LOGAN — The Logan High School football team was not a model of stability last summer.
Former head coach James Toth resigned last June amid the three-week June practice period, leaving the Wildcats without a head coach for quite some time.
Logan Middle School coach Jimmy Sheppard was finally hired, but only days before the Wildcats were scheduled to begin regular practices in August for the 2018 football season.
Rumors flew around that Logan might not have enough players to field a team.
Those rumors were wrong.
Sheppard took over and went to work.
The Wildcats suffered all season long due to injuries and being dangerously thin on both their offensive and defensive lines.
But Sheppard and the Logan football team made the most of it, surprising many by going 4-6 and being competitive in most of its games.
Fast-forward to Season 2 of the Sheppard Era and the Wildcats are in a much better position.
Logan has much more depth, especially in the trenches. Some skilled position players are back and throw in a talented crop of new freshmen to go along with last year's frosh and the Wildcats have a shot at being pretty good this fall.
"The goal this year is to improve on what we did last year," Sheppard said. "Last year, people thought that we wouldn't win any games but we ended up winning four. We have a lot of more depth this year than what we've had in the past. I think that we're pretty good at most positions. We have a good receiving corps, a good running back and a good offensive line where we got a lot of kids back from last year."
Having that added depth should pay off this season.
"The best thing about this year is that we feel like we've got more depth and we can keep people fresh at every position," Sheppard said. "Last year in the Sissonville game we were so depleted that I was just putting kids in into positions that they've never even played. We ended up putting five different quarterbacks in there in the game because everyone was dealing with cramps. That made it hard for us."
Logan lost starting quarterback Chucky Felder to graduation, however, and those are big shoes to fill. Last season, Felder had a big year for the Cats, rushing for a Cardinal Conference-best 1,448 yards on 164 carries and scoring 12 touchdowns. He threw for another 804 yards and nine TDs.
The Wildcats will turn to sophomore Jordan Hayes and freshman Aiden Slack at QB.
Hayes saw some time under center last season, completing 6 of 14 passes for 148 yards.
"Both of them will see a lot of playing time," Sheppard said. "Both are really good and both do different things. Slack's more of a running quarterback. Jordan is more of a pocket quarterback. This year, our opponents will probably see both of them."
Senior Braydon McClung is Logan's likely third-string quarterback.
"He'll probably play quarterback some. He's got a really good arm," Sheppard said. "He plays linebacker for us."
Freshman Anthony Sloan is Logan's other QB.
"He's got a really good arm too," Sheppard said. "He'll probably play on the JV team this year."
At running back, Logan lost All-State Shawntez Matthews due to graduation.
The Cats, though, return senior power back Troy Cowart, who missed last season. Cowart had an outstanding sophomore season on both sides of the ball. At 6-2 and 295 pounds, Cowart is a load to bring down.
"He's going to be a really good player for us. He's a good leader and we've got him back after missing last year," Sheppard said of Cowart. "He's going to be our feature back. He's a big strong kid and he's even bigger and stronger than he was as a sophomore. He was about 6-foot, 240 then. He's about 6-2 now and about 295."
Korbin Bostic, Dawson Maynard, Kolton Goldie and senior Kaleb Williamson also will see time in Logan's backfield.
"He's been injured the last two years but we're happy to have him back," Sheppard said of Williamson. "He had a broken bone in his shoulder as a sophomore. Then he had a broken collar bone as a junior that put him out. He would have been a three-year starter for us but he's had to sit out the last two. He'll be a corner on defense."
Logan also has Dillon Adkins, McGrew and freshman Kaden Dotson in the backfield.
At wide receiver, Logan loses top target Michael Hall to graduation. Last season, Hall reeled in 21 passes for 707 yards and eight TDs and also saw action at running back.
Logan's top returnee is junior Corey Townsend, who caught 14 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown last season.
"We've got Corey back and this is his third year out there," Sheppard said. "He's a three-year starter. The last two seasons he was our second-leading receiver back-to-back behind Terrance Chapman two years ago and Michael Hall last year. This year, he should see a little more looks."
Sophomore Cameron Hensley is back for the Cats at wide receiver.
"He caught a few passes for us last year," Sheppard said.
Bostic and Maynard also are expected to see time at wideout.
"He got hurt last year after the Sissonville game," Sheppard said of Bostic, who missed part of the season last year due to injury. "Dawson is looking great out there as well. Korbin and Dawson both look very similar to Michael Hall. It will be nice to line up both of those guys this year."
Slack and senior newcomer Isaiah Hill give the Wildcats two more options in the slot.
"He's a senior and a newcomer," Sheppard said of Hill. "He's looked really good in flex days and a practice. He'll probably return kicks for us. He's a really good kid and he works super hard. Ever since April he's been in the weight room every day and has been out there working with the other kids."
Paul Nelson, a junior and first-year player, figures into Logan's plans at tight end.
"He's never played before," Sheppard said. "He's a junior and he's a big kid. He's about 6-2 and 190 or 200. He'll help us."
Down in the trenches, Logan is big, beefy and deep.
The offensive line expects to be one of the team's strengths. Due to numerous injuries and a lack of depth, the O-line was a major weakness for the Wildcats last season.
Logan returns lost starter Tyler Mileto to graduation, however.
"We have a lot of experience coming back," Sheppard said. "Last year, all of the linemen were first-year starters other than Tyler Mileto. Last year, he was really the only linemen that we had with game time experience in varsity. This year, we have seven linemen back with varsity experience."
Hunter Trent, who is close to 400 pounds, and Hunter Mileto come back after missing last season due to injuries.
"We have Hunter Trent and Hunter Mileto and both are coming back off injuries. Both are really big kid," Sheppard said. "Hunter had shoulder surgery right at the beginning of the season. Not having them last year sort of killed us."
Hunter White, another near 400-pounder, returns to his starting spot at tackle.
"We also have Hunter White back and he started at left tackle for us," Sheppard said. "We have a lot of size too. Hunter White and Hunter Trent are both around 400 pounds."
The Wildcats also have starter Jordan Sparks back at left guard.
"He started all 10 games last year," Sheppard said.
Chance Maynard and Tristan Burgess played some on the O-line last year and are back as well.
"Both played at guard last year sparingly but by the end of the season the last few games both of them started at guard," Sheppard said.
Freshman Cameron Allred, a 385-pounder, and senior center Logan Hunter, who checks in at around 340, also return.
On defense, McGrew is back as a starter at defensive end.
"He was our second or third leading tackler from last year," Sheppard said.
Mileto, Burgess and Nelson are also tabbed to play defensive end.
Trent, White, Hunter and Allred will likely alternate at nose guard.
"We'll use a lot of these guys on the offensive line, depending on what formation we are in and give them a lot of breaks," Sheppard said. "Then on defense, we run the 3-4 so they will get plenty of breaks there so they will get a lot of breaks there too."
Logan is deep at linebacker.
"Linebacker is probably our deepest position," Sheppard said. "We have so many guys there I don't even know who is going to start. We'll probably rotate 12 guys at linebacker."
Cowart is likely to start at middle linebacker.
"He'll be in the middle," Sheppard said. "He was Second Team Honorable Mention as a sophomore and led us in tackles."
Adkins, Dotson, Maynard and McClung will also see time at linebacker. McClung and Maynard are returning starters.
Goldie is moving from cornerback to outside linebacker this fall. Tiller and sophomore Noah McNeely are two other linebackers.
"A lot of these guys will see significant playing time at linebacker and we'll be rotating them in," Sheppard said.
In the secondary, Bostic returns as a starting cornerback. He went down to injury and Goldie, another freshman last year, took his place.
"Last year, Korbin Bostic started at corner in the first two games until he got hurt," Sheppard said.
Hensley is also back as a starter but he's moving from corner to safety. Slack and Hill are also projected to see time at safety.
"He's really pressing for playing time. He's been impressive. He might be a starting cornerbacker," Sheppard said of Hill.
Williamson, Slone, Townsend and Maynard round out Logan's secondary.
In the special teams, Slack is Logan's likely frosh starter at kicker.
"Our kicking game will be a lot better. Aiden Slack is a soccer style kicker, so that's great," Sheppard said. "He's pretty good at kicking extra points."
Cowart can both kick and punt.
"He can kick the ball to the end zone," Sheppard said. "He'll be kicking off for us. Troy can play a lot of different positions for us -- running back, linebacker, offensive guard, kicker, punter and holder."
Bostic and McClung are two other Logan punters. The graduated Hall punted for Logan last year, averaging 43.7 yards per boot.
"Last year, we had Michael Hall kick the rugby style punt but Braden is more of a straight on kind of punter," Sheppard said.
Logan opens the season on August 30 at Man then plays nine straight Cardinal Conference games.
Within the conference, Logan faces playoff teams Poca (9-2), Wayne (8-3) and Mingo Central (8-3). The three teams tied for league championship honors last season as the Dots, Pioneers and Miners all went 8-1 within conference play.
Logan's football field was renamed Willis-Nisbet Stadium over the summer, in honor former coaches Todd Willis, Jimmy Joe Willis and George Nisbet.
The facility was known over the years as Logan Stadium or Logan Football Stadium.
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter at @PAdkinsBanner or email him at email@example.com.
2019 Logan High School
Aug. 30: at Man, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6: *Sissonville, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 13: *Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20: *at Poca, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: *Winfield, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4: *at Nitro, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: *Scott, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18: OPEN DATE
Oct. 25: *Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1: *at Wayne, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: *at Herbert Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
*Cardinal Conference game
2019 Logan High School Football Roster
1 Aiden Slack
2 Paul Nelson
3 Korbin Bostic
4 Jordan Hayes
5 Sidney Chapman
7 Braydon McClung
8 Isaiah Hill
9 Cameron Hensley
11 Jalen Marcum
12 Jason Horne
13 Brayden Chambers
14 Kaleb Williamson
15 Dave Ellis
16 Caleb Tiller
17 Anthony Sloan
19 Dawson Maynard
20 Makiah Adams
21 Corey Townsend
24 Holden Setser
25 Shelton Stone
28 Kolton Goldie
29 Logan Cole
30 Troy Cowart
31 Caden Dotson
32 Malicah Campbell
33 Dylan Adkins
35 Conner McGrew
40 Conner Mullins
42 Noah McNeely
43 Dakota Abbott
44 Justin Collins
46 Hunter Meade
50 Hunter Mileto
51 Jordan Sparks
52 Chance Maynard
55 Tristan Burgess
57 Brennan Goff
60 Garrett Workman
61 TreQuan Williams
65 Preston Dobbins
66 Dakoda Kirk
67 Shawn Holland
68 A. J. Hughes
69 Hunter Trent
70 Isaiah Tomblin
71 Logan Hunter
72 Dorian Keene
75 Cameron Allred
77 Hunter White