LOGAN — You could tell it was some kind of sweet win for the Logan High School football team on Friday night.
The young Wildcats had endured six straight losses to begin the season and had suffered eight losses in a row dating back to last year.
But that all came to an end and the victory bell rang at Logan’s Willis-Nisbet Stadium as the Wildcats blanked the Corridor G rival Scott Skyhawks 35-0 in the annual LHS homecoming game.
The monkey is off the Logan football team’s backs a bit and also for head coach Jimmy Sheppard.
Following the win and post-game handshakes, Logan players huddled at midfield and sang “Country Roads” in WVU fashion.
It was a cheerful rendition as just about every Wildcat sang.
Winning does that.
It will do that for just about any team that has endured adversity.
“We were glad to get one. It’s been a long season,” an elated Sheppard said after the game. “We’ve played a lot of good teams out of the gate. We just came out ready to play this week. Can’t say enough about them. They played hard for the entire game. It was a team effort.”
Jordan Hayes threw for four touchdowns and freshman Aiden Slack was the recipient of three of them.
With the win, Logan improved to 1-6 overall and 1-5 in the Cardinal Conference. Scott, which beat Wayne last week, dropped to 1-5, 1-4.
Hayes threw strikes of 13, 27 and 47 to Slack and added a fourth touchdown on a 73-yard hookup with Cameron Hensley on the second play of the game. Dawson Maynard scored Logan’s fifth and final touchdown on a 4-yard TD run in the game’s closing minutes.
Sheppard said it was a gutsy effort by Slack, who played the game with a broken finger. Slack also had a 63-yard touchdown run called back late in the fourth period due to a holding penalty on the Cats.
“Slack played well and he was hurt the whole game,” Sheppard said. “He fought through it and for a freshman he’s about as good as it comes. He broke his middle finger catching a ball but we taped it together. But he still played and played hard. He’s going to be really good the next three years.”
Scott, playing the game without two of its top play makers in quarterback Caleb Hughes (knee) and wide receiver Caleb Dingess (concussion), who sat out due to injuries, was never really able to get on track offensively.
“They were hungry,” Scott coach Shane Griffith said. “Last week we were hungry. A starved wolf will chew its own leg off.”
Logan set the tone early in the game as Hayes tossed a 73-yard TD pass to Hensley with 11:13 to go in the first quarter. The two-point conversion failed as Logan led 6-0.
“He ran his post and beat his guy and caught the ball. He’s fast,” Sheppard said. “His dad Steve Bailey was a running back here and looked a lot like him on that play.”
The Wildcats then reached pay dirt on its next possession with a 13-yard Hayes-to-Slack touchdown pass. Slack took the direct snap and ran it in on the two-point conversion as the Cats led 14-0 with 6:16 to go in the opening quarter.
Later, Logan got the ball back on its own 19-yard line following a disastrous 12-yard shanked punt by the Skyhawks, but the Cats soon fumbled it away and the first period came to an end with Logan up two scores. Logan later turned it over on downs at midfield and Scott looked to get back into the game.
On the first play of its next drive, Scott’s Klay Matthews ran for 38 yards to the Scott 44, and after a facemask flag later on the Cats, the Skyhawks were in business at the Logan 11.
Logan, however, was able to stuff Hughes for a no-gainer on a fourth-and-one play at the Logan 2-yard line.
The game stayed at 14-0 in favor of Logan at halftime.
Early in the third quarter, Scott’s Trey Johnson blocked a Slack punt, giving the Skyhawks the ball at the Logan 42. The drive was again stalled by the Logan defense.
Logan’s D was able to pitch the shutout on Scott and that was a huge turn of events. Logan’s defense had been poor all season, allowing 337 points or an average of 56.2 points per contest.
The Wildcats then mounted a 9-play, 74-yard drive, culminating with Hayes’ 27-yard touchdown pass to Slack with 2:56 remaining in the third quarter. The two-point conversion failed, but the Cats led 20-0 after three.
Logan added another score with 8:11 left in the game with a 47-yard TD pass from Hayes to Slack. Slack tipped the ball off his hands and to himself and was able to reel it in around the 15-yard line and race to the goal line for six. Slack then booted the extra point kick as Logan led 27-0.
The Skyhawks gave its fans something to cheer about on the first play of its next drive as Issac Doss raced 68-yards to the LHS 22, only being stopped from taking it to the house after a shoe-string tackle by Hensley.
The drive fizzled right there on the 22, however, as Scott turned it over on downs.
The Cats reached the end zone one more time with 1:27 left in the game as Maynard scored on a 4-yard TD run. Caleb Tiller tacked on the two-point conversion run as Logan closed out the scoring at 35-0.
Erin Gore was crowned at halftime as the Logan High School homecoming queen. Braydon McClung was named Mr. Wildcat.
Logan is open next week and returns to action on Friday, Oct. 25, at home against county rival Chapmanville (3-3). The Cats then close out the season at winless Wayne (0-6) on Nov. 1 and at Herbert Hoover (3-4) on Nov. 8.
“Getting this homecoming win was extra special for the kids. For us, it’s just another ballgame. We want to win them all,” Sheppard said. “But this win was big and we’re glad we got it. We’ve had some struggles this season and we’ve had a lot of injuries and we’re playing with a lot of young kids. They are developing really well. We have three games left and we feel like they are all winnable games. Hopefully we can match last year’s win mark.”
Scott hosts Mingo Central (4-2) this coming Friday night at 7:30. The Skyhawks then close out the season at Poca (7-0) on Oct. 25, at home against Winfield (4-2) on Nov. 1 and at Nitro (3-4) on Nov. 8.
“We’ll be facing some of the biggest challenges that the Cardinal Conference offers,” Griffith said. “We’re not only thinking about next week, we’re thinking about next year. We’re in a rebuilding process and there’s a lot of growing going on. This is a lesson learned. We came off a big win and you have to be able to follow that up. You can be at a buffet table but if you’re full you can’t eat anymore. We kind of got too full after that win last week.”
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or at 304-307-2401.