By Paul Adkins
After three straight winning seasons the Logan High School football team would like nothing more than to see the trend continue this fall.
After going 6-5 in 2010 and 8-3 in 2011 and making the Class AAA playoffs each season, the Wildcats enjoyed a 7-3 grid campaign last year but missed reaching the post-season by just a whisker.
The challenge this fall is to keep the winning ways going.
It won’t be easy.
The Wildcats have a lot of returning players back from last year’s team but also lost a few key seniors to graduation. Logan is trying to build depth to bolster its roster and fill some of that void.
Then there’s Logan’s schedule which has also been beefed up a bit with the additions of a couple of Class AAA playoff teams from a year ago.
It’s going to be a challenge but a welcome one to Logan coach Gary Mullins and his staff. Mullins is set to open his 10th season as head coach of the Wildcats on Aug. 30 when Logan is scheduled to begin the season at county rival Man.
“Our goals are pretty much the same every year. We want to be the county champions first and foremost,” said Mullins, who has led Logan to four playoff appearances in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011. “If we are not the county champions the other goals are probably not going to happen. That’s the one that we have to start with. We want a winning season and we want to win a playoff game. Those are the three major ones.”
Mullins has led Logan to four of the school’s five all-time playoff appearances.
The Wildcats, though, are 0-5 all time in post-season games.
“It’s to the point now that we want to go to the playoffs but we want to win one. Going and losing is getting kind of old,” Mullins said.
The Wildcats must find a new field general to lead the team at quarterback after the graduations of Chris Marcum and Khaleel Reynolds who split time under center the last three years.
Ryan Miller (6-1, 195 junior), Brett Musick (6-1, 175 senior), freshman Noah Corbett (5-9, 145) and newcomer Daniel Hanks (6-0, 210 senior) were all competing for the job in the preseason camp.
Miller, who started in Logan’s preseason game with Tug Valley, appears to have the inside track. He threw a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game. Corbett was also impressive, running for a 65-yard touchdown against the Panthers.
“All four of those guys are getting reps,” Mullins said of his QBs. “All four of them are good players. Noah is the best freshman that I’ve ever had at quarterback as far as his skill level on the first day of practice. He looks like a junior or senior the way that he throws the football. Miller has a great arm and has played a lot. Musick is one of the smartest kids that we’ve got. The Hanks kid is a bull and he’s got a cannon. He’s Justin Taylor-like with his arm. Him and Justin Taylor would have a nice throw-off. He’s got one of the strongest arms that I’ve ever seen here. We’ve got four people competing for that job so that’ a position that depth is not really a problem.”
At running back, Logan returns its backfield from a year ago with fullback Tyler Vernatter (5-8, 205 senior) and halfback Brynden “Worm” Street (6-2, 190 senior), who also saw time at wide receiver. Both are also returning starters on the defensive side of the ball.
“They are going to be hard beats,” Mullins said of his starting tandem.
Senior Tyler Vance (5-9, 180) may also see some time in Logan’s backfield.
“He had a great camp and he’s especially good at catching the ball out of the backfield,” Mullins said of Vance. “He’s going to be a tremendous help to us.”
Sophomore Matthew Cox (5-10, 175) gives Logan another good option to go to at running back. Clayton Marcum (5-10, 170 senior), primarily a cornerback, may also see some carries, depending on the situation, as well as senior wideout Josh Rein (6-2, 185).
Rein is back as Logan’s primary go-to wide receiver. He caught the 70-yard bomb from Miller in the Tug Valley scrimmage. He also reeled in a 40-yard catch in the first series.
“Josh Rein is the best receiver that I’ve ever been around,” Mullins said. “He’s a great player and he’s got a great work ethic. He’s just a great kid, period.”
Musick will also be deployed out wide when not playing quarterback. He made a few grabs in the scrimmage against the Panthers.
Tyler Workman (6-0, 160 senior), who starts in Logan’s secondary, could also see time at receiver depending on the situation.
All of Logan’s running backs, including Street, Vernatter, Marcum, Cox and Vance could also see time at wideout in Coach Mullins’ system.
“They may all go out there,” he said. “Worm is going to be out there as well at Clayton and Tyler Workman. We’re going to use bunches of guys like we always do. All of our guys know our system.”
Mullins said he hopes to again have a variant but balanced offensive attack using the run to open the pass and the pass to open the run.
“We have to be able to run the ball,” Mullins said. “Last year, until late, we couldn’t run the ball very well. We did most of our running from Chris Marcum after the pocket broke down and he went for the yards. At the end of the season we got stronger. This year, our offensive line is tremendous and that should help us. They have to play their ‘A’ game every week because we are going to have to depend on them.”
On the offensive line, Logan returns starter Preston Hepler (6-2, 270 senior) at left tackle. At left guard, Ty Yeager (6-0, 275 senior) returns as a 20-game starter from the last two years. At center, Jody Butcher (5-11, 220 senior), another two-year starter, is back to man his post.
At right guard, Chance Ooten (5-11, 230 senior) appears to have the inside nod.
Jacob Browning (6-0, 220 junior) is also pressing for a starting job on the line.
Jon Workman (6-1, 285 sophomore) and Jacob Vance (6-3, 295 senior) are also key linemen. Vance started all 10 games for Logan last season.
Chris Browning (6-1, 225 junior), Jeremiah Spears (6-1, 205 junior), Kyle Runyon (5-10, 200 senior) and Jacob Browning are all pressing for playing time at tight end.
“All of those guys are returning players who have played at that position some,” Mullins said. “If we are not good on the offensive line and if we cannot win the battle in the trenches then we are probably going to lose. We are counting on winning the battle up front on the offensive line. If we don’t, we’re going to be in some trouble.”
Flipping over to the defensive line, many of the offensive linemen will also see time on the other side of the ball as Iron Men players.
“This year is a lot different,” Mullins said. “We have two-way players and we will even have three-way players counting the special teams. Most people don’t talk about three-way players. Clayton Marcum may never leave the field. He may play every snap of every game. The same goes for Tyler Vernatter. Worm is probably going to play 95 percent of the plays. If you want to win, we have to suck it up. If you look at (Brandon) Spurlock from Wayne he played on all of their special teams.”
Hepler is one of Logan’s starters on the D-line and may have to play both ways. Runyon is also a key player for the Cats on the line at defensive end.
“Kyle has done a tremendous job in the weight room,” Mullins said. “He’s one of the best people that I’ve ever been around. He’s going to be our defensive end. It’s his job to lose.”
Yeager, Butcher and the rest of the offensive linemen will also see time on the D-line, Mullins said.
“All of those guys are going to be in there but what we’re hoping is that we can rotate them and give them a break so you don’t have to play every snap,” Mullins said. “Hopefully some of those younger guys will be able to play and help us. Daniel Miller is a player who missed all of last year and came back out. He’s one of those guys. Jon Workman is another one. We need some players to be able to step up and make some plays and give our starters some breaks.”
At linebacker, Vernatter returns to his starting post.
“He’s one of those that knows how to play football,” Mullins said. “He’s not fast and he’s not tall but he knows how to get a jump and he has a nose for the ball. He’s like one of those outfielders in baseball in that he knows how to get a jump on the ball.”
Jacob Browning, Stephen Dilly (6-0, 210 senior), Spears, Chris Browning and Vance are all fighting for playing time at linebacker for the other two starting jobs.
“We’re going to have to find the two best out of those guys,” Mullins said.
In the secondary, Logan returns starter Street at safety. Street’s leaping ability and athleticism have been on full display for three years and he should be one of Logan’s team leaders this autumn.
“Worm is one of the best safeties out there. There’s no doubt,” Mullins said.
Cox looks to have the inside track as the Cats’ other starting safety.
Marcum and Workman are back as Logan’s starting cornerbacks.
“Clayton and Tyler Workman are two of the best corners that I’ve ever been around,” Mullins said.
Trent Duncan (5-7, 130 freshman) and Chester Bradsher (5-8, 160 junior) give Logan some depth in the secondary. Both are capable of doing the job.
“We’re building some depth and we’re trying to get some guys ready to go,” Mullins said.
The Wildcats have a few question marks in the kicking game. Brian Craft handled all of the punting and placekicking duties in 2012 but has been lost due to graduation. He signed in the off-season to punt for West Virginia State.
Jacob Browning and Hanks are fighting for Logan’s kicking job. Rein will most likely be the punter, Mullins said.
“He’s just one of the best athletes that we have,” Mullins said of Rein. “He was out there with a soccer ball the other day and he looks like he’s played soccer his whole life. Kicking should not be any big deal for him.”
The Wildcats’ 2013 schedule looks a bit different.
New are a quartet of Class AAA teams in Point Pleasant, University, Greenbrier East and Nitro.
Point Pleasant, a former Class AA team in the Cardinal Conference and the 2011 Double-A state runner-up to Wayne, stepped in nicely in West Virginia’s highest classification last year and closed out with an 8-3 record, falling 49-28 at Morgantown in the first round of the Triple-A state playoffs.
University, a Morgantown-based Class AAA power, also advanced to the post-season last fall but lost 24-23 to Lewis County in the opening round.
Greenbrier East (3-6-1) and Nitro (2-8) both suffered losing seasons last year. Logan hasn’t played Nitro since 2002 when the Cats lost 51-0 on the road. Logan beat Nitro 38-21 in 2001.
The new four opponents replace Johnson Central (Ky.), Winfield, Huntington and Hurricane.
Logan plays Point Pleasant, Greenbrier East and Nitro this season at home and goes to University on Oct. 11.
The Greenbrier East game on Oct. 18 is Logan’s homecoming game.
After opening the season at Man and at Shady Spring on Sept. 6, Logan has its home opener on Sept. 13 against Lincoln County in Logan High School’s annual Hall of Fame Game. The Wildcats crushed the Panthers in Hamlin last season, 48-0, racking up an identical 304 yards passing and 304 yards rushing for 608 total yards.
The Wildcats then go to county rival Chapmanville on Sept. 27 before observing their open date on Oct. 4.
After the University game and the contest against East, Logan heads to Mingo Central on Oct. 25 and hosts Nitro on Nov. 1 before closing out the season Nov. 8 at home against Scott on Senior Night.
“It’s a tough schedule,” Mullins said. “But we are also playing a lot of teams that feel like they owe us one. The Man High Hillbillies don’t like losing. They especially don’t like losing to Logan. Those kids are going to be hard-nosed and they are going to play hard. There is not a walk on our schedule. We will have our hands full every week. Our open week comes at the middle of the season and that’s about the best time. That will give us two weeks to get ready for University and it gives us some time right at the middle to heal up a little bit.”
Coach Mullins’ staff is pretty much the same as last year.
Josh Fry is back to coach the running backs and the defensive line as well as being the offensive coordinator.
Jason Davis returns to coach the offensive line and linebackers.
Jon Godby is the wide receivers’ coach.
Justin Keaton is new to the staff. He’s the LHS quarterbacks coach.
Mullins said he will coach the special teams.
* This week in the Logan Banner:
Wednesday: Previews of the Logan-Man and Chapmanville-Sissonville games and the Banner’s special southern West Virginia/eastern Kentucky high school football preview edition.
Thursday: A preview of the Chapmanville Regional Tigers.
Friday: A preview of the Man Hillbillies.
2013 Logan High School
Aug. 30: at Man, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6: at Shady Spring, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 13: Lincoln County (Hall of Fame Game), 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20: Point Pleasant, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 27: at Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4: OPEN DATE
Oct. 11: at University, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18: Greenbrier East (Homecoming), 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: at Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1: Nitro, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: Scott (Senior Night), 7:30 p.m.
2013 Logan High School Football Roster
NO. NAME POSITION GRADE HT. WT.
1- CHESTER BRADSHER WR/DB 11 5’8 160
2- TYLER BROWNING WR/DB 9 5’6 135
3- RYAN MILLER QB 11 6’1 195
4- TYLER VERNATTER RB/LB 12 5’8 205
5- MATT COX RB/DB 10 5’10 175
6-DANIEL HANKS QB/LB 12 6’0 210
7- NOAH CORBETT QB/DB 9 5’9 145
9-DANIEL BROWNING RB/LB 9 5’8 155
10-TRENT DUNCAN WR/DB 9 5’7 130
11- TYLER WORKMAN WR/DB 12 6’0 160
12-TYLER VANCE RB/LB 12 5’9 180
13- JEREMIAH SPEARS TE/LB 11 6’1 205
16-AUSTIN THOMPSON WR/DB 9 5’6 140
18- JACOB BROWNING TE/OL/LB 11 6’0 220
19- STEPHEN DILLY TE/LB 12 6’0 210
21- WORM STREET RB/DB 12 6’2 190
22- CLAYTON MARCUM WR/RB/DB 12 5’10 170
23- BRETT MUSICK QB/WR/DB 12 6’1 175
24- JOSH REIN WR/DB 12 6’2 185
25-WILLIAM BROWNING OL/DL 12 5’7 165
28- SKYLER MILLER WR/DB 10 5’9 160
29-ADAM SMITH TE/DB 9 6’0 140
32-AJ GRIMMETT TE/DE 11 6’3 210
33-TRES DUNCAN WR/DB 11 5’8 150
35- GAVIN ELLIS RB/LB 10 6’0 185
40- MARK ADAMS RB/LB 10 5’9 175
42- CHRIS BROWNING RB/LB 11 6’1 225
43- CHANCE CONN TE/LB 10 5’10 170
44- KYLE RUNYON TE/DE 12 5’10 200
46- NATE SMITH WR/DB 10 5’9 150
47- ANDREW FREEMAN OL/LB 10 5’9 190
50- CEZAR CRUZ OL/DL 9 5’8 170
51- PRESTON HEPLER OL/DL 12 6’2 270
52-JON WORKMAN OL/DL 10 6’1 285
55- JORDAN ONEY OL/DL 10 5’7 170
56- RYAN ELLIS OL/DL 10 6’0 205
60- JACOB VANCE OL/DL 12 6’3 295
61- CHRIS WATKINS OL/LB 9 5’9 180
62- JODY BUTCHER OL/DL 12 5’11 220
66-CHANCE OOTEN OL/DL 12 5’11 230
67-COLTEN WHITE OL/DL 10 6’2 180
68-HUNTER VANCE OL/DL 10 5’9 210
70-MYRON MORRISON OL/DL 10 5’11 180
73-DAVID CRUZ OL/DL 9 6’1 170
76- TY YEAGER OL/DL 12 6’0 275
77- HUNTER NELSON OL/DL 11 5’8 200
78-DANIEL MILLER OL/DL 12 6’1 315
81-ELIJIAH COLEMAN WR/DB 10 6’0 170
82-DANIEL FAINE WR/DB 12 5’7 150
84-CODY MAYNARD TE/LB 9 5’9 180
HEAD COACH: Gary Mullins