LOGAN — There’s a new football sheriff in Chieftain Nation.
Mike Eddy has taken over as head coach for Billy Burke, whose six-year tenure (2013 through 2018) stands tied as the fifth-longest in school history.
The signs are quite apparent that preparations for the 2019 season are getting underway.
Logan Chieftain Football Camp gets underway Monday and practice begins Thursday, Aug. 1, with all preparations leading up to the Friday, Aug. 30 opener at Tri-Valley.
The Chiefs graduated 19 seniors, including mainstays such as three-year lettermen Tyler Cummin, Sam Hall, Landon Little, Clay Risch, Jeromy Weaver and Preston Yates, from a team that went just 1-9 in Burke’s final season as HC. Burke stepped down a few weeks after the 2018 season after having compiled a 26-34 record at Logan.
As many as 14 lettermen can return to the Chieftain fold, including three-year lettermen Colton and Conner Ruff as well as quarterback Braeden Spatar, Trevor Horner, Garrett Mace, Sam Kisor, Trevor Wyckoff and Israel Bookman, all of whom are multiple letter-winners.
During those same six seasons Burke was head coach at Logan, Eddy was serving as HC at Parkersburg South, where his Patriots posted a 28-34 record and made two post-season appearances.
From 2009 to 2012, Eddy was head coach at Gallia Academy when the Blue Devils and Chieftains were fierce rivals in the now-defunct Southeastern Ohio Athletic League.
The Blue Devils went 2-8 in 2009 but followed up with seasons of 7-3, 6-4 and 9-3, going undefeated in winning the 2012 SEOAL championship and also winning a 2012 playoff game. Eddy had a 24-18 record at Gallipolis.
Eddy’s GAHS teams went 2-2 in games against Logan, with both teams winning twice on the other’s home field. Logan won 57-6 in 2009 and 14-3 in 2011 at Memorial Field while Gallipolis won 41-17 in 2010 and 23-14 in 2012 in Logan Chieftain Stadium.
Parkersburg South was 2-8 in 2013, Eddy’s first season, but went 6-5 and made the West Virginia Class AAA playoffs in 2014. The Patriots were 5-5 the next two seasons and 3-7 in 2017 but rebounded to go 7-4 in 2018 and make another trip to the WV AAA post-season.
Going into this, his 11th season as a head coach, Eddy owns a 52-52 overall record with his teams having made four post-season appearances. Logan, meanwhile, hasn’t played a week-11 game since 2009.
Not only is there a new HC at the top of the LHS coaching tree, but a very familiar face has returned to the Chieftain sidelines as well.
LHS Athletic Hall of Famer Kelly Wolfe — a Chieftain grid star in the 1980s, the offensive coordinator for Logan’s great teams of the late 2000s and head coach from 2010 to 2012 — returns to the program to be Eddy’s offensive coordinator. He will also coach quarterbacks and defensive backs.
Wolfe joins coaching staff holdovers Jim Huntsberger (wide receivers and defensive ends coach as well as special teams coordinator), Justin Pack (running backs and outside linebackers), Josh Sturgell (tight ends and outside linebackers), Pat Walsh (offensive linemen and inside linebackers) and Tim Woodgeard (offensive linemen and defensive tackles). Eddy will be the defensive coordinator.
In addition to next week’s football camp (please see sidebar article), the Chiefs host Gallia Academy and Warren in a 7-on-7 passing scrimmage next Wednesday (10 a.m.) in Logan Chieftain Stadium and will also go 7-on-7 a week from Friday at Logan Elm.
The Warren-Gallia 7-on-7 will not only be against a couple former SEOAL foes, but it will be old home week of sorts for Logan’s 31st all-time head coach.
Gallipolis is coached by LHS graduate Alex Penrod, who was an assistant under Eddy during his salad days at GAHS, and new Warren coach Matt Kimes was an Eddy aide at Parkersburg South the past six seasons.
“We’re getting as much done in this two-week period as possible,” Eddy told The Logan Daily News earlier this week. “This week is just for us, then next week we go compete a little bit (before having) a week off.”
As per OHSAA rules, football coaches are allowed 10 days of summer contact time with their teams, and the Chiefs are using most of those this week and next.
After next Friday, the Chiefs will be off until Aug. 1, the first day on which football practice can commence statewide.
Eddy notes that players will report at 7:30 a.m. daily for two-a-days then, after meetings, will begin warm-ups at 8:15 and practice for 100 minutes. They will take a 25-minute break, then practice 50 more minutes before calling it a day.
“That way everybody’s out of here by noon and they can go enjoy what little bit of summer’s left and relax in the afternoons,” Eddy said.
Logan scrimmages at Nelsonville-York Friday, Aug. 9 (6 p.m.) and will host a special inter-squad “Former Captains” scrimmage (more on that as the event approaches) Saturday, Aug. 17, before entertaining former SEOAL foe Marietta in the annual OHSAA Jamboree exhibition scrimmage Friday, Aug. 23 (7 p.m.) in Chieftain Stadium.
Marietta replaces Canal Winchester, which served as Logan’s Jamboree dance partner each of the last two seasons. Current regular-season opponent Sheridan was Logan’s Jamboree foe the eight years prior to that.
There are several changes to the regular-season schedule which, as mentioned, kicks off Friday, Aug. 30, when the Chiefs make their first-ever varsity trek to Dresden to take on the Dawgs of Tri-Valley (10-2 last season), one of four 2019 Logan opponents who made the playoffs last fall.
Logan opens its home season with a week-two clash against Teays Valley (7-3) then, on Sept. 13, ancient SEOAL rival Jackson (7-4) returns to the schedule for a week-three contest at Jackson’s Alumni Stadium following a two-season hiatus since they played their final conference contest in 2016.
While Logan couldn’t find a conference in which to participate (and still hasn’t), Jackson immediately became a member of the Frontier Athletic Conference (along with Chillicothe, Hillsboro, Greenfield McClain, Miami Trace and Washington C.H.) in 2017. Chillicothe is the defending FAC champion after Jackson and Hillsboro shared the inaugural 2017 crown.
The Chiefs then host Sheridan (11-2) — a Division III regional finalist that was loaded with talent last season, a large number of them being seniors — in week four.
Week five will bring about Logan’s first Thursday night game since 1955 when the Chiefs travel to Chillicothe (7-3) — a team that edged the Chiefs 7-6 in overtime last season in Logan Chieftain Stadium — for a televised “Thursday Night Lights” game on WWHO Channel 53 out of Columbus.
While Logan has played 25 Thursday games in its football history, it will be the first since a 27-20 loss to Wellston in the ‘55 season finale and it will also be the Chiefs’ first non-Friday contest since they lost 38-8 at Hilliard Davidson in the opening round of the 2006 state Division I playoffs. Ironically, that was also Logan’s last game as a DI football school, as the Chiefs moved to DII the following season.
The second half of the season starts at another longtime SEOAL foe, Athens (9-2), which owns two-straight victories over the Chiefs after having snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Purple & White in 2017.
Logan then finishes its schedule with three home games in four weeks, hosting Zanesville (7-3) in week seven, Meigs (4-6) in week eight and Hamilton Township (5-5) in week 10, with the Chiefs’ first-ever trip to Maysville (5-5) on tap for week nine.
While the Purple & White are 2-0 all-time against both Hamilton Township and Maysville, it’s been 10 and 46 years, respectively, since Logan last played those schools.
Logan and Maysville haven’t squared off since 1973 (a 34-7 Logan victory) and, before that, in 1964 (34-6 Chiefs), with both games being played on the Hilltop.
The only two meetings with Hamilton Township were in 2008 (31-0 Logan) and 2009 (49-7 Chiefs) as part of Logan’s back-to-back 10-0 regular seasons. Both of those games were contested in suburban Columbus.
Garfield Heights (11-1), Columbus Watterson (5-5) and Waverly (9-2), whom the Chiefs played last season in weeks eight, nine and 10, respectively, are off the schedule.
Both Garfield Heights and Waverly were 2018 playoff participants, with GH going undefeated during the regular season for the first time in school history.
Jackson takes the week-three slot while Meigs, which Logan had played in week three since the two ex-SEOAL foes renewed their series in 2014 (Logan’s only 2018 victory was a 45-35 decision over the host Marauders), replaces Garfield Heights in week eight.
Maysville takes the Watterson spot in week nine and Hamilton Township is the week 10 foe in place of Waverly.
Week seven marks the end to a brief two-season set with former SEOAL foe Zanesville, which several months ago had to drop Logan going forward in order to readjust its 2020 slate to include new East Central Ohio League member Warren in that slot.
Things have changed dramatically since then, however. Zanesville has not only been accepted for membership in the Licking County League — a conference that has spurned Logan for membership more than once — but was also able to reach an agreement with the ECOL to depart a year early.
The Blue Devils will thus join the LCL beginning next football season; at this point, ZHS is the LCL’s lone expansion school, bringing membership to 11.
With Byesville Meadowbrook, Coshocton and River View also departing (for the Muskingum Valley League) after this school year, next fall the ECOL will consist only of Cambridge, Dover, New Philadelphia, Marietta and Warren… half of what was a 10-school conference just a few years ago.
Warren will be back on the Logan schedule in week four of 2020, meaning coaches Eddy and Kimes will pit their teams against one another with a “W” and an “L” officially on the line.
Also that year, Jackson moves to week one and Sheridan to week three and first-time football foe Columbus St. Charles (away in 2020, home in 2021) replaces Zanesville in week seven, with Tri-Valley departing the schedule.
All in all, it’s a schedule with mostly-familiar foes that includes five former SEOAL rivals and only one road trip (Tri-Valley) that takes longer than an hour... a far cry from treks to such outposts as Hamilton Ross (2017), Cambridge (2016), Shadyside (2015), Loudonville (2014) and Portsmouth (2014) in recent years.
Logan has a combined all-time record of 130-118-10 against its 2019 opponents, with 97 of those victories over Athens (51) and Jackson (46).
Logan plays two Division II opponents (Teays Valley and Chillicothe), six Division III foes (Tri-Valley, Jackson, Sheridan, Athens, Zanesville and Hamilton Township), one Division IV team (Maysville) and one Division V school (Meigs).
Tri-Valley (down from D2), Maysville (down from D3) and Meigs (down from D4) all dropped a division this season. Everyone else on Logan’s schedule remains in the same playoff division it was in last fall.
Speaking of last fall, the Chiefs’ 1-9 record tied the program’s all-time worst mark for a full season since records began being kept in 1912.
Logan has never gone winless over the course of a complete football season. The Chiefs were 0-1-1 early in the teachers’ strike-shortened 1978 campaign before the season had to be scrapped.
Logan’s 2018 record, however, was against arguably the most-difficult schedule any Logan team has ever had to face.
Five of Logan’s ten 2018 foes made the playoffs and combined for an unbelievable overall record of 80-29 for a .734 winning percentage.
(By comparison, Canal Winchester — which went 9-1 — missed the Division II playoffs due to a schedule in which its ‘18 foes went a paltry 32-68. None of CW’s opponents reached the post-season).
That said, by no means will 2019 be a Chieftain cakewalk. Logan’s opponents went 72-35 last season for a winning percentage of .673.
Meigs had the only losing record on Logan’s 2018 slate and the same goes for the Marauders among teams Logan plays going into this fall as well. Teays Valley, Chillicothe and Zanesville all missed the ‘18 playoffs despite their identical 7-3 records.
With the exception of week six at Athens (7:30 p.m.) and a 7:06 p.m. week-five start at Chillicothe to accommodate the TV broadcast, all games kick off at 7 p.m.
Logan’s 2019 schedule is as follows, with special events noted in parenthesis:
Aug. 30: at Tri-Valley
Sept. 6: Teays Valley (Hall of Fame/Alumni Cheerleader Night)
Sept. 13: at Jackson
Sept. 20: Sheridan
Sept. 26: at Chillicothe, 7:06 p.m. (“Thursday Night Lights” televised live on WWHO Channel 53)
Oct. 4: at Athens, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 11: Zanesville (Biddy Cheerleader Night)
Oct. 18: Meigs (Homecoming)
Oct. 25: at Maysville
Nov. 1: Hamilton Township (Senior Night)
The Logan Daily News — the only media outlet that offers coverage of ALL Chiefs and Lady Chiefs athletics (both in print and online at logandaily.com) — will once again offer comprehensive coverage of Chieftain football, beginning with preview stories the week leading up to the Aug. 30 opener at Tri-Valley.