Logan proved last year it could not only compete with teams in the big, bad Mountain State Athletic Conference, but that it could thrive.
The Wildcats, who swept all three games against MSAC schools in last year's run to an 8-2 record and the No. 4 playoff seed in Class AAA, play their first 2012 opponent from that league tonight when they invade Winfield for a 7:30 kickoff.
Logan opened some eyes around the state last year by beating Hurricane, Huntington and Lincoln County as it qualified for its first home playoff game since 1990.
"We're really excited about football now in Logan,'' said coach Gary Mullins, "and our guys play hard. That's what we'll get whether we're playing Winfield or playing Man. It doesn't make a difference to our guys - the level of play is going to be the same. They're happy to be out there, and football matters this season and last season.''
Mullins realizes that his Wildcats (4-1), ranked No. 13 in AAA, are going to be tested by Winfield (2-3), which isn't that far removed from being a playoff contender. The Generals played toe-to-toe with Huntington for three quarters before losing 21-3, and gave unbeaten Point Pleasant everything it wanted before falling 18-13 last week.
"They play extremely hard,'' Mullins said, "and it seems like they've changed the culture there, like we were doing a couple years ago. They lost a player [running back David Gaydosz transferred to Cabell Midland] and kind of bonded together. It seems to have brought them closer together, and we understand how that works.
"You can't hide on film how hard they play, and [Seth Lewis] will be the best running back we've faced up to this point, as far as an individual runner. [Chris Turner] is as skilled as any wide receiver we've seen. A big part of what they do is try to get it in their hands.''
Last year, Logan downed Winfield 28-10 mainly by rushing for 362 yards. The run game hasn't been as productive for the Wildcats this year, as team leader Worm Street owns just 274 yards through five games.
Mullins said that's due, in part, to the presence of an accomplished quarterback in Chris Marcum (867 yards, seven TDs).
"We're really skilled at wide receiver and quarterback,'' Mullins said, "so we're kind of leaning that way. But we ran the ball more last week and against good triple-A teams, you have to run the football. We'll have to pick up that side of the ball if we want to be successful.