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Rugged schedules prepare Indians, 'Cats for playoffs

November 10, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - You won't know it, but there will be a new feature at Martinsburg's Coubourn Field for today's West Virginia Class AA first-round playoff football game.

A time machine.

Berkeley Springs and Logan will take the field at 1:30 p.m., both looking for long stays in the postseason. Both also will be drawing from challenging pasts to transport them ahead.

The fourth-seeded Indians and No. 13 Wildcats will be counting on rugged schedules to provide the needed edge to advance.

"We beat three of the four AAA teams we have played," Berkeley Springs coach Angelo Luvara said. "Does it make a difference now? Of course it does. We are battle-tested."

The Indians beefed up their schedule, adding games with Hedgesville, South Hagerstown, Mountain Ridge and Allegany to get ready for a run at the playoffs. Berkeley Springs knocked off three of those four bigger schools - only losing to Allegany - to earn one of the top playoff seeds.

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But for Logan, playing a tough schedule is a way of life. It's hit or be hit in the Cardinal Conference.

"The conference gets us ready for anything," said Logan coach Gary Mullins. "There are seven teams in it and none of them run the same offense. We see a little bit of everything, so you got to be ready to play. We only have four teams in the playoffs and that's low for this conference."

So, the Wildcats have an idea of what Berkeley Springs will be bringing to the table. The 8-2 Indians have run through the vast majority of their competition behind the efforts of fullback Cody Reed and tailback Cody Hess. The pair has combined for 2,796 yards rushing and 43 touchdowns with their mixture of physical and elusive running.

"We faced Wayne, which also has two good running backs, but they have some big-time speed at 4.3 and 4.5 (seconds in the 40-yard dash)," Mullins said. "(Berkeley Springs) is more like Sissonsville, who also has two backs. They don't throw it around much. They want to be physical and run it down your throats."

The Indians have relied on their offensive line to help control the game for Reed and Hess. And today, it probably won't be much different.

"We are going to do what we have been doing all season long," Luvara said. "They are going to have to come in and stop us."

Logan will be bringing in a 4-4 style defense which features big, quick linebacking to go with a multifaceted offense that starts out of the I-formation.

"We feel that we are as fast as anybody," Mullins said. "We have eight or nine guys who move well and bench 275 pounds."

The Wildcats' defense revolves around linebacker Cody Baisden, who has been a dominant player. Baisden is also Logan's second-leading rusher with 845 yards and 13 touchdowns. Chris Tolliver is the top runner with 1,089 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Logan opened up the offense four games ago when it started freshman quarterback David Brown, who has thrown for 693 yards and three touchdowns, but has five interceptions.

But when it comes down to it in the playoffs, the lack of familiarity gives way to which team plays the best.

"Football is who focuses the best," Mullins said. "It will come down to turnovers and if things go good, you got a chance at 'em."

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