Paul Adkins Sports Editor
September 11, 2013
History has a way of repeating itself.
The Logan High School football team is just fine with that if it does.
The Wildcats have a chance to start out the season 3-0 for the second straight year as Logan (2-0) is scheduled to host winless Lincoln County (0-2) on Friday night in the Wildcats’ home opener and Hall of Fame Game.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at the Logan Football Stadium on Midelburg Island.
Logan, which doubled up Man 40-20 in the opener, and then went to Shady Spring last week and took care of the Tigers by a 39-0 score, are right where they want to be.
The Cats, which are favored to beat Lincoln County, could very well go 3-0 with the home showdown with Point Pleasant set for Sept. 20.
This week is what many football pundits call a “trap game.”
Lincoln County is a team Logan handled easily last year, 48-0 at Hamlin, as the Wildcats rolled up 608 yards of total offense – an equal 304 on the ground and another 304 in the air.
The Panthers, which were blasted 70-14 by Point Pleasant in the opener and lost 46-21 last week at Class AA Scott, are riding a 12-game losing skid after last year’s 0-10 mark.
Lincoln County, in existence since 2006 following the consolidation of the county’s Class A schools, have never enjoyed a winning season and are just 16-56 all-time.
To find the last victory by the Panthers you would have to go all the way back to November 2011 when Lincoln County won 66-0 at Sherman over the Tide.
It’s a classic trap game for Logan but the Wildcats do not want to fall into that trap.
“It’s always good to start off 2-0. We had to rely on a lot of backups in Friday night’s game but they really stepped up especially offensively,” Logan coach Gary Mullins said. “We just have to keep progressing and keep getting better because I think Lincoln County is a scary team. They have a lot of speed and they play really aggressive. We just have to understand that having two wins right now only assures you to be 2-8, so we have to go and earn the third one.”
Lincoln County showed some big-play potential in last week’s Scott game as Chaz Wiley found paydirt on back-to-back rushes, covering 70 and 75 yards as the Panthers first tied the game 7-7 and then went ahead 14-13 briefly in the second quarter.
But it was all Scott after that.
The Skyhawks outscored Lincoln County 33-7 the rest of the way to turn it into a blowout.
Lincoln County’s defense allowed Scott senior tailback Cameron Loftus to rush for 172 yards on 13 carries and score five touchdowns. Loftus burned the Panthers for a 60-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
Scott showed a balanced attack against LC, as quarterback Cody Brown was 8-for-15 passing for 150 yards.
Lincoln County first-year head coach Derek Christian said his team was just overpowered by Scott and must improve.
“Their physical strength was the difference,” Christian told the Charleston Gazette. “We’re not there in the weight room yet. We’ve been in the weight room for seven or eight months and they’ve got a lot of three- and four-year players. We’re just a little bit weaker right now, but we’re going to work on that.”
The Panthers closed out their scoring late in the game as QB Grant Bates had a 1-yard TD run.
Wiley finished with 167 yards rushing on 14 carries. Lincoln County had two 100-yard rushers as Blake Taylor rolled up 113 yards on 26 carries. Bates was just 1-for-5 passing for nine yards and two interceptions.
“I don’t see any reason why we would overlook Lincoln County,” Mullins said. “They are 0-2 but they’ve lost to Scott and Point Pleasant. A lot of teams would be 0-2 if they played those two schools. Our players have to understand how important this game is for Lincoln County, too. Wiley is very explosive. He also had an interception return for a touchdown against Point Pleasant. He’s very quick. If he gets out in front of us we’ll have a very tough time catching him.”
Logan played last week’s game without starting running back/safetly Brynden “Worm” Street, who was nursing a sore hand. During the game, Logan also lost its other backfield starter as running back Tyler Vernatter left the game with a high ankle sprain.
Starting quarterback Ryan Miller also left the Shady game due to injury.
“We’re at the point where injuries are starting to mount up on us a little bit,” Mullins said. “We’re going to have to get tough and push through those injuries and make sure that we are ready to play because I think Lincoln County is much improved. I look for them to have a great game plan and a great effort on Friday night.”
Mullins said Street and Vernatter are likely well enough to play against the Panthers. Miller is listed as questionable and could be sitting out a week.
“Worm’s hand is getting better every day,” Mullins said. “I would expect him to play on Friday night. Vernatter’s ankle is getting better and he said he was feeling pretty good. Miller I’m not sure about. He’s probably got the lowest percentage of playing on Friday night out of the three but we’re hoping that he progresses and can get out there. Miller stepped into a hole that was out there on the field. When he stepped into the hole his knee twisted and he went down. The trainers seem to think that it was tight and strained and nothing was torn. That was the initial assessment, so that is good news, but if I had to make a prediction he would have a hard time playing on Friday night because he was in so much pain and couldn’t put much weight on it.”
With the injuries the Wildcats went to the bench and Logan reserves answered the call.
Logan freshman quarterback Noah Corbett was 7-for-11 in the air for 66 yards and a score in about two and a half quarters of action.
“He gives us another dimension,” Mullins said of Corbett. “We ran the option there in the third quarter against Shady and you could tell that they hadn’t seen anything like that out of us because Miller is more of a drop-back passer. When you have an injury you just have to move on and put the next-best guy in there and make sure that everyone rallies around him until they get comfortable.”
Corbett reminds many of former Logan player Khaleel Reynolds, who saw time at quarterback, running back and wide receiver in his career with the Cats which spanned 2009-12.
“He’s a lot like Khaleel as far as playmaking,” Mullins said. “Khaleel was an athlete playing quarterback. Noah can drop back and pass more and he can run. He’s still real young.”
Matthew Cox stepped in for Street at tailback and had eight carries for 105 yards, including a 54-yard TD run.
Vernatter had eight carries for 71 yards and the two scores for the game before leaving. He’s scored a team-high four touchdowns on the season.
Senior wide receiver Josh Rein reeled in five catches for 57 yards and a TD. Senior Brett Musick had three grabs for 38 yards and a score.
Logan rushed 37 times for 329 yards and finished with 424 yards of total offense. Shady Spring was held to 132 yards of total offense. The Tigers had 93 net yards rushing on 29 carries and completed 6-of-15 passes for 39 yards and three interceptions.
On defense, Stephen Dilley paced the Wildcats with 10 tackles. Jacob Browning had seven tackles, while Clayton Marcum had six and Tyler Workman five tackles and two interceptions. Musick had one pick.
On the season, Dilly leads Logan with 20 tackles. Marcum has 15, Browning 14 and Vernatter and Workman have 12 each.
Miller is 10-for-15 passing for 248 yards and three TDs – all in the Man game.
Rein is Logan’s top receiver with 10 catches for 202 yards and two scores.
Street has 12 rushes for 141 yards and a touchdown – all in the Man game. Vernatter has 14 attempts for 127 yards and four scores. Cox had 10 rushes for 132 yards and two TDs.
Kicker Daniel Hanks is 3-for-6 in extra point kicks. He has yet to attempt a field goal.
Logan is 4-1 all-time against Lincoln County. The only defeat was back in 2008 in the first-ever meeting as the Panthers won 28-7 over the Cats on a rainy night in Hamlin.
Mullins said it’s good to finally play at home.
After the preseason opener against Tug Valley on Aug. 17 at home, Logan went to play its second scrimmage at Ravenswood. Due to the closure of Route 10 the Wildcats then had to take the detour and the long way around to Man for the regular season opener on Aug. 30. Last week, Logan traveled more than two hours to Shady Spring in the Beckley area.
“We’ve been to Ravenswood. We took the long way around the mountain to Man and we’ve been to Shady but now we won’t have to leave Logan County for a month,” Mullins said. “We’re happy about that.”
After the Lincoln County game, LHS hosts Point Pleasant on Sept. 20, then goes to in-county Chapmanville on Sept. 27. After an open date on Oct. 4, Logan hits the road again on Oct. 11 with a trip to University in the Morgantown area.
The University game will be the last long road trip for Logan, which closes out the season with three home games and a short trip to nearby Mingo Central.
Logan’s 2013 Class of the Hall of Fame includes: Greg Bartram, Melissa Albright Fannin III, Alex Sabo, Wayne Eric Wagner and Whitey “The Brute” Estep.
The inductess will be honored on Thursday night at 6 p.m. during a banquet at the Logan Country Club. There will also be a golf outing at noon earlier in the day.
The new class will also be honored on Friday night before the game.
Logan-Lincoln County All-Time
Football Series (Logan leads 4-1):
2012: Logan 48, Lincoln County 0
2011: Logan 42, Lincoln County 20
2010: Logan 9, Lincoln County 6
2009: Logan 20, Lincoln County 6
2008: Lincoln County 28, Logan 7