LOGAN — Billy Burke became head coach of the Logan Chieftains by working his way through a arduous interview process.
So, when it came time to choose captains for his first Logan football team, he adapted some of that process into electing them.
Seniors Nick Maniskas, Austin Scarberry and Dennis Smathers were elected by their peers — and the coaching staff — to speak for the Purple & White this fall. A fourth captain joins them on a weekly basis based on merit from the previous week.
"Choosing captains is a process — a lot like applying for, or interviewing for, a job in your professional career," said Burke. "I told the kids they were going through about what I went through when I interviewed and applied for the job."
All varsity players — not just seniors — were welcome to apply.
"If you're going to go through this process and sell yourself, you obviously want to be a captain," he added. "Therefore (as a player) my vote might be different because I'm hearing (that player's) opinion about being a captain."
Applicants received a packet of information which included an application form. Players were then required to submit references and a letter of intent.
"They did a little research (as to what references and letters of intent were) and they submitted those things," Burke said. "Two days later, they stood up in front of the team and told the team why they thought they deserved to be a captain.
Other players "were encouraged to ask questions of those guys who were standing in front of them," Burke said, "and the coaches did as well. Essentially, each kid who applied for the captain's job got one really tough question, usually from me."
Players voted after the Circleville scrimmage "and they had one more opportunity to sell themselves out on the field as captains," Burke stated.
All varsity players voted, as did all of the coaches. Burke said each coach's vote was weighted as two votes apiece, and each player got one vote.
As returning lettermen and acknowledged team leaders, Maniskas and Scarberry weren't really a surprise... but Smathers was.
"Realistically, (Smathers) isn't going to play a whole lot, but he's been a real inspiration to everybody else," Burke praised. "He got a substantial amount of votes because of the energy, enthusiasm and love of the game he's brought.
"It's not always just about what you're doing on the field," he added, "but what are you doing to contribute to the success of the team in general."
All three captains admitted the interview process was a challenge.
"The application (process) was different," Maniskas said, "and getting up in front of the team and talking, I had never done that before. It was hard. I didn't like talking in front of everyone. But it taught me (how) to speak in front of people, and I know now how to fill out an application and a letter of intent."
"I had never filled out a job application or anything like that," Scarberry recalled. "I got to experience that. Talking in front of the team is not that big of a deal; it's my team (and) they're like family. I can tell them when they mess up (and) they can get mad at me, but we'll all get over it."
As a captain who doesn't play much, Smathers makes sure that he is involved in other ways.
"I've applied for many jobs (and) I have a job," Smathers said. "It makes me realize that hard work really pays off. I don't get to play a whole lot on Friday nights, but the experience is something different. I've learned a lot from it. It was a very unique process.
"I just make sure people are in the right spots, people are paying attention to what team goes in next, (that) everybody's ready and the morale of the team is up," he added.
And that's exactly how Burke envisioned Smathers' role.
Shortly after school dismissed for the 2012-13 year, several of the seniors went on a team-bonding rafting trip with their new head coach.
"When we went rafting, we did a senior leadership (seminar) with the seniors, went through a textbook and had some presentations by myself and the kids," Burke revealed. "The very first thing we talked about was the Arizona Wildcats (basketball team) of 1988. The most valuable player, as voted by the team, was a freshman who never played, but he practiced very hard and made sure all the guys out on the court always knew what they needed to know to be successful.
"That, to me, is sort of the role Dennis plays," he continued. "He makes sure everybody is as prepared as he can possibly get them, even though he might not get the opportunity to be out there on the field with them."
It's been a tough start to the season for the 1-3 Chiefs, but all three seniors stress that the buck stops with the players.
"It's been horrible just sitting there and watching and not being able to do anything," said Maniskas, who has dealt with a back injury all season but will finally get to play this Friday at Nelsonville-York. It's tough "not being able to be out there with your team, your family, and not being able to help."
"As much as I'd like to, we can't blame it on the injuries," Scarberry added. "We can't blame it on (anyone else). We have to deal with the fact we've lost these games. We have to understand that, even though we've lost these games, we can overcome (and) I feel like we're getting on the right track."
So does Smathers.
"We've had adversity in the past," Smathers said, "but this year is different because we (seniors) have the reigns. This year is under our control... the seniors as a whole."
And the captains are taking a hands-on approach to what they were elected to do.
Move over, Ron Burgundy: Jaush Huntsberger played for the football Chieftains, graduated from Logan High School, and last season served as anchor of "Gridiron Glory," WOUB-TV's Friday night high school football highlights program.
The Ohio University graduate has moved up in his chosen profession.
Huntsberger has landed a part-time position as weekend sports anchorman at WTAP, the NBC-TV affiliate in Parkersburg, W.Va.
He'll be in the field on Friday nights for the station's high school football coverage starting this weekend and then, beginning next weekend, will anchor the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 p.m. Sunday sports telecasts