When Logan High School was a member of the Cardinal Conference last decade the Wildcats had a lot of success.
Now that realignment is complete and Logan is heading back to the Class AA ranks starting next school year, LHS is reportedly open to rejoining the conference.
Logan will be dropping from Class AAA to AA starting with the 2016-17 school year and will be staying in the Double-A ranks through 2019-20 before the WVSSAC tackles realignment again in 2020.
This is Logan’s last year as a Triple-A member.
After this school year, Logan will be back in 2A for the first time since 2003-08 when it last competed in Double-A and the Cardinal Conference.
Logan is looking ahead to the future and is needing a new home.
The Cardinal Conference seems again like the perfect fit for the Wildcats just as it was before.
“I have talked with a couple of people from the Cardinal Conference. They have a meeting on December 10,” Logan Athletics Director Brian Atkinson said. “We’re interested in seeing what they have to offer and see if it will fit us. As this point I would be in favor (of Logan joining the conference) but I would have to see more information. I think it would work out for Logan High School, the community and it would be the right thing to do.”
Logan football coach Gary Mullins, who has led the Wildcats for 12 years, said he’s all for LHS regaining membership in the Cardinal.
“Every decision isn’t made from what I want,” Mullins said. “But if it’s up to me I want to be back in the Cardinal Conference. It helps the scheduling and it helps your gate. When we used to be in the Cardinal Conference we always had good gates and good crowds on Friday nights and you don’t have to travel all over the state to play. There’s nothing but positives as far as I am concerned. I would definitely like us to be back in the Cardinal Conference if they would have us and if they would want us back in there.”
The Cardinal Conference, a 2A-only league, currently has eight members: Chapmanville, Scott, Wayne, Tolsia, Mingo Central, Poca, Sissonville and Herbert Hoover.
Tolsia, however, is dropping to Single-A and will, presumably, have to leave the conference next year.
Early projections had Herbert Hoover possibily going back up to Triple-A. The Huskies, however, are staying put in 2A.
Tolsia’s exit to stage left will leave the Cardinal with only seven teams.
That means the league will probably have to expand by at least one team or maybe more.
There could be a golden opportunity to expand by many.
Point Pleasant and Winfield, along with Logan, are also former members of the Cardinal Conference and would be perfect fits. Both Point and Winfield will be dropping to Class AA next year as well.
Lincoln County, which is also falling to Double-A after realignment, is another possible fit to Cardinal Conference expansion.
Other schools, both in the southern Coalfields and the Kanawha Valley, are also possibilities.
Man High School, Logan’s rival, will be moving up from Class A to 2A next year and would also be a good geographic fit to the Cardinal Conference.
Nitro, a Putnam County rival with the Poca Dots, would also work, although it is not known at this point if Nitro would be interested in joining the league. Nitro High School is also falling from the Triple-A ranks to 2A next season.
One possible plan has the Cardinal Conference adding five more schools and expanding to 12 members. If that happens, the league could split into two divisions: a North Division made up of the Kanawha Valley schools and a South Division comprised of the southern Coalfield teams.
“They may look to go to 12 and they can go to two six-team divisions,” Atkinson said. “I can’t speak for them, however, because I don’t know enough about them. The talks on this are very, very early. You could even find a way to play a conference championship game in basketball and baseball just like the MSAC (Mountain State Athletic Conference) does.”
Atkinson said the Cardinal Conference has a chance to grow and be even better.
“We could actually build up this Cardinal Conference with what we’ve got to exceed the MSAC,” he said. “The MSAC just got ripped. Lincoln County would also be a good fit and that would help them. With Ripley and Princeton leaving the MSAC last year that created a huge vaccum and now with it being even more so with Winfield being out because of them going to Double-A they will now be out of the MSAC next year. It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens. I’d say the MSAC is probably scrambling right now and I think the Cardinal Conference can be in the driver’s seat.”
Atkinson said the Cardinal is not only a top-notch athletic conference but also a league which makes geographic sense.
“It makes a lot of sense,” Atkinson said. “You have Mingo Central, Scott, Chapmanville, Wayne, Poca, Sissonville and Herbert Hoover. We’re all talking an hour and 20 minutes drive tops. From a financial aspect that saves significant cost and from a competitive aspect and from a fan base it will also create a lot of rivalries and that’s what West Virginia high school sports is all about.”
The last part of the SSAC’s realignment process will be the sorting out of the sectionals for basketball, baseball and softball.
That will be done in January reportedly.
Since all three Logan County schools — Man, Chapmanville and Logan — will all be competing in Class AA, it’s not clear where each team will go.
One idea would have Man being placed in a Class AA sectional with Wyoming East and Westside.
Logan could take Tolsia’s spot in the 2A sectional which features Chapmanville, Scott, Mingo Central and Wayne. Logan used to play in a Double-A sectional with Wayne and Tolsia in the 2000s.
It’s all speculation at this point.
“What is going to be interesting is in January when we see what the sectionals will look like,” Atkinson said. “Winfield called me yesterday and they are interested. They are Double-A and they were very shocked. Lincoln County called me last night and they are happy about being Double-A. Just like Gary said I think this will help level up the playing field.”
Man’s Harvey Arms, who is the Hillbillies’ boys’ basketball and football coach, said he’s not sure how the sectional realignments will fall.
“The last time we were Double-A, we played on that side of the state with Wyoming East and Westside along with Mount View in our sectional,” he said. “So who knows?”
Arms said he isn’t sure if being in the Cardinal Conference would work out as well for Man High School.
“I really don’t know how well that will fit for us because we’ve had relationships with Wyoming East, River View, Westside and Mount View and schools before them before consolidation,” he said. “We’ve got teams that it would be hard for us to give up playing. We’ve played them for 30 years or better with some of them. That’s what would make it tough for us. The travel would be a little bit more for us if we were in the Cardinal Conference. We’ll just have to wait and see and do what we can do to make it work.”
(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).