A sweet-dreams finish for the Chieftains
caps 3-0 finish after nightmarish 0-7 start
By CRAIG DUNN
LOGAN — A season that began as an absolute nightmare ended in sweet dreams for the Logan Chieftains.
Twenty-one days removed from a disastrous 0-7 start, the Purple & White brought one of the strangest, most-challenging seasons of high school football on record to an end by winning their final three games, capped off by Friday night’s 28-3 rout of visiting Teays Valley in Logan Chieftain Stadium.
“A weaker group of people would have given up a long time ago, but that’s just not who these young men are,” lauded Logan coach Mike Eddy, who concluded his second season at the helm of Chieftain Nation football. “They don’t give up and they don’t quit. They showed up and went to work every day and continued to get coached and continued to play hard.
“It was really (all about) finding something they believed in,” he added. Over the last three games “we started to play a little bit better on both sides of the ball and they started to believe in that that ‘yes, we can run the ball; yes, we can play some defense (and) we don’t have to give up 20-plus-points a week.’”
Logan was available because the Chiefs’ game scheduled for last night at Sheridan had to be canceled when the Generals reached the Division III regional semifinals. The previously-undefeated Generals (8-1) dropped a 10-6 decision at Columbus Hartley last night.
It was just Logan’s second victory in eight all-time meetings with Teays Valley, which had beaten the Purple & White four-consecutive times.
And, in another strange quirk to this COVID-addled season, Logan played more games (four, going 1-3) against Mid-State League Buckeye Division competition than did Teays Valley (three, going 2-1). Bloom-Carroll, which beat Logan 14-0 but didn’t play Teays Valley, won the division title.
The Vikings defeated MSL rival Logan Elm 31-25 in their season opener; four weeks later, the Braves blasted the Chiefs 48-21.
It was that kind of a season.
Fittingly, in the final home game of their careers, seniors scored all four Logan touchdowns.
Caden McCarty (157 yards on the ground) scored on runs of 70 and seven yards, Ian Frasure (82 yards) reached paydirt from 16 yards out and Henry Pierce scored the first varsity TD of his career on a 2-yard run. Sophomore Zach Chapin was a perfect 4-for-4 on PAT kicks.
What the 2020 Chieftains went through truly has to be put into perspective.
Yes, like all athletic teams not just in Ohio but around the country — and, for that matter, around the world — the Chiefs had to deal with all the issues and fallout associated with COVID-19. The fact they played a full 10-game schedule, which literally changed on the fly starting a couple weeks before the season to the very end, is truly remarkable.
When history looks back at the 2020 football season, that in itself might be the Chiefs’ biggest accomplishment.
But they also dealt with so many other issues both on and off the field.
They played (and lost 17-12) at Amanda-Clearcreek two days after an A-C student was killed in an automobile accident. They played at Logan Elm (and, as mentioned, lost 48-21) two days after an incident in their home stadium in which a woman from Marietta refused to put on a face covering that went viral, made national headlines and resulted in idiots from all over the nation making threats to the school, which was a major distraction to the team. They dealt with more than their share of injuries and strife and that was all before they suffered a 62-0 Division II playoff loss at Big Walnut that set a program single-game record for margin of defeat.
That all happened during an 0-7 start in which they were outscored 249-82 and were shut out twice.
But, playing their final three games at home (they ended up playing six of their 10 games at home when they were originally slated to play just four), they were in control nearly every minute those final three weeks in rolling past Columbus East (50-6), Maysville (26-13) and Teays Valley, outscoring those three foes 104-22.
Eddy was asked what the strong finish meant for the Chieftain football program.
“It means a lot (especially) to those underclassmen,” Eddy said. “One of them, (junior) Traten Poling, was coming off the field after ringing the victory bell and said ‘bigger, stronger, faster…we carry this on next year.’
“And that’s the mentality you want to bring into your off-season,” he added. “As we’ve talked before, we (coach Eddy and his players) haven’t had an off-season here together, so hopefully — fingers crossed — we actually get to have one, but right now that’s even still kind of up in the air.”
There are so many question marks associated with COVID that it’s hard to tell how the off-season, let alone the 2021 season, will look and how it will be formatted.
“What are we going to be permitted to do? How many guys at a time? What space? There’s still a lot of questions,” Eddy said. “If we’re going to have anything that looks normalized, right now the odds aren’t very good.
“But to be able to end the season with three-straight wins after everything these kids have been through,” he continued, “and for those underclassmen to be able to witness the mental toughness that goes into surviving some terrible situations — between COVID and injuries and losses and close losses and sometimes being the better team but not playing well — there’s so many lessons there that I hope those guys gained something from. Don’t just experience it, but grow from it. If they can do that, this springboards you into the next season.”
Last night’s season-ending victory helps, that’s for sure.
While the overall numbers weren’t dominating, they showed the Chiefs did a great job defensively, bottling up a run-oriented team to the tune of 139 ground yards while controlling the ball on offense and using their own ground game to near-perfection.
With McCarty and Frasure leading the way, the Purple & White rushed for 235 yards, with 39 of their 41 offensive plays being ground calls. Logan only threw two passes, with the lone completion — a 45-yard catch-and-run by senior Brandon Heft off a short pass from Frasure in the left flat — leading directly to Logan’s second touchdown.
“They’re a big, strong, physical football team. They hang their hat on that,” Eddy said of the Vikings, who finished their season with a losing record for the first time since 2014. “If you go ask them to describe themselves, that’s what they’re going to tell you. They’ll say ‘we’re strong, we’re physical and we’re going to run the football at you and you’re not going to be able to do anything about it.’ So we knew coming in that’s the kind of game it was going to be.
“I felt early on there was just too many run lanes inside,” he continued. “They went empty (backfield) and then came back and were running inside because we had just left us with a two-linebacker box and (the Vikings were) having success.”
That led to the Vikings taking the opening kickoff and driving 70 yards on 11 plays before settling for a 29-yard field goal by Cale Clifton that put the visitors in front a couple seconds less than six minutes into the contest.
“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t why they ever got away from it,” Eddy admitted, “but they went back to their two-back offense and power run (on their next series) because that’s who they are. That allowed us to put our three-linebacker box in there. We had made a couple adjustments in our secondary, played a little more man coverage so we could add a fourth guy to be a run-play playing linebacker, and we were able to play bend-but-don’t-break solid defense.
“Guys were in the right spot making plays,” he added. The Vikings “were still gaining yards, but we forced them to run another play, then run another play, then we would make a big play and put them in long-yardage situations (where) we could really take advantage of who they don’t want to be.”
Early in the second stanza, Logan took over at its own 25-yard line following a TV punt. Then, after a 5-yard penalty on the Vikings, McCarty busted a handoff through the line, cut down the left side and outran the TV defense for a 70-yard house call and a 7-3 Logan lead after Chapin booted the ensuing PAT with 9:05 left in the half.
Then, after Poling returned a Viking punt 17 yards to the Logan 21, Frasure and Heft hooked up on that 45-yard catch-and-run, with Heft tightroping the sideline in front of the Chieftain bench to reach the Teays Valley 34.
Moments later, Logan picked up a first down on a third-down play to the TV 12 when the Vikings were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. After Frasure picked up five yards, McCarty took a quick pitch to the right side, made a terrific quick-cut-on-a-dime back toward the line, and went the last seven yards to give the Chiefs a 14-3 lead that they took into the halftime break.
After a slow start, McCarty finished his season with 933 yards rushing on 168 carries and led the team in scoring with 80 points. Eleven of his 13 touchdowns were on the ground to go along with a receiving TD, a blocked-punt TD (he blocked five kicks, believed to be a school record), and a 2-point conversion.
“I thought we did a good job of adjusting during the game,” Eddy said. “That says a lot about not only our coaches but also the players understanding what we’re doing. We were making some changes on the fly right there before halftime and were executing them.
“Then we went in at halftime and literally all we did was draw up on the board what we had talked about to make sure,” he added. “They said ‘coach, we got it.’ That says a lot about our kids’ growth and their understanding.”
The Vikings only had three second-half possessions and they all came up empty.
They attempted a fake punt on fourth-and-seven from the Logan 42 early in the second half, snapping to the up-back, which Carson Hodson sniffed out and made the tackle for a four-yard loss.
The other two possessions ended with a punt and on downs, respectively, with Teays Valley never getting any closer to the Logan end zone than the LHS 36.
Frasure capped off a solid 10-play, 54-yard drive late in the third quarter with a terrific, weaving, in-and-out 16-yard scoring run, which basically all but clinched the win.
Midway through the final stanza, Pierce carried the ball for the only time in his varsity career as a reward for three seasons of terrific play along both the offensive and defensive lines and big No. 80 bulled his way into the end zone from two yards out.
“And hat’s off to coach (Jim) Huntsberger and the special teams units,” Eddy praised. “Our special teams have been good all year long, and again tonight stayed consistent. (Other than a misplaced kickoff) everything else was so solid. We had good plans and the kids executed extremely well.”
As prep football is so often billed as a sport that shows/reveals character and provides valuable life lessons for kids, it can be said the 2020 Chiefs dealt with enough adversity and learned enough life lessons that a cat’s proverbial nine lives wouldn’t be enough to process them all.
“I can’t say enough positive things about the way this football season ended for these young men,” Eddy said. “I can’t say enough about this senior class and what they endured and what they achieved at the end of it. I am so proud of them.”
Sweet dreams, Chieftains.
Logan 28, Teays Valley 3
Teays Valley 3 0 0 0— 3
Logan 0 14 7 7—28
TV: Cale Clifton 29 field goal, 6:02, 1Q
Logan: Caden McCarty 70 run (Zach Chapin kick), 9:05, 2Q
Logan: McCarty 7 run (Chapin kick), 2:58, 2Q
Logan: Ian Frasure 16 run (Chapin kick), 1:07, 3Q
Logan: Henry Pierce 2 run (Chapin kick), 7:02, 4Q
Team Statistics TV LO
First Downs 14 14
Offensive Plays 49 41
Rushes-Yards 34-139 39-235
Passing Yards 50 45
Total Yards 189 280
Passes 7-15-0 1-2-0
Punts-Avg. 3-39.7 2-33.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-58 4-40
Possession 23:08 24:52
Rushing — Logan: Caden McCarty 22-157 2TD, Ian Frasure 13-82 1TD, Henry Pierce 1-2 1TD, Traten Poling 2-(-5), team 1-(-1). TV leaders: Peyton Weiler 11-55, Camden McDanel 7-32, Hunter Young 5-28.
Passing — Logan: Ian Frasure 1-2-0—45. TV: Matthew Farmer 7-14-0—50, Peyton Weiler 0-1-0—0.
Receiving — Logan: Brandon Heft 1-45. TV leaders: Sam Speakman 2-37, Eli Burgett 2-18.