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Wildcats hit hard by graduation but still hope to have a good year

Last updated: August 24. 2014 12:24AM - 1716 Views
By - padkins@civitasmedia.com



The 2014 Logan High School football team.
The 2014 Logan High School football team.
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Don’t feel sorry for the Logan High School football team.


Despite the loss of 18 graduated senior players, including the entire offensive line, talk of the Wildcats’ demise this fall seems a bit premature.


Will Logan match last year’s 7-4 record and make it again to the Class AAA playoffs?


No one knows at this point.


But one thing is for certain.


Don’t count out the Wildcats.


Back for Logan is head coach Gary Mullins, 35, now in his 11th season at the helm. Mullins has led Logan to five of the schools six all-time playoff appearances, including last year when the Cats lost 41-14 on the road at Point Pleasant.


Mullins said he hopes Logan can continue its success this fall. The Wildcats are scheduled to open the season on Aug. 29 at home against county rival Man.


“We’ve had four straight winning seasons,” Mullins said. “We want to keep that going. As always, we want to be the county champions. That’s our number one goal. We kind of feel like the playoffs and a winning season goes hand-in-hand with being the county champions. Right now, we don’t talk about anything else but beating Man.”


Mullins said his team has plenty of good skilled position players.


“This is one of the most skilled teams that we’ve had,” he said. “That’s saying a lot because we’ve had some really skilled players. We are about 10 to 12 deep at wide receiver. Of course, we’re experienced at quarterback with Ryan Miller, who started there last year and played some the year before.”


Logan, however, must find protection for its quarterback with a brand new offensive line.


“What we need to work on is our line play,” Mullins said. “We graduated our top eight guys there. We have to fill those holes but I will say that we have the biggest number of our guys there. We have 25 or 30 guys to find spots at five positions. They are working hard but I have no doubt that when we get to the 29th we will be where we need to be.”


Logan certainly has a huge challenge this fall with many new faces stepping into new roles. Several talented players must be replaced, however.


Gone are 18 seniors, including such big names as Worm Street, Clayton Marcum, Tyler Vernatter, Tyler Workman and Josh Rein and a slew of linemen such as Preston Hepler, Jacob Vance, Jody Butcher, Chance Ooten and Ty Yeager.


All Street did was rush for 1,444 yards last season and score 14 touchdowns. He was also a starter in Logan’s secondary, recording 60 tackles, and was a key player in the special teams.


Rein was Logan’s top target with 603 receiving yards and seven TDs.


Vernatter was a dependable fullback as he rushed for 435 yards and scored eight TDs. At linebacker, he made 57 tackles.


Logan also lost sophomore quarterback Noah Corbett, who bolted across the Tug and transferred to Belfry, Ky.


The Wildcats, though, have plented of talent in their deep receiving corps, bolstered by some athletic newcomers from other LHS teams.


Logan has a proven quarterback, senior Ryan Miller (6-2, 195), to get them the ball. Last year, Miller shared QB duties as he was 39-for-81 passing for 751 yards with eight TDs and two interceptions.


This year, it’s Miller time at Logan.


“He’s got a big-time arm,” Mullins said of Miller. “He knows the offense and has been really strong and fluent back there. We’re going to need him to have a good season because there’s gonig to be a lot set on his shoulders. We’re only going to be as successful as he is. He’s got to have a big year for us and think that he’s ready to.”


Sophomore Brian Farley and freshman Matthew Brown are Logan’s backup quarterbacks. Brown is the younger brother to former Logan QB David Brown, who led the Wildcats to playoff appearances in 2007 and 2010.


“Matthew has a great lineage,” Mullins said. “David was a great quarterback for us and he’s done a good job for us. Farley is one of the most improved quarterbacks that I’ve seen. He’s spent a lot of time in the weight room. Last year, he could probably only throw the ball 20 to 25 yards which is not enough for high school. He’s throwing it 40 to 45 yards now. That’s a testament to how hard that he’s worked in the off-season.”


At running back, Matthew Cox, a 5-8, 165-pound junior, is back. He saw some time last year at tailback, rushing 38 times for 341 yards and three touchdowns. Filling in for an injured Street in last year’s 39-0 win at Shady Spring, Cox ran for 105 yards.


Cox appears to be Logan’s feature tailback heading into the season.


“He filled in for Worm last year,” Mullins said for Cox. “He’s a very explosive player and he’s another guy who is going to have to have a big year.”


Daniel Browning (5-8, 170 sophomore) and Devin Hensley (5-8, 165 freshman) are also pressing for time at tailback.


At fullback, newcomer Devonta Tolliver (6-1, 220 junior) could have the inside track. Tolliver played at Logan Middle School but this will be his first season of varsity ball.


“We expect him to have a good year,” Mullins said of Tolliver. “He’s catching on real quick.”


Mark Adams (5-9, 185 junior) is also back at fullback.


“He played some last year and has gotten stronger and stronger in the weight room,” Mullins said of Adams. “We look for him to progress a lot.”


At wide receiver, Logan is deep.


Cox, Tolliver and Browning will be three wideouts when not in the backfield, depending on Logan’s offensive scheme.


Logan has newcomers Brenton Vance (5-11, 180 senior) and Zac Acord (5-10, 150 senior), a pair of LHS basketball players, out for the first time. Vance also plays baseball at Logan.


“Brenton is so fast,” Mullins said. “He might be the fastest player that I’ve coached. Man, he can really move. Zac Acord has also come out for football. He has great hands and runs great routes and can do everything. He will be a big-time returner for us, too.”


Cameron Sammons (6-1, 175 senior), another multi-sport standout at Logan, will also be counted on at wide receiver.


“Cameron Sammons has came back out for football,” Mullins said. “He played some baseball last year.”


Chester Bradsher (5-9, 175 senior), a returning wide receiver, is back. He had only one catch last season but expects to see the ball come his way at lot more this fall.


“Chester has done the right thing. He has sit on the bench, cheered the team on and has lifted weights and is a great team player,” Mullins said. “But now that it matters he’s ready to go as a senior and it’s time to get his turn.”


Jeremiah Spears (6-1, 205 senior), who had two catches last year for 36 yards — both going for touchdowns — is also back. He will be splitting time at tight end and also at wideout.


Tyler Browning (5-7, 155), a sophomore, is also returning at WR.


“He broke his collar bone last year at the beginning of the season and was out the whole year,” Mullins said. “But he came back and was able to play in the playoff game.”


Two other new players — Colton Tomblin, a senior, and sophomore Jamal Minter — are also out for football.


“Colton is out for football for the first time and Minter comes over from the basketball team,” Mullins said. “Minter has really picked it up fast. He’s a great kid.”


Still yet another newcomer, junior Elijah Coleman, gives Logan another WR option.


“He’s a kid that not a whole lot of people know about,” Mullins said. “He played mostly JV ball last year but in practice, he keeps getting better and better.”


What Logan’s receiving corp lacks in game experience and in statistics is being made up with skill and athleticism. Coach Mullins said he hopes they can shine this fall.


“They definitely have a shot to be one the best groups we’ve ever had,” Mullins said. “They are definitely the deepest group. When we line up on the 29th, we will be able to play 12 to 15 wide receivers. That’s always a good thing to stay fresh.”


On the offensive line, Logan is starting from stratch as all of its starters have graduated. That has been a major concern for the Cats heading into the season.


“We have a lot of guys that are fighting for the job, it wouldn’t be fair to name anyone over anybody,” Mullins said. “It is 100 percent an open competition. We lost every starter that we had. To me, they are all starters right now. We have 20 to 25 of them fighting for a job and we have to find five to eight of them to play on Friday nights.”


On defense, Clayton Marcum (61 tackles), Street (60 tackles), Stephen Dilly (59 tackles), Vernatter (57 tackles), Tyler Workman (60 tackles and five interceptions) and Hepler (44 tackles) were key losses due to graduation.


On the defensive line, junior Jon Workman (6-0, 290) is back. He had 19 tackles last year.


Ryan Ellis (6-0, 235 junior) is also back on the D-line and played some last season. Hunter Vance (5-9, 230 junior), who played on both sides of the line in 2013, also returns, along with Chance Conn (5-11, 185 junior). Damian White is another D-lineman.


At linebacker, Jacob “Hammer” Browning (6-0, 225) is Logan’s top returnee. He led the team last season with 82 tackles. Browning is wearing No. 60 this season for the Cats.


“He started every game last year for us at middle linebacker,” Mullins said of Browning.


Spears is another returning linebacker.


“He played a tremendous amount last year,” Mullins said.


Tomblin and Daniel Browning, who Mullins describes as a “rover,” will also see action at linebacker, along with Gavin Ellis.


“We can blitz him and use him for cover,” Mullins said of Browning. “He’s basically a DB playing linebacker when it comes down to it. He’s got the toughness to play there but he’s also got speed.”


Nick Christian, a senior, who last played for Logan two years ago, is back out for the team and is pressing for playing time at LB.


Tolliver can also play at outside linebacker, along with Hensley. Adams may also play some in the middle. Cody Maynard, a young player, is also looking for time, along with Andrew Freeman.


In the secondary, Cox is the returning player with the most experience. He made 23 tackles last season.


Bradsher, who had nine stops a year ago, will also lead the group. Vance and Acord could also play iron man football if called upon to play on the defensive side of the ball at safety. Minter and Sammons, along with Tyler Browning, could also play cornerback. Nate Smith, a safety, is also looking for playing time as well.


“We’re going to be using a lot of guys in the secondary,” Mullins said. “All of those guys are in our eight-man rotation. We haven’t decided on any starters. We’re just going to put them out there and see who the best men are. It’s good that we are deep in that position.”


In the special teams, the Wildcats lost kicker Daniel Hanks due to graduation. Last year, he was 34-for-45 in PATs and added a 26-yard field goal. Hanks also handled some of the punting duties along with Rein.


Jacob Browning will most likely kick off for Logan.


“He’s got a big leg,” Mullins said.


Browning is also Logan’s long snapper but if he is called upon to punt, Logan will have to find someone else to hike him the ball.


“Hammer will be the punter or the long snapper one,” Mullins said.


As far as placekicking, Chris Watkins appears to have the nod. Browning may also placekick as well.


Logan’s 2014 schedule has only one change as the Wildcats will play host to Class AAA Brooke, which replaces 2A Mingo Central. The Wildcats play Brooke in Week 6 on Oct. 3 at the Logan Football Stadium.


The season opener is set for Aug. 29 at home against Man. The Wildcats beat the Class A Hillbillies 40-20 on the road last season. Man went on to go 9-2 and host a first-round playoff game.


In Week 2, Logan hosts Shady Spring on Sept. 5 before going to Lincoln County on Sept. 12.


In the fourth week, the Cats play at Point Pleasant before hosting 2A county rival Chapmanville on Sept. 26. Logan beat the Tigers 27-14 on the road last season.


After the Brooke game, Logan hosts 3A University on Oct. 10 and then heads to Class AAA Greenbrier East on Oct. 17.


Logan observes a bye week on Oct. 24, then closes out the regular season with two away games — Oct. 31 at 3A Nitro and Nov. 7 at 2A Scott.


“The schedule is tough. Point will probably be one of the top three or four teams in the state this year in Triple-A,” Mullins said. “Man is always tough and so is Chapmanville. We’ve got Brooke, University and Greenbrier East and that will be a tough stretch there. I don’t think we can win any game just by showing up.”


The Wildcats have enjoyed four straight winning seasons, a 28-15 mark and three playoff berths since 2010.


Coach Mullins returns almost his entire staff.


Josh Fry is the offensive coordinator and the defensive line coach.


Jason Davis coaches the offensive line and the linebackers.


Mullins said he’s ready for Season 11. He began back in 2004 as a 24-year-old head coach, the youngest in the state.


“Time flies by,” Mullins said. “I’ve been blessed to have great players and a great family and staff around me. We’re doing everthing that we can to keep Logan High School relevant in football.”


— The Man High School football team will be previewed in Tuesday’s sports.


———————


2014 Logan High School


Football Schedule:


Aug. 29: Man, 7:30 p.m.


Sept. 5: Shady Spring, 7:30 p.m.


Sept. 12: at Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.


Sept. 19: at Point Pleasant, 7:30 p.m.


Sept. 26: Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.


Oct. 3: Brooke, 7:30 p.m.


Oct. 10: University, 7:30 p.m.


Oct. 17: at Greenbrier East, 7 p.m.


Oct. 24: OPEN DATE


Oct. 31: at Nitro, 7:30 p.m.


Nov. 7: at Scott, 7:30 p.m.


———————


2013 Logan High School


Football Schedule (7-4):


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: at Point Pleasant (3A playoffs), L 14-41


———————


2014 Logan High School


Football Roster


NO. NAME HT. WT. POS. CLASS


1 CHESTER BRADSHER 5’9 175 WR/DB 12


2 CAMERON SAMMONS 6’1 175 WR/DB 12


3 RYAN MILLER 6’2 195 QB 12


4 DEVIN HENSLEY 5’8 165 WR/LB 9


5 MATTHEW COX 5’8 165 RB/DB 11


6 MATTHEW BROWN 5’10 170 QB/LB 9


7 ZAC ACORD 5’10 150 WR/DB 12


9 JIMMY EARLY 5’9 140 WR/DB 10


10 TRENT DUNCAN 5’9 160 WR/DB 10


11 GAGE SKEENS 5’7 140 WR/DB 11


12 ELIJAH COLEMAN 6’1 160 WR/DB 11


13 JEREMIAH SPEARS 6’1 205 TE/LB 12


15 LEVI JEFFREY 5’10 135 WR/DB 9


16 BRIAN FARLEY 5’9 170 QB/DB 10


19 JUSTIN WILEY 5’11 145 WR/DB 10


20 DEVONTA TOLLIVER 6’1 220 RB/LB 11


21 TYLER BROWNING 5’7 155 WR/DB 10


22 DANIEL BROWNING 5’8 170 WR/LB 10


23 COLTEN TOMBLIN 6’1 180 WR/LB 12


24 BRENTON VANCE 5’11 180 WR/DB 12


25 JAMAL MINTER 6’0 160 WR/DB 10


28 SKYLER MILLER 5’9 140 RB/DB 10


29 ADAM SMITH 6’0 155 WR/DB 10


31 NICK CHRISTIAN 6’0 205 OL/LB 12


32 TRICE BOATWRIGHT 59 140 WR/DB 10


40 MARK ADAMS 5’9 185 RB/LB 11


42 DAMIAN WHITE 5’10 210 OL/DL 12


44 CODY MAYNARD 5’10 175 TE/LB 10


46 NATHAN SMITH 5’10 160 WR/DB 11


47 ANDREW FREEMAN 5’10 205 TE/LB 11


50 CHANCE CONN 5’11 185 OL/DL 11


51 GAVIN ELLIS 6’0 230 OL/LB 11


52 JONATHON WORKMAN 6’0 290 OL/DL 11


55 JORDAN ONEY 5’7 190 OL/DL 11


56 RYAN ELLIS 6’0 235 OL/DL 11


60 JACOB BROWNING 6’0 225 OL/LB 12


61 CHRISTOPHER WATKINS 5’10 205 OL/DL 10


62 CAMERON JACKSON 6’0 185 WR/DB 10


63 CEZAR CRUZ 6’0 240 OL/DL 10


65 LOGAN ADKINS 6’4 280 OL/DL 11


67 MUSCO ADAMS 6’3 295 OL/DL 9


68 HUNTER VANCE 5’9 230 OL/DL 11


70 JACOB BROWN 5’10 165 WR/LB 9


71 MYRON MORRISON 6’0 185 OL/DL 11


72 AUSTIN DINGESS 6’3 195 OL/DL 9


73 DAVID CRUZ 6’1 200 OL/DL 10


75 CALEB MCDONALD 5’10 265 OL/DL 10


76 TREVOR HARDEN 6’0 195 OL/DL 12


77 HUNTER NELSON 5’9 200 OL/DL 12


78 BILLY HAGER 5’11 230 OL/DL 9


HEAD COACH: Gary Mullins


ASSISTANT COACHES: Josh Frye, Jason Davis


 
 
 
 
 
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