Members of the Logan High School football team wanted to give head coach Gary Mullins a proper sendoff.
And that was to beat Scott in Friday night’s regular season finale and put Mullins and the Wildcats into the Class AAA playoffs one more time.
Logan did it with a convincing 42-13 victory over Scott on Friday night at the Logan Football Stadium.
With a 7-3 record, the No. 15-ranked Wildcats will earn enough points to advance to the post-season for the first time in two years and for the fifth time in the 10-year tenure of Coach Mullins, who told the Logan Banner in an exclusive interview earlier in the week he would be stepping down as the Wildcats’ head coach at season’s end.
Logan, which had already secured its fourth straight winning season, will advance to next week’s Class AAA playoffs where the Wildcats will have to travel to play an away game.
Logan’s current opponent was not known until Saturday when the final high school games were played around the state. The official WVSSAC playoff brackets are expected to be released on Sunday afternoon.
Pending the outcome of Saturday’s Point Pleasant-Lewis County game, the Wildcats could climb as high as No. 13 and would, ironically, get a first-round playoff game at possible No. 4 seed Point Pleasant next Friday or Saturday. Logan played Point Pleasant at home this season on Sept. 20 and lost 37-21 in a mistake-prone contest.
Logan would then be in the bracket against either possible No. 5 Wheeling Park and No. 12 South Charleston in a hypothetical second-round contest.
The Wildcats are just happy to lock up another post-season berth. Last year, Logan had an identical 7-3 record but did not have enough points to qualify for the playoffs and closed out of the top 16 at the No. 17 spot.
A loss to Scott on Friday would have knocked the Wildcats out but Logan left no doubt on the field, scoring early and often and making several hard hits on defense on the freezing cold Senior Night.
Logan honored its senior class before the game, including: Tyler Vernatter; Daniel Hanks; Tyler Workman; Tyler Vance; Stephen Dilly; Brynden “Worm” Street; Clayton Marcum; Brett Musick; Josh Rein; William Browning; Kyle Runyon; Preston Hepler; Jacob Vance; Jody Butcher; Chance Ooten; Ty Yeager; Daniel Miller; and Daniel Faine.
Yeager, Logan’s starting center, was lost in the first half when he went down with a possible broken leg. He was wheeled out on a stretcher and into a waiting ambulance where he was transported to the hospital.
“I thought that we played extremely well,” Coach Mullins said. “We understood that Scott was a little bit short-handed. But I thought that we did a great job and our seniors did a tremendous job. We just whipped them and felt like we whipped them up front all night. Our prayers to Ty Yeager. We lost him in the second quarter. We’re just so proud of this senior group. They did a great job.”
While Yeager was being carted off, Logan players lined up and gave him a few encouraging words. Workman hugged him as he was the last Wildcat to greet him.
“Ty told them that they had worked too hard to not finish it,” Mullins said. “He told them to get this win. We hated to see that (the injury). He’s been a warrior for us and has been out here fighting for four years. He plays every play hard. That’s all that you can ask for. He’s a great senior leader.”
A.J. Grimmett replaced Yeager at center.
“Ty had already been banged up with a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder so we had been giving A.J. a lot of reps at center anyway because of Ty’s shoulder,” Mullins said. “We’re glad that we did.”
Street and Vernatter both had huge nights for Logan on the ground. Street, already over 1,100 yards on the season heading into the game, ran with the ball 27 times for 213 yards and scored two touchdowns on runs of 5 and 24. Vernatter also broke over 100 with 17 carries for 115 yards and two TDs on runs of 2 and 9.
Street had 164 yards rushing at the half as Logan led 23-0 while Vernatter had 72 more yards.
Logan’s defense held Scott’s patented running game with just three net yards in the first half.
For the game, Logan rolled up a whopping 509 yards rushing on 57 carries. QB Ryan Miller was 3-for-11 passing for 84 more yards and a touchdown as the Cats had 593 yards of total offense.
Rein finished with four catches for 84 yards, including a 26-yard TD grab.
Logan has showed resilience after a disappointing 26-20 loss at Mingo Central on Oct. 25. The Wildcats then took care of a weak Nitro team (40-14) and then put away Scott on Friday night to secure a trip to the playoffs.
“When we came back Monday after the Mingo Central game our guys could have packed it in and felt sorry for themselves. But it wasn’t that. They were more hurt that they played that way at Mingo Central,” Mullins said. “Ever since that day their mentality has been different. That’s what we need. Our O-line has been better and better as we have went on.”
With what transpired on Friday night it appears as if Logan will be avoiding the dreaded long seven-hour playoff trip to Martinsburg.
Logan entered the night tied for 15th in the state with Hampshire but Hampshire lost 31-24 to Class AA Frankfort and appear to have been knocked out of the playoffs.
“We’re happy to be back in the playoffs. We’re going to give it our best shot,” Mullins said.
Helped along with a 50-yard opening kickoff return by Rein, Logan marched in for a score on the first possession of the game with Street’s 5-yard run. Hanks booted the extra point to make it 7-0 Logan with 8:30 to go in the first quarter.
The Wildcats then got the ball back after Scott fumbled it away near the sideline on a punt return.
Then on the very next play, Street burst around the side for a 24-yard TD run. The PAT was blocked but Logan led 13-0 over the Skyhawks, which closed out the season 3-7 and lost for only the fourth time to the Cats in the last 11 meetings.
Logan looked to score again just before the end of the first quarter but Street fumbled the ball away at the Scott 1-yard line on an attempt to leap over the goal line.
The Skyhawks were then forced to punt and the Cats capitalized again with a 2-yard TD run by Vernatter at the 8:40 mark of the second period. After the Hanks kick it was 20-0 Logan.
Logan added one more score in the first half with 20.2 seconds left as Hanks kicked a 26-yard field goal, his first on the season. He was 3-for-6 in PATs and 1-for-4 in field goal attempts on the night. He misssed from 35, 29 and 50 yards out in the second half.
In the second half, Workman intercepted two Scott passes. The first led to a 26-yard Miller-to-Rein TD pass on a fourth down play to make it 36-0 with 1:58 to go in the third quarter.
The Skyhawks finally got on the scoreboard with 3:36 left in the game on Triston Crone’s 16-yard run to make it 36-7.
Logan came back with a 61-yard touchdown run by Hanks with 3:12 left to up the margin to 42-7.
Scott scored one more touchdown late with a 64-yard run by Cameron Loftus against Logan reserve players.
Daniel Miller, a 315-pound lineman, came into the game as a fullback late and rushed three times for 42 yards. Matt Cox had two rushes for 31 yards. Vance had three attempts for 21 yards.
Marcum had one rush for nine yards, while Rein and Ryan Miller each ran one time for seven yards. Daniel Browning had one carry for three yards.
Chris Browning led Logan on defense with nine tackles. Jacob “The Hammer” Browning had eight tackles. Vernatter, Marcum, Street and Workman had five stops each, while Dilly, Runyon and Hepler all had four tackles.
Cox and Gavin Ellis each had two tackles. Hanks, Noah Corbett, Vance, Ooten, Tres Duncan, Tim Saunders, Nate Smith and Jordan Oney all had one tackle each.
Workman had the two second-half picks for the Wildcats.
Street contributed two pass breakups as well. Marcum and Workman had one each. Marcum and Workman each caused a fumble. Marcum, Workman, Dilly and Chris Browning each had a fumble recovery as Scott turned the ball over six times.
Friday night’s game was the last home game for Coach Mullins, who is concluding his 10 years as head coach of the Wildcats.
Mullins has a 50-54 mark in his decade-long service to Logan and has put Wildcat football back on the map, leading the program to five out of school’s six all-time playoff appearances.
Mullins had many people to thank, including his wife Brandi, who has served as one of the team’s watergirls the last three seasons. He also thanked his two daughters, his dad Gary Mullins Sr. and his brother Timmy Mullins, who have served the team as assistants.
Mullins also praised his many players who have played for him the last 10 years, his coaches, staff, former coaches and the LHS administration who have been so supportive.
“Ten years is a long time,” Mullins said. “It has been an unbelievable place to coach. I love all of my players. I appreciate everyone in Logan County for giving me this opportunity to coach. It’s been a great 10 years.”
2013 Logan High School
Football Schedule (7-3):
Aug. 30: at Man, W 40-20
Sept. 6: at Shady Spring, W 39-0
Sept. 13: Lincoln County (Hall of Fame Game), W 51-14
Sept. 20: Point Pleasant, L 21-37
Sept. 27: at Chapmanville, W 27-14
Oct. 4: OPEN DATE
Oct. 11: at University, L 20-49
Oct. 18: Greenbrier East (Homecoming), W 48-29
Oct. 25: at Mingo Central, L 20-26
Nov. 1: Nitro, W 40-14
Nov. 8: Scott (Senior Night), W 42-13
Nov. 15-16: Class AAA Playoffs, TBA