LOGAN, W.Va. — This might be Logan’s last shot against Point Pleasant.
At least for a while.
With the Logan High School football team going to a full nine-game slate in Cardinal Conference play next season with the additions of Nitro, Winfield, Mingo Central, Wayne and Herbert Hoover, the Wildcats won’t be playing Point next year.
They probably won’t be playing the Big Blacks at all in the next five years either.
So Friday night, Logan hopes to make the most of it as the Wildcats travel to Point Pleasant to take on the Big Blacks in the battle of the unbeatens.
Logan is 3-0 and ranked No. 7 in the state in this week’s WV MetroNews Power Index. Point Pleasant is also 3-0 and ranked third in the state.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Point Pleasant’s Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field Stadium.
Logan hopes to make a game of it and possibly come home with a victory.
The last two times the Wildcats have played the Big Blacks it’s been a disaster for the Wildcats.
Two years ago, and the last time Logan traveled up Route 35 to Point Pleasant, the Big Blacks rolled out to a 63-8 halftime lead. The final two quarters were shortened on a running clock and that’s how the game ended.
Last year at Logan, things were not any better as the Big Blacks rocked the Cats to the tune of 57-7.
It’s redemption time for the Cats, which are off to a good start to the 2016 season and eager to prove they are legit.
“We’re really excited about this game on Friday night,” Logan coach Gary Mullins said. “This is one of the biggest games in the state as far as rankings go. They’ve really embarrassed us the last two years. We’re looking forward to going out there and redeeming ourselves and see if we really have gotten better.”
Logan has not been challenged much in its first three games.
That will change on Friday night.
The Big Blacks, which dropped down to Class AA with Logan from the Triple-A ranks, rolled over Lincoln County 44-6 in the opener, then won a 19-17 nail-biter at Ripley in Week 2. Last week in its home opener, Point Pleasant crushed Gallia Academy (Ohio), 61-12.
The Wildcats have wins over Man (48-13), Poca (61-11) and Lincoln County (40-13) last week.
Point Pleasant went up in classificiation in 2012 and had some success in Triple-A. In its last season in Class AA in 2011, Point topped Chapmanville 33-13 in the state semifinals, then lost 34-7 to Wayne in the 2A state championship game.
When you think about Point Pleasant football you think about offense and its stars of the recent past, including Cody Mitchell.
Last week against Gallia County, the Big Blacks rolled up 537 total yards in the first half, scoring on all eight of its possessions in the opening two quarters and holding a 54-6 lead.
By game’s end, the two teams played two 10-minute quarters in the second half — as the West Virginia state rule of a running fourth-quarter clock kicked in with the Big Blacks up 54-12.
Point Pleasant has now won 17 straight regular season home games.
The Big Blacks ended up with 637 yards of total offense last week. Ten different Point players carried the ball and QB Cason Payne completed passes to six different receivers — four going for touchdowns.
Payne rushed for 108 yards on only three attempts, and completed 7-of-11 passes for 223 yards.
Grant Safford also rushed for 108 yards on just seven tries, scoring from 40 yards out on the game’s third play — making it 6-0 only a minute and nine seconds in.
Point Pleasant also has Seth Stewart, a 6-8, 326-pound lineman, who has verbally committed to play at LSU.
“They have a really good team,” Mullins said of the Big Blacks. “Their tackle has verbally committed to LSU. They have Safford back at fullback and he’s a great player. Their quarterback, Payne, is a tremendous player and he can run and throw it. He’s a dual threat quarterback and he’s as good as anybody. He’s been a big key to them early in the season. Their wide receivers are good and they threw for three or four touchdowns last week. They are a tremendous offensive and defensive team. They get in your face and they play tough. You have to play your ‘A’ game when you play them.”
Point Pleasant coach Dave Darst said his team is playing well.
“I was really pleased with our performance tonight. We worked really hard this week and made a couple of corrections that we needed to make with our blocking up front. I’m really proud of them. We saw a similar look (defensively) that we saw last week against Ripley, and tonight we attacked it the way we want them to attack it,” Darst told the Point Pleasant Register. “I thought our offensive linemen tonight made the biggest growth.”
Darst said his team has gotten deeper as the season has progressed.
“The key to being successful is making sure you have enough depth,” he said. “We tried to take another step towards that tonight with all the kids we had play. Our goal is try and play 30 kids on a given Friday night, and I think we played 26 varsity-wise (tonight).”
Payne also had TD pass to Josh Wamsley from 33 yards out and to Smith for a 28-yarder during the game.
Logan’s defense will be put to the test on Friday.
“Up to this point our defense has been as good as any defense could be,” Mullins said. “We haven’t gave up many yards. But we definitely have our hands full. This is the kind of game that you should want to play when you are playing high school football. We better be ready to play.”
Last week against Lincoln County, Logan freshman quarterback David Early was 12 of 23 passing on the night for 244 yards. Early ended up firing three touchdowns on strikes of 73, 26 and 30 and added a 30-yard touchdown run. He was intercepted three times in the first half — one which went for a 95-yard score by the Panthers.
Michael Hall had two catches — both going for touchdowns and finished with 103 yards receiving. He also had four carries for 24 more yards. Jamal Minter had five grabs for 83 yards on the evening.
Logan also rushed 23 times for 185 yards and finished with 429 yards of total offense.
On defense, Shawntez Matthews and Daniel Browning led LHS with eight tackles apiece. Cody Maynard had seven stops.
On the season, Early is 37 of 61 passing (60.6 percent) for 727 yards with 12 touchdowns and three picks.
Braxton Goff leads Logan receivers with 11 catches for 245 yards — an average of 22.2 yards per grab — and five touchdowns. Minter has 11 catches for 211 yards and three scores. Hall has seven catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
On the ground, Hall leads the Cats with eight carries for 180 yards — an average of 22.5 yards a carry — and a touchdown. Early has 16 rushes for 138 yards and three scores. Twelve more Wildcats have at least one carry.
On defense, a trio of Logan linebackers lead the way.
Matthews has 26 tackles, an interception and one pass breakup.
Maynard has 21 tackles, two pass breakups and a caused fumble.
Daniel Browning has 21 tackles, three sacks, a punt block and a QB pressure.
— Look for more on the Logan-Point Pleasant game in Thursday’s Logan Banner sports section.
Football Friday night
WHAT: No. 7 Logan (3-0) at No. 3 Point Pleasant (3-0).
WHEN: Friday night, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field Stadium, Point Pleasant, W.Va.
SURFACE: Field Turf
LAST WEEK: Logan won 40-13 over Lincoln County, Point Pleasant won 61-12 over Gallia Academy, Ohio
LAST YEAR’S MEETING: Point Pleasant beat Logan 57-7
ALL-TIME SERIES: Logan leads 15-9-1
Logan vs. Point Pleasant
Football Series Last 10 years
(Point Pleasanat leads 4-2)
2015: Point Pleasant 57, Logan 7
2014: Point Pleasant 63, Logan 8
2013: Point Pleasant 41, Logan 14 (3A playoffs)
2013: Point Pleasant 37, Logan 21
2007: Logan 28, Point Pleasant 7
2006: Logan 27, Point Pleasant 14
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).