For the last several years Logan County’s three high school football teams had stability at quarterback with proven veteran signal-callers.
Man High School’s John Thomas Keffer started for four years for the Hillbillies, leading Man into the Class A playoffs the last three seasons with his gritty play.
Chapmanville Regional High School had strong-armed Alex Berry, a three-year starter and team leader. He led Chapmanville to a Class AA playoff berth a year ago after a three-year hiatus.
Two years ago, Logan High School had record-setting quarterback Ryan Miller. Then last season, first-year starter Alex Toler stepped into the starting role and did an admirable job.
But change is coming this fall for the Hillbillies, Tigers and Wildcats.
That’s because Keffer, Berry and Toler are gone.
All three have all been lost to graduation.
And that means all three will have to find new quarterbacks.
As practices began on Monday, three front-runners have emerged as replacements.
At Man, sophomore Zach Cook could be the man to take over for Keffer.
The All-State Keffer had a remarkable career for the Billies. Last year, he completed 113-of-191 passes (59.1 percent) for 1,730 yards with 27 touchdowns and six interceptions for the 8-3 Billies. Keffer was also a threat to run the ball as he carried the pigskin 87 times for 223 yards and scored nine touchdowns.
Cook, a former QB at Man Middle School, saw very limited action last year under center for Man. He didn’t have any pass attempts and ran with the ball twice for a net zero yards.
Berry, an Class AA All-Stater last year, also had a record-breaking year for the Tigers and led Chapmanville to a 7-4 season and home playoff game. Berry completed 165-of-251 (65.7 percent) passes for 2,345 yards with 31 touchdowns and eight picks. His top target, wideout Jacob Dingess, has also been lost to graduation.
Senior Adam Vance appears to have the nod for Chapmanville at QB this season.
Vance also saw limited action last year for the Tigers, completing 4-of-6 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown — a 65-yard swing pass to Dingess in Chapmanville’s 35-28 win at Man while Berry was shaken up on the previous play forcing him to the sidelines for a brief time.
The Tigers are led by new head coach Rob Dial, who takes over for longtime mentor George Barker, who stepped down after 12 seasons.
Toler also had a good season as well for Logan last year, completing 98-of-187 passes (52.4 percent) for 1,259 yards with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Toler also ran for 146 yards on 26 attempts.
Freshman David Early is projected to be Logan’s starter at quarterback.
The dual threat Early had a huge season last fall for Logan Middle School as he was 33-for-62 passing for 1,017 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven two-point conversion passes. He also ran with the pigskin 97 times for 1,280 yards with 23 TDs and 11 conversion runs.
The Wildcats were 4-6 last year, doubling up on the previous season’s win total.
Logan returns to the Class AA Cardinal Conference this fall after spending the last seven seasons as a Triple-A school.
Logan is scheduled to open the regular season on Thursday, Aug. 25 at home against county rival Man. The Hillbillies will also be competing as a Double-A school this season after more than a decade of Single-A ball.
Chapmanville opens the season Aug. 26 at Sissonville in a league matchup.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).