When times are tough sometimes it’s best to return to your roots.
That’s what Logan High School football coach Gary Mullins and the Wildcats hope to accomplish this fall in the 2010 season.
Last year, Logan stumbled to a 1-9 season in the Wildcats’ second campaign since returning to the Class AAA level.
It was a rough off-season.
First, Mullins pondered whether he would even be coming back for his seventh season.
Then Logan’s top returning running back, Dustin Botsch, surprisingly transferred to rival Chapmanville Regional High School.
But since, things have been on the up and up.
Mullins has seen a rededication by his players, particularly in the weight room, and all signs are positive heading into the summer.
Logan and other high school football teams across the state are allowed to hit the gridiron for the first time in the three-week summer practice period in later this month.
Then its back to the weight room before the first official practices are allowed to start at the beginning of August.
All roads are headed to Aug. 27 at Logan Stadium with Logan’s traditional season opener against county rival Man.
Logan will be challenged with another tough schedule.
Despite a bit of shuffling, it’s pretty much the same as last year.
The only addition to the schedule is Triple-A Nicholas County which the Wildcats are scheduled to host on Sept. 3 in Week 2 of the season.
Logan has six Triple-A opponents — Nicholas County, Lincoln County, Perry County Central, Ky., Winfield, Bridgeport and Hurricane – on the 2010 schedule.
The Wildcats play three Double-A foes in rivals Chapmanville and Scott and also Herbert Hoover, an old Cardinal Conference opponent, in addition to Single-A Man.
Last year, the Hillbillies beat Logan 34-7 in the season opener at Man and went on to Wheeling Island Stadium and the Super Six where Man lost 27-7 to Weirton Madonna in the Class A state championship game.
“It’s definitely a tough schedule,” Mullins said. “But we feel like since we played so many freshmen and sophomores last season that will help us. They have a year more of experience.”
The Nicholas County Grizzlies are an enigma to Logan football.
“We know that they had a bunch of seniors last year,” Mullins said. “They had 20-some from what I know. I don’t know much about them but I know that they are really well coached. I know they have a great facility up there in Summersville with a turf field. We won’t be going up there until next year. I think it will be a good series. We’re close to the same size. It’s definitely going to be a game that we need to compete in and win when we play them at home for sure.”
Last year, Logan beat Lincoln County, 20-6, in Week 2 and then lost its last eight games.
“We’ve got to win games against teams who are the same size or smaller,” Mullins said. “Man was as good a team as anybody in the state of West Virginia last year. We were the first team to find that out. But when you have two times the enrollment you’re supposed to beat the smaller schools. When you’re a Triple-A school and you lose to a Single-A school it’s embarrasing, especially for me. It all falls on me and it’s unacceptable to lose to smaller schools in my opinion, especially in football because it’s such a numbers game.”
Logan has Man, Nicholas County, Chapmanville, Winfield and Bridgeport at home this season. The Wildcats travel to Lincoln County, Perry Central, Herbert Hoover, Hurricane and Scott.
It’s the second straight year, Logan is set to play at Perry Central. Last year, the Hazard, Ky.-based team beat the Wildcats 50-18.
The game at Lincoln County in Week 3 is set to be played on Saturday, Sept. 11. The reason for that is because this year’s WVU-Marshall game is set to be played on Friday, Sept. 10.
“We changed the way that our schedule is set up a little bit,” Mullins said. “We play Man at home the first week and then Nicholas County, our new opponent, at home. Then in the third week, we have a Saturday night game at Lincoln County on September 11th because the West Virginia-Marshall game is on that Friday night. That’s not good for a high school crowd. Also, our bye week is now in the middle of the season and the Scott game is now our last game of the season.”
Mullins has two new members to his staff – offensive coordinator Chris Napier and John “Bub” Godby, a former Wildcat who will be coaching Logan’s wide receivers and DB’s.
“We’ve got a new guy, Chris Napier, from the Huntington area who is going to be our offensive coordinator,” Mullins said. “He’s coached at Huntington some and for some of the Arenaball teams down there. We’re real excited to have him. Bub Godby is also coming in to coach our wide receivers and our defensive backs. We feel like we’ve got some great additions on our team as far as players but we’ve also got two great additions to our coaching staff.”
Mullins said he’s seen an up-tick in his player’s off-season motivation.
“We’ve been very motivated by going 1-9 last year and the things that have happened to us in the off-season,” he said. “This has been a real good group. We’ve been getting anywhere from 33 to 41 players in the weight room every day. They’ve been working hard and everybody has got something to prove. When you are 1-9 you don’t have much good to talk about, so we’re trying to reverse that trend. If you don’t it can just snowball. We’re not ever going to expect to lose.”
Mullins said he hopes to use the June practice period to install Logan’s new offensive scheme.
In his early years at Logan in the mid 2000s, the Wildcats aired it out with quarterback Justin Taylor and top wideouts C.B. Green and Joey Carter. In recent years, Logan went to a more balanced attack.
This fall, Logan could be looking to take it to the air more with rising senior quarterback David Brown, who has a lot of experience under center for the Wildcats.
“We have to install our new offensive concept and get the players acclimated to how we are going to do things,” Mullins said. “It’s going to be a throwback to my early years of coaching if I can say that because I’m only 31 years old. It’s going to be no-nonsense. At the end of June we’re going to be ready to play like it’s August. We’re going to treat that time just like we would in August when we are in two-a-days. We’re going to work extremely hard. We’ve already determined that we’re going to get ready to play Man if it’s June, July or August. We’re not going to do the three-week period and back off a little bit. We’re not allowed to practice in July but we will be keeping the same intensity in weight lifting and conditioning like we will be in June.”
If Logan goes to the spread, the pressure will be on Brown to have a good season.
“With the system that we’re going to run this year he has to have a big year for us,” Mullins said.
So is Logan going to be airing it out again?
“Oh yes,” Mullins said. “If you could characterize us we’ll be like Texas Tech but in the I-formation. That’s the way that we’re going to be. We’re going to be more spread but with that being said we’ve also got a lot of good running backs, too. We feel like we’ve got a great quarterback, a great offensive line and some good receivers to get the ball to. We’re going to be in the spread but we’re also going to run the ball. We’ve got Joe Street, David Toney, Jason Spurlock and some other guys that we feel are very capable of running the ball. We’re just forward to gettting out there.”
Another plus in Logan’s favor appears to be the offensive line, which returns anchorman Andrew Reynolds.
“We think that we’re going to have a great offensive line,” Mullins said. “Andrew Reynolds will be starting his third year there on the line. We just think that he’s tremendous. We’ve also got four or five other guys who have played a lot. We think that group will be really good for us.”
Mullins said he could also be moving players to difference positions.
“You’ll even see David Brown and some of the other guys on defense this year because we’ve decided that everybody on the team is going to play defense no matter what position that they play,” Mullins said. “You’re going to see some guys in some positions that you’ve not seen before. It’s going to be real exciting.”