LOGAN — From 2004 to 2009, when the Chieftains were riding their record 34-game Southeastern Ohio Athletic League football winning streak, there were very few scenarios in which it could be imagined the Purple & White would not emerge with a title.
Like most of those Logan teams, the 2013 Chiefs are in total control of their championship destiny as the season winds down. All they need to do is win Friday at Gallipolis, and next Friday in their home and season finale against Warren, to take the title outright.
The scenario is simple; achieving the desired results will be anything but
There could be at least a three-way tie for the league lead — and, possibly, a four-way deadlock atop the standings — going into week 10. However, there won’t be a four-way tie for the championship, which has only happened once (1990) in conference history.
Okay, here goes:
If Gallipolis knocks off Logan, and if Warren beats Portsmouth in its home finale Friday night, there would be a four-way tie between Logan, Gallipolis, Jackson and Warren (all at 2-1) entering week 10; if Portsmouth defeats Warren — and remember, the Trojans can put a lot of points on the scoreboard — it would still be a three-way tie.
If four teams are tied after Friday night, it would set up what amounts to two championship games next week. The winners of next Friday’s Warren at Logan and Gallipolis at Jackson season finales would then share the conference championship.
If Gallipolis beats Logan and Portsmouth beats Warren, next Friday’s Gallipolis-Jackson winner would win the title outright if Warren knocks off Logan that same evening. Thus, Logan, Gallipolis and Jackson can still win the title outright; Warren can only tie.
When all is said and done, however, for the Chiefs it all comes down to what the late Al Davis, the longtime owner of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, used to say: “Just win, baby.”
Injury report: A handful of players either sat out, or had their playing time limited, at Zanesville due to lingering hurts, bumps and bruises.
Defensive linemen Keith Martin and Gabe Smith, who did not dress for Zanesville, will be game-time decisions this week.
High-scoring SEOAL: In six conference games, the five SEOAL teams have combined to score 386 points — a whopping 64 combined points per game — and it’s Portsmouth (95), the one team that’s mathematically out of the league championship race, that leads the way, followed by Logan (82), Jackson (82), Gallipolis (76) and Warren (51).
The Trojans have been hurt, big-time, on defense this season, allowing 135 points (45 per game) in three conference tilts, all losses. Logan (48) has the best scoring defense in the league, followed by Warren (56), Jackson (67), Gallipolis (80) and Portsmouth.
Playoffs unlikely for SEOAL: It appears that, for the first time since 2005, the SEOAL champion will not make the post-season playoffs.
The Chiefs hold the distinction of winning the league in 2005 — the year before the conference’s ill-fated expansion to 10 schools — and not making the post-season despite going 8-2 overall and 5-0 in the SEOAL.
However, Logan was a Division I school that season; had the Chiefs been in Division II, where they have been since 2007, they would have been a playoff team in ’05 as well.
Since Logan’s four-season run (2006-2009) of playoff appearances (and subsequent league championships) ended, conference champs Jackson (2010 and 2011) and Gallipolis (2012) also reached week 11.
While all five teams are still mathematically in the chase, basketball practice will likely start on time for all of them.
Warren (3-5 and ranked No. 12 in Division IV Region 13), which has never earned an invitation to the post-season party, is the league’s highest-ranked team and could get in at 5-5… but schools such as Steubenville (5-3), John Glenn (5-3), Columbus Watterson (2-5) and Wintersville Indian Creek (5-3) would all likely have to lose both of their remaining games, which is highly, highly unlikely.
(Yes, with just two victories — and a bye week to boot — Watterson is tenth in the region, two slots above the Warriors, with a legitimate shot at the playoffs).
Gallipolis (5-3, No. 15 in DIV Region 14) would have a difficult time leapfrogging six teams to reach eighth place, the finally qualifying position.
Jackson (4-4, No. 17 in Division III Region 9) is still mathematically alive, and even Portsmouth (2-6, No. 17 in Division V Region 17) is still in the hunt, but only in the sheer outer reaches of mathematics.
The Chiefs (No. 19 in Division II Region 5) are still alive as well, but their playoff hopes were all but dashed with last week’s 58-13 defeat at Zanesville, now the top-ranked school in DII Region 5.
Logan football historian Spencer Waugh also points out that the last time the SEOAL failed to place at least one team in the playoffs was 1998 when Logan and Jackson shared the SEOAL title… the last season in which only four teams qualified per region for the playoffs.
That season, Logan was seventh in Division I, Region 3 while Jackson was fifth in Division III, Region 11. Both Jackson and Logan would have qualified in the same regions if the playoffs had qualified the top eight teams instead of the top four.
State AP rankings: While the computer rankings to determine post-season playoff qualifiers are, obviously, far more important than the state Associated Press rankings, it’s still interesting to note that undefeated Zanesville, Loudonville and Athens are still all in the top five of their respective divisions. Zanesville is No. 3 in DII, Loudonville No. 4 in DV and Athens No. 5 in DIII.
Zanesville (home against 1-7 River View and at 2-6 Marietta) should easily win out — and secure an opening-round home game in so doing — but both Loudonville and Athens face stiff tests this week.
Loudonville hosts another 8-0 team, Caledonia River Valley (No. 4 in this week’s state DIV poll), in a showdown of unbeatens Friday night. The winner clinches a post-season berth, and Loudonville should reach the post-season even with a loss.
And Friday night’s meeting of two future Logan non-league foes, Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division rivals Athens and Meigs, should be quite interesting as well. The Bulldogs have steamrolled all of their opponents and haven’t really been tested all season; Meigs (6-2), which is No. 9 in Division IV Region 14, could make quite a statement — and possibly reach the post-season playoffs — by pulling off an upset at Athens.
November football in Logan?: There’s a great chance Logan Chieftain Stadium could host multiple neutral-site playoff games in weeks 12 and 13… and maybe even beyond.
The best bets are in DIII Region 9 (with Columbus Marion-Franklin, Athens, Columbus Brookhaven, Logan Elm, Chillicothe, Dover, New Philadelphia, Tri-Valley, Granville, Millersburg West Holmes and Columbus DeSales in the mix) and in DV Region 17 (with Columbus Hartley, Wheelersburg, St. Clairsville, Martins Ferry, Liberty Union, Fairland, Westfall, South Point, Portsmouth West, Ross Southeastern, Frankfort Adena and even 2-6 Ironton among the contenders). Logan will likely be a perfect site for several second-round and regional final games involving those schools.
And just throwing this one out there: if Wheelersburg (8-0) wins Region 17, and Loudonville wins Region 16, Logan would be close to the midway point for those schools to play a Thanksgiving weekend state Division V semifinal game. Loudonville is 97 miles from Logan; Wheelersburg, 75.
Divisions II, III, IV and VI play on Friday nights this season while divisions I, V and VII are contested on Saturdays.