Logan stares down early adversity
Starting in the second game of the season, Logan coach Gary Mullins saw the talent and intangibles that eventually would send his team to the playoffs again.
In that game at Nicholas County, the Wildcats lost their quarterback on the game's fifth play - but improvised nicely and picked up a 25-0 victory.
From there, they rallied dramatically on the road against Chapmanville and Huntington, scoring touchdowns late in the game and winning each time on 2-point conversions - with 1:15 left against Chapmanville and with less than a minute against Huntington.
Those gutsy victories have given the No. 4 Wildcats (8-2) a second consecutive playoff berth and their first home playoff game since 1990. In the opening round of the Class AAA playoffs, they will face No. 13 Parkersburg South (6-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Logan, seeking the first football playoff victory in school history.
"It all started with Nicholas County,'' said Mullins. "Our quarterback went out with an MCL tear. In the past when we had big injuries like that, we had a hard time bouncing back. But we never missed a stride there and came together as a team when that happened.''
After quarterback Chris Marcum left the Nicholas game, Khaleel Reynolds, a 5-foot-9 180-pound junior, entered and played well enough to keep the job, although Marcum later rejoined the team and sometimes relieves Reynolds at QB.
Reynolds, who's a passing and running threat and even catches an occasional pass, was especially impressive in leading the Wildcats to a 22-21 victory at Chapmanville and to a 28-27 victory at Huntington.
"In the fourth quarter, he's unbelievable,'' said Mullins. "He led us on an 80-yard drive in the Chapmanville game for us to win. He led two back-to-back drives in the Huntington game and had an amazing run at the end of that game. Against Hurricane, he had a 60-some-yard touchdown run and a 30-some-yard touchdown run in the first half of that game. He can do it by throwing it and running it.''
Reynolds has completed 20-of-55 passes with four touchdowns and five interceptions and has run 67 times for 463 yards (6.9 yards per carry) and five TDs.
"He keeps a lot of plays going,'' said Mullins.
Marcum, a 6-3, 185-pound junior, has come off the bench to complete 11-of-28 passes for 189 yards with no scores and two interceptions.
The Wildcats' leading rusher is Joe Street, a 6-0, 235-pound senior who has gained 1,176 yards on 195 carries (6.0 average) and 16 touchdowns, but he suffered an ankle injury in the ninth game of the season and played sparingly in the season finale, a 38-7 home loss to Scott on Friday.
Mullins says he doesn't know if Street will be ready for Parkersburg South.
"I don't have any idea,'' said the coach. "I just know it's our first home playoff game since 1990, and I know everybody in this town will be jacked up and hoping he'll get himself in there.''
If Street is unavailable, the Wildcats likely will depend more heavily on David Toney, a 6-0, 215-pound senior, who carried 126 times for 809 yards (6.4 average) and six scores.
"We use a lot of guys anyway,'' said Mullins, "but we would probably feature Toney more, and Khaleel would run more.''
Beginning Sept. 23 with the victory at Chapmanville, the Wildcats reeled off five straight wins to put themselves in position to host to a home game. The streak ended abruptly, however, with the lopsided loss to Scott.
"Scott just dominated us in all aspects of the game, including coaching,'' said Mullins, who's in his eighth year as Logan's head coach. "It wasn't a good game to end the season on, but we can't let [Scott] beat us twice. The easiest way to forget the Scott game is to beat Parkersburg South.''
In the 2010 season, Parkersburg South finished No. 17 in the final AAA rankings and thus narrowly missed out on the playoffs.
But in the 2011 season opener at Ripley, the Patriots set themselves on course toward a playoff bid with a wild 32-25 victory, breaking a 25-all tie with 34 seconds left in the game and then intercepting a pass in the end zone on the game's final play.
Parkersburg South coach Jon Bolen still remembers some postgame praise from former Ripley coach Frank Marino, who attended the game.
"Marino came up to me after the game and said, 'Coach, your kids grew up tonight,'" Bolen recalled. "It was really a good compliment. I was really proud of our players to come back in that situation.''
En route to the playoffs, the Patriots faced five teams that reached the Class AAA playoffs - Morgantown, Musselman, Parkersburg, Robert C. Byrd and Wheeling Park - in what Bolen calls one of the state's toughest schedules. The Patriots were 2-3 in those games.
"We're mostly sophomores and juniors, but they're not sophomores and juniors anymore,'' said Bolen. "After seven or eight games, you get promoted.''
The Patriots' leading rusher is Jordan Quiocho, a 5-6, 145-pound junior who has gained 807 yards on 99 attempts (8.2 per carry) with six touchdowns. Jake Douglas, a 5-10, 175-pound senior, has gained 429 yards on 97 carries (4.4 average).
Quarterback Tyler Bolen, a 6-1, 165-pound junior, has completed 58-of-128 passes for 770 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions.
Reach Mike Whiteford at email@example.com.