By CRAIG DUNN Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
LOGAN — Yes, Chieftain Nation, a new football season — one that begins just six weeks from tonight — is not far away.
Young men wanting to be members of the 2014 Logan Chieftains have been working on physical conditioning for several weeks now. And, with a 7-on-7 passing scrimmage slated Saturday at Grandview Heights, team preparations begin to pick up in earnest.
Next week’s camp offers sessions each day for youth entering grades three through eight (4 to 6 p.m.) and grades nine through 12 (6 to 8:30 p.m.) next school year.
The registration fee is $25 per student ($20 if attending other Logan camps) and registration can be made both in advance and on the first day of camp on Monday. All campers will receive a camp T-shirt and can take part in a punt, pass and kick contest.
Entry forms are available on the Logan-Hocking Schools website, in the Logan High School athletic office and at loganfb.blogspot.com.
According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association, practice can begin state-wide on Friday, Aug. 1.
The Chiefs’ first practice will be Monday, Aug. 4, and they will practice from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily (except for Sundays) until Monday, Aug. 18, when teachers report in preparation for the first day of classes Wednesday, Aug. 20.
Logan’s first full-contact day with pads and helmets is Saturday, Aug. 9, the Chiefs’ sixth full day of practice.
The Chieftains are again slated for three scrimmages prior to their season opener Friday, Aug. 29, against the visiting Lancaster Golden Gales in Logan Chieftain Stadium.
Logan practices against visiting Logan Elm on Tuesday morning, Aug. 12, before hosting Circleville on Friday, Aug. 15 (5 p.m. freshman scrimmage, followed by varsity/reserve) and traveling to Sheridan for the annual OHSAA Jamboree exhibition game at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22.
It will be a season of change for the Purple & White, who graduated 20 seniors and several starters from a team that went 6-4 and won the school’s first Southeastern Ohio Athletic League championship since 2009.
One thing remains the same, however: Billy Burke returns for his second season as head coach.
You could use the nickname “Road Warriors” to describe the 2014 Chiefs who, after playing six of their 10 games in Logan Chieftain Stadium last season, hit the road six times this fall.
After hosting Lancaster for the final time (this is the last installment for the season-opening series, which began in 2004) the Chiefs play six of their final nine contests outside Hocking County. Those six road trips encompass nearly 800 round-trip travel miles.
(By comparison, Logan’s 2015 road slate — with one open slot still to be filled — is currently around 330 miles and will likely be no more than 430.)
In week two (Sept. 5), Logan makes its first-ever football trip to Teays Valley then, in week three (Sept. 12), ventures to Pomeroy to face the Meigs Marauders for the first time since 1982, when Meigs was a member of the SEOAL.
A three-game road swing concludes in week four (Sept. 19) when the Purple & White make one of their longest-ever football trips, traveling to Ashland County to face Loudonville for the second (and final) game of a two-year home-and-home series.
In week five (Sept. 26), the season reaches its midway point when the Chiefs host neighborhood rival Nelsonville-York before Logan takes to the road for two more games.
The Chieftains open conference play in week six (Oct. 3) by traveling to Portsmouth for what will be Logan’s final football game against the Trojans, who depart the SEOAL after the 2014-15 school year. Unless both schools need to fill a scheduling hole, don’t expect to see Portsmouth and Logan on each other’s football schedule for a long, long time.
Logan then plays still another road tilt the following week (Oct. 9) by traveling to longtime conference rival Jackson for a week-seven contest and a rematch of one of the 2013 season’s most-compelling games.
Last fall, the visiting Ironmen rallied with a touchdown and 2-point conversion to forge a 21-21 tie with less than a minute remaining before the Purple & White drove 50 yards on five plays for a TD with 22 seconds left and a thrilling 28-21 victory.
Since Logan finished 4-0 in the SEOAL and Jackson wound up 3-1, it proved to be a de facto league championship game.
The Purple & White finally return to Hocking County for back-to-back home games against two sets of Blue Devils — Zanesville (Oct. 17) and Gallipolis (Oct. 24) in weeks eight and nine, respectively — to conclude their home schedule.
Zanesville is coming off a season in which the Muskingum Countians came oh-so-close to reaching the state Division II championship game, losing in double-overtime to Loveland in a state semifinal.
Meanwhile, Gallia Academy — whom the Chiefs unseated as SEOAL champions last fall — looks to rebuild after a disastrous second half of the 2013 season.
Logan then travels to Warren (Oct. 31) for its season finale. The last time the Chieftains set foot in Washington County, the Warriors lambasted them 49-8 in the 2012 season finale.
Logan’s 2014 foes — who posted a combined record of 59-47 (a .557 winning percentage) last fall — are the same as 2013 with the exception of Meigs, which replaces Newark in the week-three slot.
However, nearly half of this season’s opponents will not be on the 2015 slate. Lancaster, Loudonville, Portsmouth and Zanesville all depart the schedule after this season.
In ’15, Lancaster will be replaced by a season-opening home contest at longtime rival Athens, whom the Chiefs will play for the first time since 2007; Cambridge, a first-time foe, will visit Logan Chieftain Stadium to take the week-four Loudonville slot, and Columbus St. Francis DeSales returns to the Logan schedule for the first time since 2003 and hosts the P&W in week eight, replacing Zanesville.
Portsmouth’s week-six slot has yet to be filled for next fall.
While only two Logan foes (Loudonville and Zanesville) made the state playoffs last season, teams such as Lancaster, N-Y, Jackson and Gallipolis are perennial playoff contenders … and this season’s Meigs and Portsmouth teams may very well contend for post-season berths in divisions IV and V, respectively.
A couple of other items of note as the 2014 season approaches:
• The OHSAA has adopted a running-clock rule for games that have a point differential of 30 points or more in the second half.
After the first half of regular-season games, any time the score differential reaches 30 points or more, a running clock will be utilized. Unless the differential falls under 30 points, the clock will run continuously in the second half except for time-outs, injuries, changes of team possession, the end of a period, or a scoring play.
• Chieftain Nation, there’s a change that directly involves you: all but one of Logan’s 10 varsity games start at 7 p.m. — a half-hour earlier than in years past — with the lone exception being a 7:30 week-three kickoff at Meigs.
With so many pass-oriented games taking longer to play, SEOAL administrators — as well as officials from many other leagues around the state — have chosen to move kickoffs up to 7 p.m. in order to compensate and get their players and fans heading for home at a more-reasonable time.
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The Logan Daily News will once again offer comprehensive Chieftain football coverage — both in print and online at logandaily.com — beginning with preview stories the week leading up to the Aug. 29 opener against Lancaster.