Camp, 7-on-7 passing scrimmages signal approach of football season
LOGAN — One thing is certain as the Logan Chieftains gear up for the upcoming football season: 2015 will be a season of change.
Six weeks from tonight, the Purple & White open their season by playing a non-league game at Athens, marking the first time in more than a decade that Lancaster won’t be their opening-night foe.
It will also be Logan’s first game against their one-time arch-rival since Athens High School departed the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League after the 2007-08 school year.
And this may be the final season for the SEOAL — at least the remnants of the SEOAL as we’ve all known it for 91 years — as Logan makes one last football foray to Gallipolis to face ancient rival Gallia Academy. More on all that later.
For now, it’s time for the annual Logan Chieftains Football Camp, which will be held next Monday through Thursday in Logan Chieftain Stadium.
The registration fee is $25 per student ($20 if attending other Logan camps this summer) and registration can be made both in advance and on the first day of camp on Monday. All campers will receive a camp T-shirt and can take part in a punt, pass and kick contest.
Entry forms are available on the Logan-Hocking Schools website, in the Logan High School athletic office, and at loganfb.blogspot.com.
A couple 7-on-7 passing scrimmages are also on tap next week when Logan hosts Hamilton Ross next Tuesday and Lancaster, Marietta and Alexander next Friday.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association now has a standardized date of Aug. 1 for the beginning of football practice. Since that date falls on a Saturday this year, the Chieftains — under the direction of third-year head coach Billy Burke — will wait and open practice Monday, Aug. 3.
Logan’s practices aren’t necessarily the two-a-day, morning/evening sessions of years gone by. The Chiefs practice from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Aug. 3 through Aug. 13 — with the exception of a Sunday (Aug. 9) off-day and an Aug. 11 scrimmage against Bloom-Carroll — before school starts.
The first full-contact day with pads and helmets — the sixth day of practice — is Saturday, Aug. 8.
The Chiefs scrimmage B-C (which replaces longtime pre-season foe Logan Elm) at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11 in Logan Chieftain Stadium and venture to Circleville for their second practice tilt Friday, Aug. 14.
The annual OHSAA Jamboree exhibition scrimmage is Friday, Aug. 21 (7 p.m. varsity start) in Logan Chieftain Stadium, setting the table for the Chiefs’ season opener Friday, Aug. 28 at Athens.
With the exception of a mid-season game at Shadyside — which was set this spring to fill a hole on the schedule of both teams — the Chiefs don’t have to deal with the daunting amount of travel they faced last fall while putting together a 5-5 record and finishing runner-up in the SEOAL.
For the first half of the season, the Purple & White either play in Logan Chieftain Stadium — week two vs. Teays Valley (Sept. 4), week three vs. Meigs (Sept. 11) and week four vs. Cambridge (Sept. 18) — or make short trips to Athens and Nelsonville-York (week five, Sept. 25).
The Shadyside game in week six (Oct. 2) is the only trip that compares to last year’s rugged road slate. Logan played six away games — and traveled nearly 800 round-trip miles in so doing — last fall, including two-hour-plus treks to Loudonville and Portsmouth. Those teams are no longer on Logan’s schedule.
Shadyside is a one-season agreement. There will not be a return game in 2016.
Logan’s season of change includes four teams — Athens, Cambridge, Shadyside and Columbus St. Francis DeSales (week eight, Oct. 16) — that were not on the ’14 slate. Cambridge and Shadyside are first-time foes while Athens and DeSales are back on the schedule after extended absences.
And then there are Logan’s three remaining conference foes: Jackson (week seven, Oct. 9); at Gallia Academy (week nine, Oct. 23), and Warren (week 10, Oct. 30).
Gallipolis — like Logan and Jackson, a charter SEOAL member dating back to 1925 — leaves the SEOAL at the end of the 2015-16 school year to join former conference members Portsmouth and Ironton and five Lawrence County schools in the Ohio Valley Conference. Scheduling conflicts will likely keep Logan and GAHS from playing again, or at least for the near future.
Starting next season, Logan, Jackson and Warren will continue to compete as SEOAL foes and crown a league champion until one of the three finds a permanent home in another league.
Winning a conference title — and the Purple & White know they have to go through defending champion Jackson to do so — thus takes on additional meeting for the Chieftains this fall.
The Chiefs would like to attain their 27th crown. Jackson has 23, Gallipolis 17 and Warren one, with the Warriors’ lone title being part of a three-way split with Gallipolis and Jackson in 1995.
Logan graduated 14 seniors from its 2014 club, with three of that team’s five losses coming to teams that made the post-season playoffs: Loudonville (Division VI), Jackson (DIII) and Teays Valley (DII). The other two setbacks were to teams — Lancaster (DI, 7-3) and Zanesville (DII, 5-5) — who won at least half of their games.
Zanesville is the other 2014 foe not on Logan’s 2015 schedule.
The teams Logan will play this fall combined for a 75-39 record — a whopping .658 winning percentage — in 2014, with all but Warren (1-9) winning at least four games.
Six opponents (Athens, Teays Valley, N-Y, Shadyside, Jackson and DeSales) were playoff participants. They combined to play 14 post-season games, including a run to the state DIII finals by Athens.
DeSales eliminated previously-undefeated Jackson 24-14 in the second round of the DIII tournament before Athens blasted DeSales in a regional final played in Logan Chieftain Stadium.
The Bulldogs went 14-1 under quarterback Joe Burrow — now an Ohio State redshirt freshman — who was named Ohio’s Mr. Football after the Bulldogs dropped a 56-52 heartbreaker to Toledo Central Catholic in the state D3 finals.
Though Burrow and his primary receiving targets have graduated after leading the Bulldogs to a state single-season record of 861 points, Athens will still be a more-than-solid opening-week foe for the Purple & White. The two teams will meet for the first time since 2007, when the Chiefs rolled to a 62-6 road win.
All but two of Logan’s 10 varsity games start at 7 p.m. The only 7:30 kickoffs are opening night at Athens and week five at N-Y.
As always, The Logan Daily News will again offer comprehensive Chieftain football coverage — both in print and online at logandaily.com — beginning with preview stories the week leading up to the Aug. 28 opener at Athens.