LOGAN — To say the least, it’s been a tale of two seasons for the Chieftains.
Through their first four games, an injury-riddled Logan team had been outscored 141-69 (with nearly half of those points in a 32-27 win over winless Newark), had been held to minus-30 yards rushing by Loudonville, and was adjusting to life after their starting quarterback was injured in the third quarter of the season opener.
In that same stretch, the Chieftain defense had been riddled for school single-game records of 518 rushing yards (by Lancaster) and 469 passing yards (by Newark).
Things have turned around drastically over the last three games, however, especially as the defense has begun to stabilize. After allowing 453 total yards per game the first four weeks, the Chiefs have permitted 288.7 the last three games — not an eye-popping number, but steady improvement nonetheless.
Last week, the Chiefs adjusted to Jackson’s offense, which showed the Purple & White an unbalanced set, two tight ends unbalanced, and as many as eight offensive players on the line of scrimmage.
“There are a lot of gaps when you have eight guys on the line of scrimmage,” Burke noted. “They got us a couple times — they exploited some (Logan) alignments — but we tackled them (and) we made them snap it again. They only got in the end zone one time in the first half.
“We had to adjust a little bit on the fly,” he added. “We were playing a scheme that didn’t particularly match up really well (with the Ironmen), but we’ve made the best of it.”
The Chiefs saw three players get knocked out of the game due to injury and one, senior wide receiver/defensive back Nick Maniskas, is now out for the season with a leg injury. D-linemen Keith Martin and Charles Paulsen were also hurt, forcing the Chiefs to again shift personnel.
Senior Brock Emerson, who has primarily played on the offensive line this season, came on and was involved in 12 tackles — third behind Austin Scarberry (18) and Evan DeLong (14) — and helped out on a late-game quarterback sack that helped preserve the victory.
“Brock’s been a staple on the offensive line, so we don’t want to make him play a ton of snaps on defense,” Burke said, “but he was prepared if he had to step up and play a whole lot more.”
Burke also revealed that Emerson drank pickle juice to help alleviate some cramping.
“The coaches said he took a shot of pickle juice on the sideline from one of the trainers, which helped clear up the cramping situation,” Burke said with a chuckle, “so I guess we’ll keep some pickle juice in our pockets on the sidelines and if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.”
Paulsen will be ready to play against Zanesville while Martin will likely return next week for the Chiefs’ SEOAL showdown at Gallipolis.
Maniskas, meanwhile, only got to play in parts of three games before going down with a leg injury on Logan’s first offensive play against Jackson. He missed the first four games of the season.
One of three full-time captains, Maniskas watched while on crutches and supported his teammates as they pulled off their win over Jackson.
“That’s something Nick’s done all season,” Burke praised. “He’s always been available and always had his head in the practices or games. It says a lot about a guy who you were counting on who didn’t walk away.
“He’s still trying to have an impact, and he does have an impact, on things we do,” he added. “He’s a guy who knows what he’s doing and who is another coach out there.”
Muskingum contributors: A pair of former Chiefs are playing college football at Muskingum University in New Concord, not far from Zanesville, and recently became a part of Muskingum football history.
Juniors Garrett Clark and Nate Poling were part of the Muskingum team that earned the 500th victory in program history a couple weeks ago. Muskingum became the 41st school in NCAA Division III history to reach that milestone when the Muskies rallied from a 21-point second-half deficit to defeat Wilmington College in overtime, 35-28.
Poling is a wide receiver and Clark a running back for the Muskies. Both are 2011 LHS graduates.
Notable: Scarberry had two tackles for loss and five solo tackles among his 18 tackles against the Ironmen. … The Chiefs sacked Jackson quarterback Hunter Sexton six times, with Reggie Wesselhoeft logging two. … The Logan defense has intercepted 10 passes in seven games, one short of 11 pickoffs combined the last two seasons. … Unbeaten Loudonville (7-0), which beat the Chiefs in week four, is ranked No. 5 in this week’s state Division V poll. … Chillicothe’s departure from the SEOAL at the end of the 2012-13 school year opened the week eight slot on the schedule, where the Chiefs were able to fit in Zanesville. Ironically, until last week — when the Cavaliers lost 17-7 to current South Central Ohio League foe Clinton-Massie — the Cavaliers (6-1) were also undefeated. Chillicothe is ranked No. 9 in this week’s state AP Division III poll while Clinton-Massie (6-1) is No. 5 in Division IV.
On the road again: Having played five of their first seven games in Logan Chieftain Stadium — and the other two in nearby Lancaster and Nelsonville — the Chiefs will now play eight of their next 13 games, including the end of the current season and the entire 2014 season, on the road. Starting with Zanesville this Friday, the Chiefs also have road tilts at Gallipolis next Friday and Teays Valley, Meigs, Loudonville, Portsmouth, Jackson and Warren next season.