It was another big year for Logan County athletics in 2015.
There were a lot of changes and a lot of new era which were ushered in.
There were also some great seasons, several near misses and big individual performances turned out by Logan County athletes.
Before we raise our glasses and sing Auld Lang Syne to bring in the New Year of 2016, let’s look back at the 2015 year in Logan County sports with the top five local sports stories of the year.
1. Man High School cheerleaders win state championship. After finishing as the Class A state runner-ups in back-to-back years, the Man High School cheerleaders went over the top on Dec. 12 as MHS won the state championship at the Charleston Civic Center.
It was the first ever state title for Man in cheerleading.
The Man cheerleaders were the only county varsity athletic team to win a state title in 2015.
Man finished with 322.45 points, topping second-place Bishop Donahue by 15 points.
“It’s wonderful to win the state championship,” Man coach Tina Goodman said. “I’m extremely proud of how hard that they worked and all of the time that they put in. It’s paid off. We don’t quit because something doesn’t work the first time. We keep at it. They really worked hard this year and they deserve it. It was an honor to come in second the last two years but when you work as hard as you do it makes you work even harder to make yourselves better.”
2. Field turf comes to Logan County/home playoffs. A new era was ushered in for Logan County football as Logan, Man and Chapmanville high schools were all carpeted with Field Turf for the 2015 season.
The project to turf all three county football stadiums began in late July and was complete by late August in time for the high school season.
The job cost $2.5 million and was funded by the Logan County Commission and the Logan County Board of Education.
It’s believed the Field Turf will last at least 10 years and will allow for unlimited games to be played on perfect field conditions and also for the future additions of soccer at all three schools.
The Man Hillbillies and the Chapmanville Regional Tigers made the most out of their new turfed stadiums by hosting first-round playoff games.
Both teams lost however.
Chapmanville finished 7-4, falling 42-14 to Robert C. Byrd in a Class AA opening-round playoff game at Tiger Stadium.
Man closed out 8-3 with a 38-28 loss to Tug Valley in a Class A first-round game at Man’s George A. Queen Memorial Field.
The Tigers were led by senior QB Alex Berry and senior WR Jacob Dingess. Berry completed 165-of-251 passes for 2,345 yards and 31 TDs. Dingess had 73 catches for 1,157 yards and 15 TDs. Both broke several school records.
Tanner Dillon rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and was one of the state’s top kickers and punters this fall, making three field goals and 46-of-50 in his point after attempts.
Man was led by senior QB and four-year starter John Thomas Keffer, who threw for 1,730 yards and 27 TDs this year.
Logan finished 4-6 during the ‘15 football season in its first grid campaign on the new turf. The four wins doubled last year’s win total.
3. Chapmanville and Man baseball teams finish state runner-ups. Both the Chapmanville and Man high school baseball teams had big years in 2015 as the Tigers and Hillbillies were state runner-ups.
Both Chapmanville and Man, however, lost in the finals on the same day — the Tigers falling 5-0 to Bridgeport and the Hillbillies losing 7-0 to Wahama — at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park on June 6.
Battle-tested Man, the 2014 state champs, finished 19-15 on the season. Man won 5-1 over Moorefield to advance to the Class A state finals.
Chapmanville was 30-6, beating Oak Glen 8-5 in the 2A state tourney semifinals.
4. Shayna Gore and Stevie Browning on the move at Marshall. Former Logan High School basketball players Shayna Gore and Stevie Browning are making an impact in their first seasons at Marshall University.
Gore is lighting it up in her freshman season with the Marshall women’s basketball team.
Gore, last year’s Gatorade State Player of the Year and Logan’s all-time leading scorer, has helped the Herd get off to an 10-1 start to the season with the only loss being a 66-60 setback to West Virginia on Dec. 13 at the Charleston Civic Center.
Gore has led the team in scoring twice and is second on the squad in scoring at 15 points per game. She has made 48.4 percent of her shots from the floor and has canned a team-high 23 3-pointers. Gore also has sank 83 percent of her free throws and has a team-best 20 steals to go along with 42 rebounds and 26 assists.
Browning, a 6-3 junior guard and transfer from Fairmont State, is third on the team in scoring at 11.5 points a game. Browning has started all 13 games for the 4-9 Herd and has made 37.9 percent of his shots.
5. Coaching changes/sectional realignment. There were a lot of coaching changes and other news in Logan County athletics.
Mark Hatcher, who had led the Logan Wildcats’ basketball program the last 15 years and guided LHS to two state titles, resigned in 2015. He was replaced by his father Allan Hatcher, who came over from Chapmanville Regional.
Brad Napier, a Harts native and former Mark Hatcher assistant coach at Logan, then replaced Allan Hatcher at Chapmanville. Napier had been the head coach at Mingo Central.
There were a lot more news items as well.
When the WVSSAC’s sectional realignment was finally complete, Logan dropped down from Class AAA to 2A as expected. Single-A Man High School, in a bit of a surprise, was elevated to Double-A. The new alignment is slated to take shape in 2016 and last for four years.
Man was the only school in the state to raise in classification.
Logan was also accepted into the newly expanded Cardinal Conference. Logan last competed in the conference from 2003-08 when it was a 2A school.
Nitro and Winfield, which are also dropping down to 2A next year, were brought into the new Cardinal Conference as well.
Lincoln County and Point Pleasant, two more 3A schools that are dropping to Class AA next year, were turned down by the Cardinal Conference members for expansion, keeping the league at 10 teams for next season.
(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).