Updated Thu, Nov 21, 2013 8:16 pm
After coming off of a losing campaign in the 2012 season, an underachieving Logan Football program welcomed Billy Burke to rejuvenate a former powerhouse.
In the process of regrouping, the new head coach implemented a motto that both inspired and challenged players to earn back the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League title.
Burke’s motto soon made it’s way out of the Chieftain locker room.
#Restoreorder found it’s way to the newsfeeds of Twitter and Facebook as players and community members embraced the new slogan. The football-hungry town saw the motto as just the rallying call Logan needed to take back what was once theirs.
Though Burke is new to the program, he soon grasped the significance of having a winning Logan football team.
“I can’t remember if I read an article or talked to another coach who talked about something about ‘This is the order that things will be,’” Burke said as he explained his inspiration. “It came from Duke Basketball and I use it in our context.”
Most first-year coaches often find themselves in a midst of turmoil and adapting to a program. However, Burke came to Logan with distinct goals that would revive football for the purple and white.
“I had an idea of how I wanted things to go,” Burke explained. “I had a sense from the community and from the interview process, some things that people felt they would like to see in the program, so I just did my best to try and bring some of those things.”
Among those things were rigorous workout regiments that picked up in intensity and capitalized on the mental capacity of Burke’s players. According to senior Issac Schmeltzer, his new coach implemented a form of discipline that targets the mental game behind the line of scrimmage.
“This year if we mess up, we go back over it, and go back over it until it’s pounded into our minds and we can’t forget it,” Schmeltzer said,” We go home and are still thinking about it.”
“If you ask me, there’s only mental toughness because if your brain is not willing to tell you to do something then your body won’t respond,” Burke said.
Providing direction and having his players think through each movement led to discipline and organization on the field. “If my brain isn’t telling my body what to do then my body does not just happen to do it,” Burke explains.
A shift of focus from physical strength to mental strength has led players to “expect a lot more from each other in practices and games,” said senior Evan Delong.
The added accountability for the players has lent itself to a tightly-knit group of individuals, making their goal easier to attain. Quarterback Nick Kost noted that this season’s squad was more focused then ever.
“It just feels like this year we can trust each other a lot more than what we did in the past,” Kost said.
Along with more accountability, the players also have learned to never take a snap off. This in turn created a sense of urgency among the Chieftains, ensuring them that losing is not an option.
“This year, you don’t see anybody walking on the field; just little things are so noticeable. We just work so hard, so much harder than we did last year,” Schmeltzer said.
The change of mentality has not only effected seniors playing their last season, but also the underclassmen identifying this as the year that the Chieftains will redeem themselves and as they take back their place at the head of the SEOAL.
“You see the underclassmen, even though they aren’t getting in, they’re still playing their role,” Schmeltzer said, “They’re trying to get the crowd pumped up.”
With the underclassmen now seeing that they have a show to put on for a sizeable crowd, embracing it and using it to the advantage of the players is the next step.
“Our stands were half full last year, this year they’re filled up,” Schmeltzer said. “Cheering just brings energy on the field, looking up and seeing that people have faith in us, it makes a big difference.”
Now that Logan has reinstated itself as the head of their league, the key will be in maintaining their position.
It’s one thing to earn a title once; following it up with several years of dominance is the next test for Burke’s Chieftains. It will be up to underclassmen to further the intensity and focus to make such a series possible.
With SEOAL title number 26 in the bag, the Chieftains now shift their focus from restoring order to maintaining it as they look forward to a potential 27th league title this offseason.