The 2011 high school football season was a memorable one for the Logan Wildcats.
You had the last-minute touchdown pass from Khaleel Reynolds to Worm Street and Joe Street’s second-effort two-point conversion in the 22-21 win at county rival Chapmanville.
Then you had the 28-27 comeback win at Huntington as Joe Street’s gutty halfback pass to Brant Williams on the two-point conversion proved to be the difference with 59 seconds to go in the game.
Then there was the 27-23 upset win at home in the mud over Hurricane — a team which had crushed the Wildcats 55-0 and 62-29 the previous two seasons.
You had the dynamic backfield combo of Joe Street and David Toney, which electrified crowds all season.
Logan was county champions, also owning a 30-7 victory over Man.
At season’s end, Logan was the No. 4 seed and received a first-round home game in the Class AAA playoffs.
But it all didn’t end well for the Wildcats, which saw their season come to a close at 8-3 after bowing 51-8 to Parkersburg South in the post-season as Logan dropped to 0-5 all-time in the playoffs.
All in all, the 2011 grid campaign was a watershed season for Logan football.
The Wildcats would like to see another successful football campaign this fall.
With plenty of skilled position players returning, Logan looks to do just that. The Wildcats are scheduled to open the season on Friday, Aug. 24 at home against Class A county rival Man.
Wildcats’ ninth-year head coach Gary Mullins said last year’s success went a long way in restoring confidence and swagger to the Logan football program.
“Our guys believe that they are going to win now,” Mullins said. “But, as we talked in the preseason, when you are trying to obtain a 5-5 or 6-4 record and get into the playoffs that’s not that hard to do. Last year’s team set the bar high with an 8-2 record. We didn’t win that playoff game. We so badly wanted to win. But you have to work really hard to be at that level. to be an 8-2 football team with our schedule you have to be really good every day at practice and work really hard. They have up until this point. But they understand that it’s not going to come easy and they understand that a lot of those games last year could have gone either way. I think that experience, though, will help us when they get into those types of close football games.”
Mullins lists his skilled positions as his team’s strengths.
“This is the most skilleds that we’ve ever had since I’ve been coaching here,” he said. “We may have had individual players who may have been better than some of the players that we have now but we have so much depth with our skilled players on offense and defense. We can run 10, 12 or even 15 guys in. We have two freshmen who are tremendous that in normal years would start for us. We’re really deep.”
Logan, however, has question marks along the offensive line, which was hit hard by graduation.
“We’re very deep there but we are also inexperienced,” Mullins said. “I’m not worried about the offensive and defensive lines. I think those guys are going to be fine but those guys don’t have a lot of game experience and reps. There’s three returning starters on the O-line and three on the D-line. Everyone else has played but now they have to play varsity football and it’s different. We’ve got to see how fast it takes to get them up to speed with everybody else.”
At quarterback, Logan is solid with seniors Chris Marcum and Khaleel Reynolds.
Marcum started last season but was injured in the Week 2 win at Nicholas County. Reynolds then stepped in and did a fine job, leading Logan to the Class AAA playoffs.
Both will likely see action under center this fall. The third-string quarterback is sophomore Ryan Miller. Logan also has a pair of freshmen quarterbacks waiting in the wings in Chase Burdette and Tyler Meade.
“Quarterback is a position that for a long time we struggled with,” Mullins said. “We had a good quarterback, we felt like, for most years. We had David Brown, Justin Taylor and Albert Cooper and we could go on and on but we really never had back-ups. Our back-up plan was usually a skilled position player. To have five guys, that’s the first time we’ve ever had that in the nine years that I’ve been here. That gives you a little more options.”
At running back, Logan loses its starting backfield — Joe Street and David Toney — to graduation. The two combined to rush for more than 2,000 yards last season and went on to both play in the North-South All-Star Game before heading to the University of Charleston and West Virginia State respectively.
“We’re not in any kind of delusion that we’re going to replace those guys with one player each,” Mullins said. “We’re going to try to use multiple guys.”
At fullback, Tyler Vernatter is the likely starter for Logan, along with Kade Doss, who is also expected to see lots of carries.
At tailback, a number of Wildcats could get the ball, including Reynolds, Worm Street and Williams.
“We don’t need a guy to be a David Toney,” Mullins said when asked about his running back by committee plan. “We just need three guys to pick up the load and do a little bit. We’re taking some guys that are not necessarily running backs and we’re making them into running backs when they are not at slot wide receiver. You could see 15 different guys probably carry the football.”
Most of Logan’s running backs, including Street, Williams and Reynolds, will also see time at wide receiver.
“Some of those guys will also be sent out,” Mullins said. “Khaleel, of course, is tremendous out there. So is Brant Williams.”
Josh Rein, Brett Musick, C.J. Williams, Matt Cox and Skyler Miller are other wideouts expected to see action this fall for the Wildcats, along with Clayton Marcum and Tyler Workman.
“We’re not hurting at wide receiver. We’ve got a lot of skilled guys,” Mullins said. “We’re really excited about that.”
Logan’s primary tight ends are Brian Ball, Thomas Hunter and Jeremiah Spears.
“We’ll play in just about any formation. We’d love to get into the I-formation and run it down people’s throats like we did last year. That makes play-calling pretty easy,” Mullins said. “I could have let anyone call the plays last year. They knew what was coming. They just couldn’t stop those two guys (Toney and Street). That’s Plan A and that’s what we’re preparing to do but we are also preparing Plan B if we are unable to just sit back and ram it down team’s throats.”
On the offensive line, Logan returns Ty Yeager and Jody Butcher — both starters from last year’s squad.
“Both of those guys started every game for us last year,” Mullins said.
Logan has moved tight end and basketball player T.J. Tomblin to an offensive tackle position.
Preston Hepler, Jacob Vance, Michael Hall, Brian Craft are other offensive linemen who are going to factor into playing time, Mullins said.
“We’ve got eight guys to find five spots,” Mullins said. “All eight, along with a ninth, Teddy Nelson, figure into our plans. We’re not going to be as good on the offensive line as a unit. We don’t have Tyler Nelson and Marc Morris. Those guys played 30 games but they graduated. But what we’re going to have is a lot of fresh bodies to give some of the guys a break. In theory for a whole game, we may end up being better because of our rotations.”
On the defensive line, Tomblin is back as a starting defensive end. Yeager and Hepler also played on the D-line last year.
Williams, even though a bit undersized, may also be used at defensive end and will be counted on to use speed to put pressure on the quarterback.
“He’ll be modeled as our version of Bruce Irvin,” Mullins said of Williams. “Also, all of our guys on the offensive line will play at times on the defensive line, so we’ve got a lot of guys to pull from. Teddy Nelson is a guy that I expect you won’t miss. He’s a monster. We expect big things out of him on the defensive line this year for us.”
Three starters return for Logan at linebacker in Vernatter, Hunter and Doss. Chris Browning and Spears are also pressing for playing time.
“Those guys are all smaller guys. They are great tacklers and they are also very hard hitters,” Mullins said. “We’re going to try to funnel everything to them, let them use their strengths and have it to where they won’t have to go one-on-one. We’re going to let them be our punishers as we call them.”
Logan is also deep, talented and athletic in the secondary, led by Worm Street, who has great speed and jumping ability and has a knack for getting to the ball.
Also back at defensive back are starters C.J. Williams, Clayton Marcum and Chris Marcum. Workman and Cox are also pressing for playing time, along with Rein and Musick.
Street and Chris Marcum are the likely starters at safety.
“We are really loaded at DB,” Mullins said. “Matt Cox is the best freshman defensive back that I’ve ever had. He still may start, but in a normal year he would be the starter. He’s that good at corner already. We’ve got 10 or 12 guys who will play in the secondary. We’re changing schemes just a little bit, so they have had to learn a few new things but we’re strong back there. If we give up a lot of passing yards we’re going to lose. That’s got to be our strength. We have to know going in that we have to stop teams from throwing the football.”
Logan’s special teams surrounds one man.
Just like last year, Craft is expected to handle all of the kicking duties for the Wildcats with the punting, place-kicking and the kickoffs.
“He does it all,” Mullins said. “There may be teams that will do it better at one but not at all three. He does it all for us — he punts, kicks off and kicks extra points and field goals. He is tremendous. He went to camps this summer and has gotten better. The great thing about him is that, and he will tell you, is that he was a horrible athlete as a ninth and tenth grader. He’s the perfect example of a guy that you look at as a freshman that you will say that he will never help us. But I’ve never seen a guy work harder at kicking. I have to make him leave the field because I’m worried about him getting hurt. Then he just takes the ball home with him and does the same thing. I can’t guess how many balls he’s kicked over the last two years.”
Mullins said Craft’s range is about 45 yards.
“From 45 yards and in we’ll try to kick field goals,” Mullins said. “Last year, we felt like it was about 30 yards but we didn’t do it that much because our fourth downs were so manageable because we ran the ball so much. He’s a great kicker. He can do all three of them and I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t our MVP this season.”
Logan’s schedule is virtually the same as last year.
The only difference is that Shady Spring replaces Nicholas County in Week 2 of the regular season. The Wildcats host Class AAA Shady on Aug. 31 after hosting county rival Man on Aug. 24 in the opener.
Logan then travels to 3A Lincoln County on Sept. 7, goes to Johnson Central (Ky.) on Sept. 14 and hosts 2A county rival Chapmanville on Sept. 21.
After traveling to 3A Winfield on Sept. 28, the Wildcats have their bye week on Oct. 5 before hosting 3A Huntington on Oct. 12.
Logan then closes out the season with three games — Oct. 19 at home against 2A Mingo Central, Oct. 26 at 3A Hurricane and Nov. 2 at home against the Class AA Scott Skyhawks.
Mullins said there are no pushovers on the Logan football schedule. Shady Spring is led by Adam Weeks, one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the state.
“Shady Spring has a tremendous quarterback,” Mullins said. “Our secondary may see the best quarterback in the state in the second game of the year against Shady. Him and the quarterback from Hurricane are the top two quarterbacks in the state. We’ve got another tough schedule. The Man game is always tough. I don’t care what class they are and what class we are but anybody who has ever played that game or watched that game knows what a battle it is. It’s hard fought. It’s going to be a great game on August 24 and we hope a lot of people come see it. We played Johnson Central tough last year for three quarters but then it snowballed from there. That has seemed to be our M.O. with the Kentucky schools.”
Aug. 24: Man, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 31: Shady Spring, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7: at Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 14: at Johnson Central, Ky., 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21: Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 28: at Winfield, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 5: Open date
Oct. 12: Huntington, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 19: Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 26: Hurricane, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 2: at Scott, 7:30 p.m.