LOGAN — Needless to say, injuries have thrown a monkey wrench into the Logan Chieftains’ plans on both sides of the football thus far.
But things could have been far worse, especially had the Chiefs not overcome Newark 32-27 for their first win of the season last week.
Several players are stepping up and filling in on what seems to be a never-ending rotation of different kids having to move into different positions.
Seniors Austin Scarberry, Gabe Smith and Reggie Wesselhoeft and junior Brandon Arnett, to name just a few, had big games last Friday night.
“Austin was a guy who was playing linebacker and we asked him to play a fullback role that we didn’t really anticipate using this season,” said Logan coach Billy Burke. “He’s stepped up to the challenge and went out there and doing things a traditional fullback does. I’d venture to say that’s as big a reason as any that we were able to win last Friday night.”
The Chiefs got a huge interception from Arnett inside the Logan 10-yard line early in the final quarter to keep the Wildcats from taking the lead.
“Brandon Arnett was at corner and he hadn’t played corner” before, Burke noted. “He came off an injury early in camp and plugged right in and played some good defense. He stepped in against a really tough receiver (Newark’s Darius Shackleford), and he didn’t do a bad job for being there one week (while Shackleford has) probably been there three years. He stepped up and met the challenge, and now has a week under his belt.”
The rotation of players from position to position has forced the Chiefs to make changes on the fly less than a month into the season.
“In our meetings with coaches over the weekend we have to evaluate who’s going to be available, who played well and who did what in what position and (do) we feel comfortable moving this guy here or that guy there,” Burke noted. “It’s a little bit of a chess match within your own team to see who fits where and utilize their strengths.”
“Some of these other guys now have a week or two (in different spots) under their belt, plus we’ve modified our defensive scheme,” he continued. “I think it’s made it a little bit friendlier for different guys to step into different positions at different times.”
Smith stepped up and sacked Newark quarterback Grant Russell, who threw for a record 469 yards against the Chiefs, on the final play of the game. Russell wasn’t able to get away a desperation pass.
“Gabe Smith finished the game for us as opposed to maybe getting some pressure on (Russell) maybe throwing an incompletion,” Burke said. Smith “made a play to finish the game. Those (Newark) kids practice, too. (Russell’s) a darn good quarterback and (Shackleford’s) a darn good receiver, and they’re going to make plays, too.”
Wesselhoeft put defensive pressure on Russell at the outset, setting the tone for the Chieftain defense helping create a 19-0 lead.
Freshman football canceled: Injuries have forced Logan to cancel the remainder of its freshman football schedule.
The ninth-grade Chiefs played just one game (Lancaster) and had several players injured, forcing cancelation of last Saturday’s ninth-grade game at Newark and, ultimately, the remainder of the freshman schedule. The decision to pull the plug on the’13 season was made early this week.
Logan only had 24 freshmen on its original roster; several have been hurt and others are playing for the junior varsity. The two teams are thus combined to compete solely as a reserve team.
Local Loudonville connection: While the Chiefs and Loudonville Redbirds don’t have any current connections, there is one that goes way back.
Logan football historian Spencer Waugh notes that Tom Bender, one of the Logan High School Athletic Hall of Fame’s original members — was a Loudonville native. Bender coached the Chieftains from 1936 to 1941.
Inside the numbers...: The Chiefs converted 8-of-13 third-down possessions last week against the Wildcats after having converted just 3-of-23 against Lancaster and Teays Valley. Three of those conversions came during a 12-play, 43-yard drive that consumed more than seven minutes of clock time after Arnett’s fourth-quarter interception … Talk about contrasts: 19 of Newark’s 21 first downs were on passes while 18 of the Chiefs’ 19 first downs were on the ground … Kost, who rushed for 105 yards, became the first Logan quarterback to rush for at least 100 yards since Patrick Angle in 2008. Running back Isaac Schmeltzer rushed for 180 yards and three scores. While Logan has had multiple runners gain at least 100 yards in a single game on several occasions, it might have been the first time in the modern era of the passing quarterback, according to Waugh, where a full-time QB was one of them.
...Record numbers...: While Newark’s 469 passing yards and 25 pass completions are all-time single-game records against the Chiefs, Waugh notes that the Wildcats’ 15 rushing attempts are the second-lowest all-time against the Chiefs and Newark’s minus-16 yards rushing are fourth all-time. Waverly had minus-41 rushing yards in 1973; Warren minus-16 in 2006, and Circleville minus-17 in 1986 … Lancaster already set single-game records against the Chiefs for rushing yards (518) and first downs (25) earlier this season.
...And a final number: The Wildcats (Russell, actually) attempted 39 passes against the Chiefs last week. Waugh notes the Chieftains have never lost a game when their opponents have thrown 30 passes or more in a single game.