After three straight blowout losses to Johnson Central (Ky.), including last year’s 36-6 loss at home to the Golden Eagles, the Logan High School football team would like to change things around this season.
Logan will get its chance on Friday night as the Class AAA No. 10 Wildcats (3-0) are scheduled to cross the Tug River into the Kentucky Bluegrass to take on Johnson Central.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Johnson Central High School football field in Paintsville, Ky.
Logan hasn’t had much luck against the Class 4A Kentucky power, also losing 69-40 in 2005 and 35-8 in 2006 when the two teams last played each other in Paintsville.
Last year, however, the Wildcats played Johnson Central much tougher. Logan took a 6-0 lead after a 95-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Reynolds and trailed the Golden Eagles just 14-6 after three quarters of play.
Johnson Central then took it to the Cats with a 22-0 fourth quarter to grab the 30-point win at Logan Stadium.
Logan comes into the game undefeated after last week’s 48-0 shutout win at Lincoln County.
The Wildcats have outscored their opponents 114-7 so far this season.
Johnson Central was idle last week.
The Golden Eagles are 2-1 after falling 39-29 on Aug. 31 to Knox Central (Ky.) in a game played at Clay County High School in Barbourville, Ky. Johnson Central, coached by Jim Matney, won 39-7 over Hayesville (N.C.) in the opener and then took a 44-36 victory at Perry Central on Aug. 24 in Week 2.
Logan coach Gary Mullins said he expects another difficult challenge for his squad against the Golden Eagles but is looking forward to see how the Wildcats stack up against the big Kentucky school.
“They are very good and very talented and they are very big and strong up front,” Mullins said. “We’ll definitely have to play our best to beat them but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Coach Matney, now in his ninth year as Johnson Central’s head coach, led the Golden Eagles to a 9-3 record and 4A playoff berth last year. He previously coached at Sheldon Clark High School in Inez, Ky., and had a successful run there in turning around the Cardinals’ program.
Johnson Central had a great season in 2011 but lost the state’s all-time leading rusher J.J. Jude to graduation. Jude broke Derek Homer’s Kentucky state rushing record last season in a victory over Covington Holmes in the first round of the playoffs. Jude finished his career with 8,633 yards and led Johnson Central to a 21-14 win at state power Belfry during the regular season.
Johnson Central was eventually routed 67-20 by defending state champion Fort Thomas Highlands in the second round of the playoffs.
Top Golden Eagle players this year are: junior running back Josh Dillon; junior quarterback Zach Gound; senior running back Jimmy Preston; and senior lineman Rusty Baldridge.
“They run a lot of different running backs at you,” Mullins said. “They will all get the ball. Their quarterback is the same one that they had last year. He seems to spread it around a little bit and he can run it himself so we have to be able to account for all of their offensive sets for sure.”
Johnson Central plays in a difficult 4A district with Ashland, Rowan County, Boyd County and Greenup County.
Johnson Central, with an enrollment of 1,040 students in grades 9-12, was formed in 1968 with the consolidation of four small Johnson County high schools — Van Lear, Meade Memorial, Flat Gap and Oil Springs.
The Golden Eagles once played a popular football series with Class A cross-town rival Paintsville, but the game, dubbed as the Apple Bowl, was discontinued in 2008 after 34 years due to the disparity in the size of the two schools and Johnson Central’s recent dominance. It was quite a turn of the tables because Paintsville, back on the day under legendary coach Walter Brugh, often dominated the series with big brother Johnson Central in the early years of the bowl game.
Matney’s Golden Eagles pounded Paintsville for five straight years from 2004-08 before the Apple Bowl ended. The Apple Bowl coincided with the City of Paintsville’s annual Kentucky Apple Festival and the winner of the game was handed a unique trophy — an actual apple cider barrel — with school logos and scores of past games on its wooden sides.
After years of so-so play, the Golden Eagles reached the playoffs for the first time in school history in 1995 under former coach Bill Musick, falling 52-8 at Bell County, Ky.
Coach Matney has since taken the Golden Eagles to another level in his nine years at the helm.
Logan is coming off an outstanding performance last week at Lincoln County.
The Wildcats led just 6-0 at the half after committing three turnovers but then erupted for 42 points in the final two quarters.
Logan finished with 608 yards of total offense an equal 304 on the ground and 304 in the air.
Senior quarterback Chris Marcum was 10-for-17 passing for 304 yards, with four touchdowns and one pick. His favorite target was junior wide receiver Josh Rein, who reeled in five passes for a whopping 247 yards and three touchdowns on grabs for 65, 40 and 98 yards.
“It was a pretty good night for us, especially in the second half when we quit turning the ball over and we were a little more crisp,” Mullins said. “We just have to keep getting better and keep looking forward. We’ve got a lot of good wide receivers. Josh had a great game last week. Khaleel seems to be our steady guy and he has about the same stat line every night. C.J. Williams stepped up in the Shady Spring game and Josh Rein was huge in the Lincoln County game. We just have to keep stepping up so we can keep winning these games.”
Logan’s defense was also supurb, intercepting Lincoln County five times and keeping the Panthers out of the end zone. Marcum had two picks, while Worm Street, Tyler Workman and Trent Dalton had one each.
“So far our defense has played well but we haven’t gotten to the toughest part of our schedule,” Mullins said. “We have to continue to get better and make sure our assignments are taken care of.”
Logan’s JV team improved to 2-0 on the season with a 52-0 victory over Man last week. The Cats had also beaten Man in the opener.
Logan vs. Johnson Central (Ky.)
2011: Johnson Central 36, Logan 6
2006: Johnson Central 35, Logan 8
2005: Johnson Central 69, Logan 40