Ironmen weather Chieftains for season-opening 48-14 win
LOGAN — Just because 2020 has been one of the strangest, most-out-of-whack years in recorded history doesn’t mean at least a few things don’t stay the same.
The Logan Chieftains were certainly made aware of that Friday night as they finally got their season underway against the Jackson Ironmen.
For the second-straight season, the two teams had to deal with a lengthy weather delay — one of the biggest fears when staging a football game in this age of COVID-19 — and, for the second-straight season against their former Southeastern Ohio Athletic League rivals, the Ironmen showed they are pretty darn good as they so often are.
As Logan coach Mike Eddy points out, the Chieftains have some talent… but that young talent needs seasoning. A number of mental miscues led to several Jackson scores.
“It was almost like tonight was your second scrimmage. That’s what it kind of felt like,” said Eddy, “and the atmosphere is just so different with limited numbers in the stands (and) the team being spread out (physically distancing on the sidelines). It feels like there’s a lack of emotion that you would normally feel on a Friday night. It’s just different.”
It was certainly a different atmosphere for a season opener that, under normal circumstances — and as we know, things are anything but normal these days — would have easily attracted several thousand fans.
But, since football teams weren’t given the official go-ahead to play until just 10 days earlier, Logan only had time to get in one pre-season tune-up game last Friday at Marietta.
“Last week when we played Marietta, the theme of the night for us was missed tackles,” Eddy noted. “We charted 21 missed tackles on the first 12 plays. So that was the big emphasis this week. Tonight, it was about mental mistakes.
“Yes, there were some overthrown balls and yes there were some dropped balls, but those to me are physical things and are part of the game,” he continued. “Those things are going to happen. It’s the mental busts, it’s the breakdowns that just stood out to me all night long.”
But Eddy made sure to let his charges knew things will get better if they continue to put in hard work.
“As I told the kids when we wrapped up, if they’re still willing to show up, work hard and do the right things, we can fix the mental things,” he said. “They just can’t lose focus and can’t be too disappointed out of this or it will just lead to more disappointment.
“This (game) film is going to be incredibly important to point out to some of these inexperienced guys (that) here’s why we’re telling you to this, this is why you have to trust the coverage and you have to be able to communicate with each other to make sure everybody’s in the right spot at the right time,” he added. “There’s a lot of learning.”
The Chiefs moved the ball decently all night, playing a lot of the game on Jackson’s side of the field.
But, while Logan had more first downs (18 to 13), ran more plays (a whopping 76 to 39), outgained the Ironmen on the ground (157-146, thanks to Jackson losing nearly 40 yards as the result of bad snaps from center) and only had 13 fewer total yards (346-333) than their opponents, Jackson hit a number of big plays and took advantage of Logan’s inexperience. At times the Purple & White had as many as six sophomores on the field at once.
“This a really good football team,” Eddy said of his Chieftains. “We have some talent. Some of that (talent is) young and it’s not very experienced yet, but they’re good players. We just have to keep working.”
Despite an extended possession on which the Chiefs ran 11 plays sandwiched around a punt the Ironmen muffed for a turnover, a penalty on third-and-1 at the Jackson 19 halted a promising drive.
Then, with junior Evan Spires breaking a 35-yard run to set things up, Winters took the ball on a sweep around right end and found his way into the end zone from 35 yards out with 5:20 left in the opening period. Isaac Kuhn’s placement kick made it 7-0 and the Ironmen would never look back.
Late in the quarter, senior Macon Perrill picked off an Ian Frasure pass in the flat and took it 54 yards to the house untouched for a 14-0 edge with 2:10 left in the stanza.
A little over a minute later, with 1:01 on the clock, the remnants of hurricane Laura battered Logan Chieftain Stadium and forced those in attendance — mostly parents of players, cheerleaders and band members — to exit the stadium to their vehicles as per Ohio High School Athletic Association protocol, compounded on top of that by COVID-19 concerns.
Lightning lit up the sky for well over an hour and, per OHSAA rules, a 30-minute delay is necessary every time lightning is seen.
The delay ended up being an hour and 40 minutes, a little more than the 90-minute delay that occurred in last season’s week three game at Jackson, which the Ironmen won 28-7.
Play resumed at 9:30 p.m. — it was also determined the two teams would play through halftime, moving the Marching Chieftains’ halftime show to after the game — and the Chiefs were able to come out and finish off what ended up being a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring run by junior Traten Poling with 9:05 left in the second period.
A 31-yard scramble by Frasure on second-and-eight, and a 23-yard pass from Frasure to senior Jonny McClelland, put the Purple & White in scoring position.
The TD pulled Logan within 14-6 but the Chieftains were unable to attempt an extra point kick due to a bad center snap.
“The delay was actually a godsend for us,” Eddy said afterward, “because we were really struggling and were very much back on our heels. They had changed their front up a little bit — we’ve been repping their front for two weeks — and now all of a sudden, they’re in a new front, running line stunts and all the things we had not repped with these guys.
“Our linemen are chasing guys instead of blocking their rules because they’re trying to block a man instead of a rule,” he continued, “so we were able to come in and get on the board and get that fixed to where we were able to go back out and run the ball a little bit and be able to protect the quarterback a little bit.”
But the joy of getting right back into the game after the long weather delay didn’t last long. Statistically, it lasted just 26 seconds.
On Jackson’s first play of the ensuing possession, Winters teamed up with junior Tristan Prater on a deep ball that went for 53 yards before Winters scored on a 12-yard run up the middle to make it 21-6 with 8:39 left in the half.
Logan had a couple good drives later in the second period but turned the ball over on downs at the Jackson 17 and then missing a 36-yard field goal with 1:24 left.
On the first play after the missed FG, Winters again went deep to a ridiculously wide-open Prater (who had three catches for 160 yards), who hauled in the bomb a good 30 yards behind Logan coverage to easily complete an 80-yard scoring play with 1:11 left in the half. Logan blocked the PAT kick, but the Ironmen led 27-6 at the intermission.
Another Perrill pickoff on Logan’s opening possession, this one around the Jackson 15-yard line, ended a promising Chieftain drive. Then, after an exchange of possessions, Winters connected with Perrill on a 34-yard scoring pass on a slant over the middle to make it 35-6 Jackson after Winters ran for a 2-point conversion.
Prater made a circus catch of a fourth-and-23 pass from Winters early in the fourth period, basically batting the ball back to himself inside the 5-yard line near the far sideline and taking the ball into the end zone for a 27-yard score, to make it 42-6 with 11:31 left in the game and beginning a running clock for the 30-point differential rule.
The Chiefs did get the margin under 30 when Frasure hooked up with sophomore Hunter Hill on a 28-yard scoring aerial with 7:49 left in the game — Poling then caught a 2-point conversion pass from Frasure — before Jackson’s Andrew Davis went over the goal line on a 3-yard run with just under a minute remaining to round out the scoring.
Frasure, a senior making his first varsity start, wound up 16-of-39 passing for 157 yards — his 39 pass attempts were one shy of Lane Little’s school record of 40 set in 2015 — and Caden McCarty rushed for 91 yards on 20 carries to lead the Chiefs on the ground.
“We did some nice things tonight (but) we just didn’t do them consecutively,” Eddy said. “On third-and-10 you can’t give up a 40-yard play. You can’t do those things and expect win the football game.”
“That was a really good football team we played, but they didn’t get the best Logan football team,” he added. “I just don’t think they got our best tonight, and that’s a little bit disappointing, but that also happens. It’s a move-on situation. You can’t erase this, because there’s a lot to learn from it, but at the same time you have to be able to move on from it or it’s just going to multiply next week. We have to be focused on improving the things that we can improve and keep giving great effort.”
The Chiefs play at Amanda-Clearcreek next Friday. It will be the first-ever football matchup between the Chiefs and Aces, who had their season opener Friday night delayed until this afternoon due to weather.
“I was proud of the fact they played right up to the end,” Eddy said of his team. “We were still running the ball hard, still flying downhill and making tackles, and we were doing physically good things. But mentally there were just too many mistakes, and you just can’t recover from that when you’re playing a quality football team.”
Jackson 48, Logan 14
Jackson: Jacob Winters 35 run (Isaac Kuhn kick), 5:20, 1Q
Jackson: Macon Perrill 54 interception return (Kuhn kick), 2:10, 1Q
Logan: Traten Poling 3 run (bad snap), 9:05, 2Q
Jackson: Winters 12 run (Kuhn kick), 8:39, 2Q
Jackson: Tristan Prater 80 pass from Winters (kick blocked), 1:11, 2Q
Jackson: Perrill 34 pass from Winters (Winters run), 5:39, 3Q
Jackson: Prater 27 pass from Winters (Kuhn kick), 11:31, 4Q
Logan: Hunter Hill 28 pass from Ian Frasure (Poling pass from Frasure), 7:49, 4Q
Jackson: Andrew Davis 3 run (run failed), 0:58.4, 4Q
Team Statistics J L
First Downs 13 18
Offensive Plays 39 76
Rushes-Yards 23-146 35-157
Passing Yards 200 176
Total Yards 346 333
Passes 7-16-0 16-41-2
Punts-Avg. 4-36.8 5-25.4
Fumbles-Lost 6-3 2-0
Penalties-Yards 3-24 6-50
Rushing — Logan: Caden McCarty 20-91, Ian Frasure 7-38, Brayden Sturgell 1-17, Varik Fick 3-16, Traten Poling 2-10 1TD, Jonny McClelland 1-0, team 1-(-15). Jackson leaders: Evan Spires 8-68, Jacob Winters 5-58 2TD, Cade Wolford 6-45.
Passing — Logan: Ian Frasure 16-39-2—146 1TD, team (spiked passes) 0-2. Jackson: Jacob Winters 7-16-0—200 3TD.
Receiving — Logan: Jonny McClelland 6-80, Traten Poling 4-38, Caden McCarty 3-19, Hunter Hill 2-36 1TD, Izaac Swope 1-3. Jackson leaders: Tristan Prater 3-160 2TD.