Chieftain Notebook: Chiefs have had their share of big-yardage plays this season
LOGAN — In last season’s game against Portsmouth in Logan Chieftain Stadium, the Chiefs set a school record by rushing for 562 yards against an out-manned Trojan defense.
They got almost half of them (246) on just three plays: 99-yard and 84-yard scoring runs by then-sophomore Bryce McBride and a 63-yard TD jaunt by eventual Southeastern Ohio Athletic League Player of the Year Isaac Schmeltzer.
That was an exception for the ’13 Chiefs, who weren’t a big-play offense. Those runs accounted for three of their four longest scoring plays from scrimmage last fall.
This season, however, big plays have been the norm rather than the exception.
In 2013, Logan’s longest pass play was a 69-yard scoring pass from Nick Kost to Isaiah Smith against Jackson.
This season, the Purple & White have already cashed in three pass plays of 62 yards or more — the longest being Smith’s 87-yard catch-and-run from Lane Little last week against Nelsonville-York — and Casey Phillips (74 yards) and Chance Cox (62) have also turned Little aerials into long-distance scoring plays.
The Chiefs have also had two lengthy touchdown runs (82 yards by McBride against N-Y and 64 yards by Little against Meigs) called back due to penalties… but they made up for both by scoring later on the same offensive series.
“We’re having success in the running game for (several) reasons,” Logan coach Billy Burke said. “We’ve got a couple running backs who are working their tails off and running hard. We’ve got a fullback guy in Colton Stilwell who picks up what we need him to block here and there. (We have) an offensive line that’s stepping well and double-teaming and moving up the linebackers, and we have a quarterback who can carry out great play-action off that.
“If (opposing defenses) don’t respect our run game or our passing game, we can get you on play-action (and a) lot of things that really feed off each other,” he continued. “If you want to stack the box and play man-to-man coverage, we have some talented receivers that we can match up one-on-one that we really feel good about it.”
Basically, big-play Chieftain athletes are making big-yardage plays in several different schemes.
“We’ve run the ball effectively the last couple weeks and (we have) a quarterback and some receivers who make things happen, too,” Burke said. Having multiple options “is really a nice problem to have. One facet of your game really does help you go and they feed off each other.”
Portsmouth allowed 49 points (against Ironton), 45 (Wheelersburg), 42 (Portsmouth West) and 41 (Lucasville Valley) and, on average, is relinquishing a whopping 41 points per contest. It would seem the Chiefs are primed to possibly tack on some additional long scoring plays Friday night.
Don’t forget the defense: Big-yardage plays haven’t been limited to the offense.
Cox (70 yards) and Phillips (46) returned interceptions for touchdowns last week against N-Y and Jordan returned a Lancaster fumble a school-record 89 yards for a score in the season opener. And you can also count Josh Rardain’s blocked punt (and subsequent recovery in the end zone) of a Meigs punt as a big play as well.
And a big play doesn’t necessarily have to be all about big yardage.
Logan foes are 0-for-4 in converting fourth downs over the last three games and, if you take away Loudonville’s 8-for-14 night on third down, the Chieftain defense is allowing opponents to convert just 20 percent of their third-down plays.
Welcome to Chieftain Nation: The Chiefs got some additional help along the O- and D-lines when Eddie Lanning — a 6-foot-3, 275-pound junior — became eligible to play this week.
Lanning (uniform number 51), who transferred from Lancaster Fisher Catholic, had to sit out the first five games in accordance with the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s transfer rule. He’ll add depth on the lines, particularly on defense.
Numbers, numbers, numbers: Little already has more than a thousand passing yards (1,011, to be precise), making him the first Logan quarterback to reach that plateau since Patrick Angle threw for a school-record 2,546 yards in 2009. … Cox (26 receptions) and Smith (22) are on pace to break into the all-time LHS top-five for receptions in a single season. The school record is 60 by Mason Mays in 2009, followed by 58 by Zach McDaniel (2009), 57 by Mays (2008), 45 by Jordan Rutter (2009) and Isaac Lindsey (2011), 44 by B.J. Hughes (2004) and 43 by D.J. Conrad (1985). Eric Cox (38 receptions in 1994), Chance Cox’s father, is eighth on that all-time list. … As the result of the OHSAA’s new 30-point running-clock rule, the Chiefs ran just 28 plays from scrimmage (not counting three end-of-game kneel-downs against Meigs) in the second halves of their two victories.