Chieftains break into the victory column
By CRAIG DUNN
LOGAN — Thankfully, a difficult season in which they’ve had to deal with tragedy, national controversy, injuries and the ongoing COVID pandemic won’t include a winless football season for the Logan Chieftains.
The Purple & White finally broke loose and got a chance to ring the victory bell Friday night as 30 first-quarter points powered Logan to a 50-6 rout of visiting Columbus East in Logan Chieftain Stadium.
Unlike last week, the Chiefs found themselves on the good side of program history as they didn’t attempt an official forward pass for just the sixth time since records began being kept in 1912.
Caden McCarty rushed for 174 yards on 16 carries and scored four times as Logan (1-7) won its first game of the season, and in so doing snapped an eight-game losing streak dating back to the 2019 season finale.
Logan simply dominated a game that was just added to the schedule a few days earlier to fill an open slot on the schedule for both teams (Logan had originally been slated to visit Meigs before the Marauders canceled out) after they were eliminated from the Division II and Division IV playoffs, respectively, last weekend.
Logan has never gone winless in a full football season (the Chiefs were 0-1-1 in the strike-shortened 1978 season) and last night the Chiefs made sure that won’t change.
Thus the Chiefs now have a “1” in the “W” column during a season dotted by tragedy (an Amanda-Clearcreek student was killed in a traffic accident two days before Logan visited the Aces) in week two; controversy (Logan was routed at Logan Elm two days after the infamous mask incident at a junior high game in Logan Chieftain Stadium made national headlines) in week five; a rash of injuries and, of course, all of the fallout and uncertainty of COVID.
Irony also reared its head (in a good way) in Chieftain Nation.
The last time a Logan football team didn’t attempt a single pass was in a 34-13 victory at Portsmouth back in 2012, on a night that Caden’s older brother, Cory, rushed for 270 yards and three touchdowns. Logan quarterback Caleb Lewellen managed the Purple & White to victory that night without throwing a single pass.
And, also ironically, that ’12 win also snapped an extensive season-opening losing streak which stood at five games before winning down on the Ohio River.
Logan coach Mike Eddy was both proud of, and relieved for, his team…not just for the victory, but for persevering and refusing to give up.
“It (means a lot), and not just winning the football game,” Eddy said, “but in getting a little bit of that excitement back around the program and the kids knowing we still have a couple more football games to play. They have opportunities to finish the season in a strong way and on a positive note.”
After being totally dominated last week, it was the Chieftains who did the dominating Friday night. And the Purple & White also took full advantage of East benching three of its key starters for the opening quarter, including quarterback Malachi Williams.
While all 311 of Logan’s total yards came on the ground, East was held to negative-3 rushing yards and finished with only 138 yards of total offense, getting 54 of its 141 aerial yards on a touchdown pass from Williams to Ishmeal Spann-Bowers in the waning seconds of the second quarter.
By then, Logan had already built a commanding 44-0 lead, scoring easily on all seven of its offensive possessions through early in the third quarter.
The Chiefs only ran 33 plays from scrimmage and scored on seven of them. They also never had to punt the ball away the entire evening.
“There were a couple of things tonight,” Eddy noted. “Number one, we moved Quinn Walsh from linebacker down to D-tackle because we still have a lot of injuries up front. He’s our most-experienced linebacker. We weren’t sure how that experiment was going to go, but we knew that physically he could hold his own on the D-line. We had some younger linebackers who were starting show some promise so we wanted to see what happens. I thought that adjustment went well this week.
“And the other thing was, before the game tonight, there was a different energy,” he added. “We talked about adversity, what it does to you, how you respond to it and what you focus on. Too many times when you’re in that dark place it’s easy to focus on what’s bad and what’s wrong and you forget about what your strengths are and what you’re grateful for.”
And Eddy revealed that this season has been just as tough on him as it has been his players.
“I shared a little bit of my message with those guys tonight because that’s kind of where I’ve been these last few weeks,” admitted Logan’s second-year head coach. “I got some great advice from some good friends and basically (talked about) just change your outlook and what you are focused on.
“I thought these guys did a great job right from the beginning of the game being focused on the good things about this team, being focused on their strengths and having some energy when you play.”
Logan scored just 37 seconds into the game in bang-bang-bang fashion, with Jonny McClelland nearly breaking the opening kickoff for six points but settling for a 26-yard return to the East 49-yard line. Two carries by McCarty, the latter a weaving 29-yarder through the left side of the East line and back across the middle, put Logan in front for good.
Quarterback Ian Frasure than ran for a 2-point conversion. The rout was on.
With some of their better players temporarily sidelined, the Tigers struggled to even punt the ball away. Carson Hodson deflected a couple punts and Cody Carrell blocked another as the Tigers simply couldn’t escape their side of midfield.
“We knew (East) was a very talented football team if we allowed them to gain momentum,” Eddy said. “We knew they were going to feed off that, so we knew we needed to start quick and we were able to do that.
“I praised (first-year head coach Michael Bell) after the game for really sticking to his morals,” he added. “He sat three really good football players in the first quarter and literally had to change their offense because of it, but he’s trying to do the right things and teach young men valuable lessons. I praise him for his courage in doing that. Does it change the outcome of the game? Probably not, but it put his team in a bad spot to start and I think that’s important because we are still teaching lessons here.”
McCarty scored again on a 1-yard run with 7:09 left in the opening stanza and Frasure connected with Easton Castle on the ensuing 2-point conversion pass to make it 16-0.
Since conversions don’t count on official plays or yardage because they are not timed and are not considered as downs, that pass doesn’t show up in the official numbers.
Traten Poling (on a 16-yard jet sweep) and McCarty (a 5-yard run) scored before the end of the opening stanza, giving Logan a 30-0 lead after Zach Chapin booted a pair of extra points, then Frasure (five yards) and McCarty (15) added second-quarter touchdowns and Chapin added two more PATs.
Poling would reach paydirt on another 16-yard jet sweep midway through the third period as the entire second half was played with a running clock under the 30-point-differential rule.
“One of the seniors, Caden McCarty, came up to me right before halftime and said ‘coach, let’s just focus on doing everything right. It’s not about the score,’” Eddy said, “and I thought we did so much better of that tonight. We minimized penalties and turnovers. We were able to control the clock and run the ball, which was a huge factor early on. We were having a lot of success on the ground so we didn’t have to put the ball in the air. Obviously, that’s a factor.”
But what Eddy liked most was his kids turning the negatives of recent weeks into positives.
“I can’t praise our kids enough for their mental toughness and for sticking together through everything we’ve been through this year,” Eddy praised. “To come out and play excited is something maybe you don’t expect (an 0-7 team) to do. But this group of guys did and I’m really proud of them for that.”
The Chieftains are slated to conclude their home season next week against 3-5 Maysville, which defeated McConnelsville Morgan 42-21 Friday night.
“We’re going to try to use this as a springboard,” Eddy pointed out. “We have a really good Maysville team next week. They’re going to be big and physical and try to run the ball and control the clock, and they have a dual-threat quarterback out of the wing-T system who they’ll try to utilize on the edge.
“We have a lot of work to do,” he added, but with the burden of getting that first victory having been lifted from their shoulders. “the good news is we might have a lighter step.”
Opening up the record book: Here are some additional numbers from Logan football historian Spencer Waugh:
—The last time Logan scored at least 50 points in a game was in a 61-49 victory over Athens in the 2015 season opener;
—30 might be a program record for first-quarter points scored. The overall record for points in a single quarter is 42 in the second period of a blowout victory over Marietta in 2007;
—The last time Logan held an opponent to negative rushing yards was against Newark (-16) in 2013. East’s minus-3 rushing yards is the seventh time in school history a Chieftain team held its opponent to negative ground yardage, the record being minus-41 against Waverly in 1973;
—Minus-3 rushing yards is the fewest yards ever allowed by the Chiefs in a home game.
Logan 50, Columbus East 6
Col. East 0 6 0 0— 6
Logan 30 14 6 0—50
Logan: Caden McCarty 29 run (Ian Frasure run), 11:23, 1Q
Logan: McCarty 1 run (Easton Castle pass from Frasure), 7:09, 1Q
Logan: Traten Poling 16 run (Zach Chapin kick), 5:07, 1Q
Logan: McCarty 5 run (Chapin kick), 2:11, 1Q
Logan: Frasure 5 run (Chapin kick), 8:09, 2Q
Logan: McCarty 15 run (Chapin kick), 2:38, 2Q
East: Ishmeal Spann-Bowers 54 pass from Malachi Williams (run failed), 0:16.5, 2Q
Logan: Poling 16 run (kick failed), 6:03, 3Q
Team Statistics EA LO
First Downs 8 15
Offensive Plays 38 33
Rushes-Yards 21-(-3) 33-311
Passing Yards 141 0
Total Yards 138 311
Passes 11-17-0 0
Punts-Avg. 4-8.0 0
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 2-1
Penalties-Yards 1-5 5-50
Possession 27:30 20:30
Rushing — Logan: Caden McCarty 16-174 4TD, Traten Poling 5-90 2TD, Varik Fick 4-23, Ian Frasure 5-21 1TD, Hunter Hill 2-4, team 1-(-1). East leaders: Ishmeal Spann-Bowers 5-16.
Passing — Logan: none attempted. East: Malachi Williams 9-14-0—124 1TD, Priest Jackson 2-3-0—17.
Receiving — Logan: none. East leaders: Ishmeal Spann-Bowers 4-71 1TD, Isaac Ortiz 3-24.