PREVIEW: Logan Cheiftains Determined to Defend SEOAL Title< < Back to
Editor's Note: Over the next two weeks our reporters will be bringing you team previews for each team in the SEOAL, TVC-Ohio, TVC-Hocking, and our West Virginia teams. We begin in the SEOAL, where with only five teams in the conference, the competition is always tough.
It’s 6 a.m. and alarm clocks in Logan are buzzing. A squad of approximately 100 young men stumble out of bed and drive to Chieftain Stadium in an effort to maintain the order they’ve already claimed.
As the men gather in the locker room, one player sits his iPod on the bench and clicks play, and slowly the once-quiet locker room becomes full of chirping amongst teammates, as the guys get ready for and head out for their morning practice where coach Billy Burke are waiting.
By the end of the morning, just when most of their Logan classmates are rolling out of bed, the Chieftains will be done their first practice of the day.
As a first year head coach in 2013, Burke managed to restore the Logan football program, leading the Cheiftains to a winning season and an SEOAL title. One year later, Burke realizes it’ll probably be more difficult, as the Chieftains now have the target on their backs.
“The hardest thing is the fact that you beat everybody in the conference a year earlier,” Burke said. “You’re gonna get everybody’s best game the following year.”
Although Logan lost many of their key seniors to graduation last year, Burke doesn't believe it will hinder his teams' chance at repeating the same successes.
“Our job is to evaluate the talent that we have and try and design our system," Burke said, "not change plays, but design our system around our players’ strengths.”
The offense will once again incorporate both a strong ground game and passing game led by senior quarterback Caleb Lewellen, who has put in many hours of work during the offseason in hopes of improving off of his 2013 season.
Aside from the growth that Burke has seen from Lewellen, many of the upperclassmen have seen a lot of improvement from the previous year. According to linebacker Will Brooks, much of that personal growth from those veteran players has been ignited by the skills of the Chieftains' younger players.
“There’s a lot of young guys that are stepping up and pushing the varsity guys pretty hard and it’s doing us well,” Brooks said. "The sense of competition has driven the players to a new quality of play, benefitting the whole team."
With much of life in southeast Ohio centered around the pigskin on autumn Friday nights, bringing home another SEOAL title to the city of Logan is always the goal for the Burke and the Chieftains.
“Our coaches and our kids have to respond and represent the community every Friday night so they can be proud of what they see on the field,” Burke said.
Now that the expectations have been set, Burke and the team are determined to repeat their success, and they will get their first shot at it on Aug. 29, when they kick off the season at home against their Rt. 33 rival Lancaster.
'Gridiron Glory' returns on Friday, Aug. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on WOUB. You can follow the show on Twitter @gridironglory, like the Gridiron Glory page on Facebook, and follow along on Instagram @woubsports. You can also join the conversation throughout the season by using the hashtag #gridglory.