A lot can happen in 10 years.
Just look at all that Gary Mullins has done.
In a decade as the head coach of the Logan High School football team Mullins has transformed the Wildcat program, taking it out of the shadows of the school’s other prominent athletic teams and elevating Logan to another level that has been unseen.
In the 10 years, the Logan football team just does not hope to make it to the playoffs.
They expect it.
And demand it.
That’s the change of culture that has happened with the Logan football program in 10 years under Coach Mullins.
Mullins has transformed Logan football from the ground up, from the weight room to the gridiron and into the minds of the players.
No longer are the Wildcats going to just play out the schedule, hope for the best and wait until basketball season.
Logan became a player on the state football stage under Mullins.
But change is coming.
Mullins told the Logan Banner on Monday he is stepping down as the team’s head coach at season’s end. He cited family reasons for his decision and said he wants to spend more time with his wife and two daughters.
Mullins, a 1997 Logan High School graduate and former quarterback of the Wildcats, has been with the program in some capacity for many years.
He was a former LHS assistant coach under ex-head coach George Barker in the early 2000s. Then, when Barker resigned after the 2003 season and went to coach at his alma mater Chapmanville, Mullins was hired to lead the Cats. At only 24, he was one of the youngest coaches in the state.
Ten years later, Mullins said he’s stepping down.
What a ride it has been.
The Wildcats have tasted success under Mullins as Logan has advanced to four out of the school’s five all-time playoff berths under the Logan graduate. Logan has also won the county championship a number of times, including the last two years.
Mullins and the Wildcats can make it to a fifth post-season berth with a win over Scott on Friday night at home. Logan is in the midst of a playoff chase with a 6-3 record and in need of a victory over the Skyhawks this week in order to finish in the top 16 in Class AAA.
Logan has a 49-54 record in 10 years under Mullins, including an 0-4 mark in the playoffs. Those figures are somewhat misleading, however.
The Wildcats have enjoyed four straight winning seasons, a 27-14 record and two playoff berths since 2010. Logan was 3-7, 5-6 and 4-6 and in rebuilding mode from 2004-06 upon Mullins’ arrival.
Mullins said he secretly told his players at the beginning of the season that this would be his last. Word has filtered out some and rumors have swirled but Mullins said it’s official and the time is right to put down the headsets.
“This will definitely be my last year as the head coach,” Mullins told the Logan Banner. “The players have known since the first day of practice. I told them but I also told them to keep their mouth’s shut about it and let us make this season about them and not about it being my last year. I’m so proud of what we have been able to do here, though.”
As many know a football coach endures a lot of stress and puts in very long hours. Mullins is also one of the football team’s ground keepers and he can often be found in the summer months mowing or seeding the grass at Logan Stadium. He also puts in long work days and nights watching opponents’ game films and scouting when time persists.
It’s not just about X’s and O’s and putting on the headsets on Friday nights and showing up for practice.
It’s a grind — a very time consuming grind — to make it short.
“More than anything I just want to have more time with my daughters and to be able to be there for them first,” Mullins said. “I have an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old and they have been coming behind someone else’s kids. I just want them to be first.”
Mullins said his ultimate goal has been to get the school’s first ever playoff win.
After a loss to Weir in the 2005 playoffs when Logan was then a Class AA school, the Wildcats came close in 2007 but lost 55-40 to Berkeley Springs at Martinsburg.
Logan then lost at George Washington in 2010 and at home to Parkersburg South in 2011 when the Cats returned to the Triple-A ranks. The latter was the first time Logan had hosted a football playoff game since 1990, the Wildcats’ only other playoff appearance to date.
“Getting that one playoff win has been the big thing that has eluded us up until this point,” Mullins said.
Mullins said he still loves football and is still very young, just in his 30s, so he might not be putting away the clipboard and the whistle forever. He loves college football, too, and the Iowa Hawkeyes are his favorite team.
“I’m not saying that I’m done with coaching forever, even maybe with helping with the next coach that might need help,” Mullins said. “I just want to spend some time with my family. I don’t want them to be 18-years-old and then someday I will look back on it and see that I haven’t spent as much time with them as I should have. Right now, there’s a lot of people that I would like to thank who have helped me over the years.”
When Mullins was hired as Logan’s head coach he totally transformed the Wildcats’ scheme, going to a more pass-oriented offense with QB Justin Taylor at the helm. Taylor attempted up to 50 passes a game in his career, something unheard of in the history of Logan football.
Taylor’s heir apparent ended up being David Brown, who took over under center for Logan in 2007 and led the Wildcats into the playoffs.
Brown continued to be Logan’s primary starter at quarterback until 2010 when LHS advanced to its first Class AAA playoff game in 20 years with a 42-8 setback at George Washington.
Mullins and the Cats ran the four-wide spread offense in 2010. The pass-happy Brown’s favorite target that year was Deyonta Coleman, a basketball player who went out for the football team first the first time as a senior and ended up with 1,200 receiving yards and several TDs.
Logan has used a more balanced attack since with quarterbacks Chris Marcum and Khaleel Reynolds and this year with a trio of QBs in junior Ryan Miller, freshman Noah Corbett and senior Josh Rein.
The Street brothers — Joe and Brynden — have also been key to Logan’s success in recent years. The two running backs have helped the Wildcats’ ground game as Joe led Logan to the 3A playoffs in 2010 and 2011 and Brynden hoping to do so this year. Brynden Street has more than 1,100 rushing yards heading into Friday night’s regular season finale with Scott.
But it’s not just the skilled position guys.
Logan has also been blessed with many good linemen, linebackers, DBs, safeties and even a few good kickers in the 10-year span.
One of the best corners was Cornelius Godfrey, an LHS state champion wrestler, who played with the Wildcat football team in the 2000s. He passed away in a tragic motorcycle accident in the Columbus, Ohio, area just a few months ago.
“It’s all about the players,” Mullins said, when asked to look back at the last decade. “I’ve been blessed to have some great players that have put in some tremendous time in the weight room and have practiced hard every day. We feel that our guys are quality individuals. When we look at the players who have graduated and moved on most of them are doing the right thing and are supporting their families and have jobs and are productive members of society. That’s what we are put here to do. We’ve worked hard to make this a family atmosphere and the wins and losses took care of themselves.”
Logan’s football program has always been at a disadvantage as being one of the smallest Class AAA schools enrollment-wise in the state.
Football is a numbers game and a depth game — more than any other sport — and that is often times felt in West Virginia’s highest classification. Logan was a member of the 2A ranks from 2003-08 but have been back in 3A ever since.
“We don’t ever make any kind of excuses but the biggest thing for us is backups,” Mullins said. “And that really hurts us. We can take Worm, Josh Rein and some of our linemen and we will compare them to anybody in the state anywhere. But the problem is that we don’t have the backups to come in. We found that out against Parkersburg South a few years ago. When both of our Street boys got hurt it really made it tough on us. It seemed like they had 25 or 30 guys coming in and out and most of their guys only played one way. That’s the tough part about. I think that our guys can compete it’s just they get worn down in the grind of a season.”
Mullins said he hopes a lot of fans turn out on Friday night at Logan Stadium for the Scott game. Attendance took a dip last week despite mild temperatures following Logan’s loss at Mingo Central on Oct. 25.
“We need as much fan support as we can get,” Mullins said. “I feel like this senior group has really earned the right for as many people to come out and watch them as possible. This is the winningest senior group in a four-year stretch since I was at Logan in 1996. They’ve got a chance to go to the playoffs for a third time. We need a big crowd. We appreciate the crowd that was with us last Friday night but that crowd was not big enough. We need a big crowd so we can send these guys off like they deserve to be sent off. We’ve love for the fans to be there and to support us because we will definitely need it against a very tough Scott High School football team.”
As for Mullins’ replacement, Logan could either go “in house” or hire someone from somewhere else.
Either way, Mullins’ shoes will be tough to fill.
“Logan football will definitely go on and will be great in the future,” he said.
The Gary Mullins Era:
Year-by-year record at Logan
2011: 8-3 (Lost 51-8 to Parkersburg South in 3A playoffs)
2010: 6-5 (Lost 42-8 to George Washington in 3A playoffs)
2007: 6-5 (Lost 55-40 to Berkeley Springs in 2A playoffs)
2005: 5-6 (Lost 66-0 to Weir in 2A playoffs)
TOTAL: 49-54 (10 years), 0-4 in playoffs