| || |
Logan limits Shadyside to just 104 total yards, chalks first shutout in five years in defeating Tigers 28-0
By CRAIG DUNN Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
SHADYSIDE, Ohio — Playing for the first-time ever in Shadyside — a hardscrabble, blue-collar town hard by the Ohio River in extreme eastern Ohio — it was only fitting that the Logan Chieftains would put together a workman-like effort to remain undefeated.
Logan’s defense has taken its lumps this season, but Friday night it limited the host Tigers to just 104 total yards and a paltry seven first downs as the Purple & White shut out the host Belmont Countians 28-0.
Shadyside (1-5) never seriously threatened to score as the Chiefs (6-0), ranked No. 8 in this week’s Associated Press Division II state poll, put on their work gear, grabbed their lunch buckets and dominated on a cool, wet, breezy night at Fleming Field.
It was Logan’s first defensive shutout in five years. The last time Logan blanked an opponent, it was another team of Tigers — those from Marietta — by a 13-0 count on Sept. 24, 2010.
Chieftain defense dominates in eastern Ohio
Head coach Billy Burke — who doubles as the team’s defensive coordinator — took a different tact with the defense Friday night. With Shadyside having exhibited a number of different offensive looks and schemes throughout the season, he left it to his players to read the Tiger offense and call their own defensive plays.
“I was happy that we took it upon ourselves defensively… I didn’t make but two or three calls,” Burke revealed. “Everything else was guys on the field: ‘this is what you go to vs. this formation or this personnel grouping.’ You check to it, you know what to do, and you go execute it. I was happy with the way we did that.”
The Logan defense certainly did the job. Shadyside punted on six of its nine possession and the Chiefs intercepted passes on the other three.
Riley Nelson picked off two errant throws and Smith had the other as the Tigers crossed the midfield stripe just three times. Shadyside, which has scored just 26 points all season and has now been blanked three times, never penetrated any deeper than the Logan 33-yard line.
“We seemed to execute the way it supposed to be executed,” Burke praised. “A lot of times, lack of success on defense is part of not lining up correctly so you get out-leveraged and you don’t perform your assignment correctly. I think we did a much better job of that tonight.”
The Chiefs took command on their second offensive series.
On the fourth play of what turned out to be a 57-yard scoring drive, Little threw deep toward the near left pylon for Smith, who out-jumped a Shadyside defender and hauled in the pass. It didn’t look like he got in the end zone, but the officials granted a 27-yard scoring play with 4:56 left in the opening period despite the protests of Shadyside head coach Mark Holenka.
After forcing a Shadyside punt, the Purple & White put together an impressive 14-play, 90-yard scoring drive that lasted more than six minutes and spilled over from the first quarter to the second.
Little personally kept the drive in motion when, forced to scramble, he raced to his left to keep the play alive — as he so often does — and then came back to the right to turn a potential loss into a 24-yard gain to the Shadyside 31.
McBride carried the ball five-straight times and pounded his way into the end zone with 8:16 left in the second period for a 14-0 lead after Stu Harper converted the second of his four successful extra-point kicks.
Harper, a goalkeeper for the Logan soccer team, is now 9-of-10 in kicking PATs since joining the team prior to last week’s game at Nelsonville-York.
Another Shadyside punt on the ensuing possession resulted in a Logan scoring drive, though this one only needed five plays to cover 76 yards.
That’s because Little hooked up with a wide-open Smith on a short hitch pass to the left side and the elusive senior receiver — who finished the night with six receptions and 125 yards — eluded a couple Tiger defenders and outraced the rest of the defense 62 yards to paydirt with 1:42 remaining in the half.
Nelson intercepted a Billy Johnson pass and returned it 32 yards to the Shadyside 25 with under 30 seconds remaining in the half but Logan was unable to convert the miscue into points.
The Chiefs got into Shadyside territory three times in the third quarter and appeared to have a touchdown negated by a quick whistle when, facing fourth-and-inches from the Shadyside 10, Little took the ball on a quarterback sneak and broke free out of the scrum into the end zone with 3:27 left in the period. The men in stripes, however, blew the play dead, waved off the TD and marked the ball short of a first down.
Logan got that score back on its next possession, however.
After a short Shadyside punt, Logan needed just three plays to cover 31 yards, the last 25 coming when Little almost fell down in the backfield but recovered to find a wide-open McBride — who had slipped out of the backfield almost unnoticed — near the right sideline at the 15-yard line. McBride made a quick cut into the end zone to make it 28-0 as time expired in the period.
It was also a productive night in that the Chiefs were able to get a lot of players into the game and were also able to limit time on the field for some two-way players. McBride, who gained 97 yards and cleared the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season, only carried 17 times.
“We rested (lineman) Eddie (Lanning), and we unfortunately had two defensive players who were not able to play tonight,” Burke pointed out. “We put some sophomores in tonight. And (senior) Brian Black was eligible after sitting out five games as a transfer and he came ready to play.
“Guys did their jobs tonight just like we expect,” he added, “and this is what you want at this point of the season. You want to be peaking at the right time, and going into league play we’re starting to peak. Guys who make plays for us continue to make plays and other guys are starting to pick up their game and prove they belong out on the field, too. So going into this next week I’m happy with where we are.”
And the Chiefs certainly didn’t let the long two-and-a-half-hour bus ride detract from their performance, either.
“We’ve already had our detractable moments — the late start (the nearly two-hour weather delay at the beginning of the week-two Teays Valley game), our Meigs game (a late come-from-behind win) — and when you get a senior-led, senior-dominant team, guys who have played a lot of football, they know ultimately the responsibility is on their shoulders.
“I said (to the players) at halftime, if you’re me — and I pointed to a couple different players — what would you be saying at halftime?” he continued. “They said the old coaching clichés that ‘it’s 0-0. We have to keep our foot on the gas.’ We all know that… now it’s up to the guys on the field to execute and do what you said.”
While the Chiefs left a couple scoring opportunities on the table, this night was more about defensive efficiency and working hard to make sure Shadyside was never in the game.
“Yeah, I would like to have seen us get a couple more scores in the second half,” Burke said, “but we got (senior) Corey Wilson some opportunities to run the football (and) got other guys some good experience. We feel comfortable with different guys contributing if they need to.
“I’ve been happy with the way we’ve utilized our personnel,” he continued. “That’s part of the battle in high school: sometimes you just don’t have anybody left and guys have to play out of position. We’re trying to build some depth and some opportunities for guys to be on the field (while) keeping guys from playing too much and (having them) ready for the stretch run.”
And that stretch run includes two huge games the next two weeks: a showdown with defending Southeastern Ohio Athletic League champion Jackson next Friday in Logan Chieftain Stadium and a non-conference game at Columbus DeSales the following week. Both games have post-season playoff implications.
Both Jackson and DeSales are 5-1, with their only losses being to undefeated Wheelersburg and Lancaster, respectively.
“It’s the biggest game any of these kids have played in,” Burke said of the pending clash with Jackson. “None of (the Logan players) have playoff experience, so it’s the biggest game short of a league championship game or a playoff game. This is as big as it gets. We’ll see if the winner of this game ends up being league champs.”