This is about the time Logan's players started believing last year.
Wins two weeks apart against Huntington and Hurricane helped boost the Wildcats into the No. 4 seed for the Class AAA playoffs and, just as importantly, gave Logan's players confidence they could beat teams from the Mountain State Athletic Conference.
They get another shot at 7:30 tonight when Logan (6-2) and Hurricane (5-3) tangle at Redskin Stadium in a matchup of Class AAA playoff hopefuls. According to rejuggled figures at WTOV9.com (following Elkins' forfeit of seven victories this week), Hurricane enters the game tied for 12th in the playoff ratings and Logan tied for 16th.
"The Huntington and Hurricane games last year really gave our kids belief that we can win games like that,'' said Logan coach Gary Mullins. "Before then, we'd talk the talk, but now they think they can win those-type games, and we like to play those-type games.''
Last year, Logan was more of a running team with backs like seniors Joe Street and David Toney, but this season it rides more on the arm of quarterback Chris Marcum (1,634 yards, 15 touchdowns), who figures to have a passing duel with Hurricane's Austin Hensley (1,748 yards, 19 TDs).
"We try to adjust to what we have,'' Mullins said. "We don't have the luxury of saying, 'This is the type-offense we're going to run and stick with it.' Our athlete base changes every year. One year we might be more physical, or spread it out more.
"Hensley's got a great arm and some great receivers to throw to, but we've got to remember he can definitely hurt you with his feet. He's run a lot in some games.''
Interestingly, if Logan's offense was still ground bound, it could attack a Hurricane defense that allows about 220 yards rushing per game. The Redskins are sharp against the pass, however, permitting just 90 yards a game, picking off nine passes and giving up only six TD tosses all season. Defensive back Zach Cooper has 17 tackles for losses.
South Charleston (5-4) at Parkersburg (4-4): Just like last year, SC comes into its final regular-season game needing to beat the Big Reds to have any shot at a AAA playoff spot. The Black Eagles didn't get it done last year, losing 29-13 as Adam Lindamood ran for 220 yards and two TDs.
"We've got one to win,'' said SC coach John Messinger, "and if we can, there's a future for us. If we can't, we're over, plain and simple. My big worry is how we're going to tackle Lindamood.
"I've told them this is like the first playoff game for us. There's a bit of a logjam at 6-4. If we were 7-3, there's no doubt. One bad thing about having a bye the last week of the season is having to sit back and see how this thing plays out.''
St. Francis DeSales, Ohio (5-4) at George Washington (6-2): The Patriots play their first game without linebacker, defensive leader and fullback Dustin Crouser, who was lost to a knee injury last week.
They face a tough task in the Stallions, who need a win to perhaps keep alive their streak of 18 straight seasons with a playoff berth, tops in Ohio. DeSales went 5-6 last year, its first losing season since 1974.
Buffalo (7-1) at Symmes Valley, Ohio (7-2): The Bison can become the first Kanawha Valley team to lock up a postseason spot tonight with a road win against the Vikings, a power running team that averages 42 points. After that, Buffalo closes the regular season at No. 2 Wahama (8-0).
"We've played a little flat the last couple weeks,'' said Bison coach Mike Sawyer. "Pretty much the rest of the way it's going to be like a playoff game. Everyone we play from here on out is good. We've got to come ready to play and work a little harder.''
Sissonville (4-4) at Poca (2-6): The Indians, tied for 20th in AA, need to win out to have a chance of getting a playoff spot. The Dots won this matchup last year 19-0, limiting Sissonville to only 95 net yards of offense.
St. Albans (2-7) at Winfield (3-5): Chris Turner, who caught three touchdowns for the Generals last week, had his only TD reception last year in a 15-13 win over the Red Dragons. SA workhorse Drew Kirby averages 20-plus carries per game.
Nitro (2-6) at Spring Valley (5-3): The Wildcats have allowed six opposing backs to run for 100-plus yards this year, and three to rush for more than 200. Now comes the Timberwolves tandem of Elijah Wellman and Ryan George (2,052 yards, 21 TDs combined).
Riverside (1-7) at Huntington (7-1): Highlanders quarterback Mark Shaver completed only two passes in last year's 28-15 win over the Warriors, but both went for TDs. Huntington has allowed just 11 TDs in eight games.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.