seven-game skid into Friday night’s regular season opener at arch rival Man and hope to end it there with a win over the Hillbillies.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field. It will be the first game on Man’s new Field Turf. All three county schools received turf this summer. Logan won’t play on its new turf until Week 4 of the season.
Logan coach Gary Mullins, entering his 12th season at the helm, is 7-4 against Man in the last 11 years.
Before last year’s overtime loss to Man the Wildcats had beaten the Hillbillies four straight years, including a 40-20 victory over Man in 2013. Prior to last fall, the Billies last beat rival Logan in 2009 by a 34-7 score en route to the Super Six in Wheeling.
Coach Mullins and the Wildcats know it won’t be easy against Man.
It never is.
Man is led by senior quarterback and four-year starter John Thomas Keffer. Jace Duba and Jake Frye lead Man’s talented crop of running backs. Christian McCoy leads the Man defense from his defensive line post. Ross Osborne is Man’s top returning wide receiver.
“Man is a very senior-laden team,” Coach Mullins said. “They have a lot of guys who have played a lot of games. Keffer is starting his fourth year and he’s just a great quarterback. We’re just going to have to play a very good football game. We can’t turn the ball over and give them extra possessions. All in all, we think our chances are good and we’re real excited to get out there.”
Man will likely try to establish the ground game against the Cats.
“They want to establish the run all the time,” Mullins said. “They’ve been a little bit different since they’ve had Keffer because he has the ability to throw it. They also have a great wideout with Ross Osborne and they also have Matt Sanders. Osborne is a very good wide receiver. We have to play well and we know that we’re going to have to play a great game. It’s an exciting time of the year. You can’t beat it. We’re looking forward to it.”
Logan is led on offense by Devonta Tolliver and Matt Cox.
Tolliver is Logan’s leading returning rusher as he ran for 678 yards last season on 114 carries and six touchdowns. Cox had 46 carries for 238 yards and a TD last year. Cox was also deployed as a wide receiver last year and finished with 25 catches for 442 yards and five more TDs.
Logan has a trio of QB’s in Daniel Browning, newcomer Alex Toler and Brian Farley. No starter has yet been named.
“They’ve been good and bad,” Mullins said of his quarterbacks. “They’ve had some growing pains. They have also done some things well and we feel like they are getting better every week. We’ll name a starter when we go out there to play on Friday night. That’s what it will come down to.”
The Wildcats had two preseason scrimmages. Two weeks ago, Logan traveled to Magoffin County High School in Salyersville, Ky., and battled against Paintsville (Ky.) and Tug Valley, a pair of playoff teams from 2014. Last Friday night, Logan had a preseason game at 2A powerhouse Wayne, a playoff staple.
“We played three really good teams and teams that will be very successful,” Mullins said. “Paintsville won their first game last week 46-12. We feel like we scrimmaged against good teams. Wayne is good every year. We had some turnovers but we felt like we were able to move the ball up and down the field on them and we were able to score a few times. Last year, we couldn’t hardly get a first down against them.”
Mullins said Logan is better prepared heading into this season as it was last year. With many returning starters back, especially in the trenches, that makes sense.
“We think that we are further along now than we were last year at this time,” Mullins said.
Mullins said his team is virtually injury-free going into the game.
“We’re set heading into Friday night,” he said. “We’re hoping that everyone can stay healthy this week in practice.”
Football Friday Night
WHAT: Logan (0-0) at Class A No. 9 Man (0-0)
WHEN: Friday night, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: George A. Queen Memorial Field, Man
SURFACE: Field Turf
LAST YEAR’S GAME: Man won 32-26 over Logan in overtime on Mikle Scott Rowe’s OT touchdown run.
LAST YEAR: Man was 6-5 and lost to Tug Valley in the first round of the Class A playoffs. Logan was 2-8
RADIO: WVOW 101.9 FM, Logan
INTERNET STREAM: www.loganwildcats.tv, www.manhillbillies.tv
Logan vs. Man Football Series
Since 2000 (Logan leads 11-4):
2014: Man 32, Logan 26 (OT)
2013: Logan 40, Man 20
2012: Logan 33, Man 0
2011: Logan 30, Man 7
2010: Logan 55, Man 18
2009: Man 34, Logan 7
2008: Logan 14, Man 12
2007: Logan 33, Man 14
2006: Man 18, Logan 13
2005: Logan 12, Man 10
2004: Man 22, Logan 18
2003: Logan 18, Man 0
2002: Logan 27, Man 6
2001: Logan 19, Man 0
2000: Logan 49, Man 9
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1730, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).