Chieftain notebook: Funky kickoffs give foes something more to prepare for
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By CRAIG DUNN Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
LOGAN — The cat is out of the bag.
The Logan Chieftains caught the Athens Bulldogs by surprise with a semi-onside kickoff after scoring on their opening offensive series last Friday night. The Purple & White recovered and immediately scored again to take a 13-0 lead before the Athens offense even stepped onto the field.
When all was said and done, that 13-0 lead proved to be the difference in a 61-49 Logan victory. Although the Bulldogs eventually caught up and tied the game (27-27) late in the first half, the Chiefs came back with two more quick scores to take the lead for good; Athens only had possession with a chance to take the lead one more time the rest of the way.
With a combination of seniors Isaiah Smith and Lane Little and junior T.J. Meyer oftentimes standing side-by-side on kickoffs, one or the other would kick at the last second. Sometimes it went long; sometimes it went short, and other times it careened into open space. That’s what happened when Kyle Jacobsen recovered the aforementioned semi-onside kick.
Teams don’t get much — if any — scouting material in regards to their opponents’ kicking game during pre-season scrimmages. Pre-season kicking and special teams work is mostly done behind the scrimmage scenes.
“I’m pretty sure that’s in the back of every coach’s mind going into the first game,” Burke said of Logan’s successful kick in the first stanza, “and if you can establish some sort of momentum with something nobody’s seen — the kicking game’s not something we see from an opponent based upon scrimmages — that’s a bag of tricks you can hold in your pocket.”
But one coach’s bag of tricks is another coach’s simple reality.
“I wouldn’t call that a part of our ‘bag of tricks’ simply because that’s designed into our kickoff team, to be able to put the ball into different locations,” Burke stated. “It’s certainly a momentum swing to go down and score and get the ball back and score again.”
What it also does is force future Chieftain foes to devote an extra 10 or 15 minutes of precious practice time to prepare for such situations.
Record book revisions: In reaching a state championship game for the first time in school history last fall, the Joe Burrow-led Bulldogs rewrote not only the school record book but the state record book as well.
The 861 points Athens scored last season, for example, are an all-time state single-season record for any football team in any division.
Last Friday night’s wild 61-49 season opener at Athens High School’s Scott Riggs & Family Stadium resulted in several revisions of the Logan record book as well. There were records broken, tied and approached.
Here are some of those numbers as researched and compiled by Logan football historian Spencer Waugh of loganfootball.com:
Broken: 110 total points (previous record was 96 — Logan 76, Marietta 20 — in 2007); 649 yards of total offense (previous record was 614 vs. Athens in 2006); fourth career 100-plus yard receiving game by Smith (breaking a three-way tie for the most 100-plus yards receiving games in school history with Mason Mays and D.J. Conrad, each of whom had three).
Tied: 27 team first downs (Logan had 27 vs. Athens in 1987) and 26 first downs allowed to Athens (Zanesville also had 26 in 2013)
Approached and noteworthy: 61 points scored (fourth-most in a season opener; Logan scored 78 against Nelsonville in 1915); 49 points allowed (third-most points allowed in a season opener: Athens scored 59 in 1919 and Lancaster 57 in 2013).
Bryce McBride, Little and Smith are all getting additional lines in the record book.
McBride’s 328 rushing yards are second all-time (Austin Rohr had 398 vs. Marietta in 2003), and it marked just the third 300-yard rushing game in school history. Greg Crossley ran for 302 against Warren in 1992.
McBride needs 365 yards to crack 2,000 career rushing yards, something only 12 other Chieftains have ever done. It was his third 200-yards-plus career game, tying him for fifth all-time (Rohr and Justin Frye both had six and John Cosgrove and Cory McCarty each had four).
Little is currently tied for sixth in all-time career touchdown passes (17) and had his fourth 200-yard passing game last week, tying him for fourth all-time with Chad Zimmerman.
Smith now has 13 career touchdown receptions, third all-time behind Mays (25) and Conrad (18). He also became the seventh player to catch three TD passes in a single game; Eric Cox holds the record with four in a game against River Valley in 1994.
Smith has caught at least one pass in 17 consecutive games, third all-time behind Mays (24, 2008-09) and Isaac Lindsey (20, 2010-11).
Times have (or haven’t?) changed: The last time the Chiefs and Bulldogs met back in 2007, Logan scored 62 points in a 62-7 rout. Eight years later, the Purple & White threw 61 on the board in whipping the ‘Dogs for a 13th-consecutive time and beating them for the 50th time (Logan’s most wins against any all-time foe) since 1912.
Saturday’s reserve and freshman games certainly didn’t come close to approaching 110 total points, but Logan made it a three-game weekend sweep. The Logan junior varsity blanked Athens 6-0 and the Chieftain freshmen defeated Philo 14-8 in Logan Chieftain Stadium.