High school football is a constant shuffling of new faces under facemasks. Names change on a depth chart like years on a calendar. For the Raiders of Benjamin Logan, young players will now get their turn to step into the open voids left by the players of the past.
Ben Logan was the seventh and final stop of our Camp Confidential series. The Raiders are coming into the 2013 season after losing a talented senior class from last year that featured six First-Team or Special Mention CBC Mad River Division players. This year’s team only has nine seniors on the roster, but head coach Carlton Cotner is very pleased with those seniors saying, “We have a great group of seniors. All we have is nine seniors; it’s a really small class. Out of that we have several guys playing for the first time or are in just their second year of football. But we have a core group of guys in Beau Swank, Anthony Roberts, and Joe Mobley that have been with us all four years and have done a great job providing leadership for us and we want to have a great year for them.”
The team is well aware that they’re younger and less experienced than most of the teams they’ll be facing this year. To end the practice Cotner huddled the team up and reinforced the point that these younger guys won’t be able to have the traditional underclassmen experience. Instead of sitting on the sidelines watching their older teammates, they’ll be the ones under the bright lights and making the plays. To prepare his young team for the season, Cotner has utilized scrimmages that have placed the Raiders against some of the top teams in the state. Cotner believes that facing tough competition is the only way his team can improve noting, “The only way you can become good is by playing good people.” River Valley, Mansfield Senior, and North Union are all playoff teams that the Raiders put on their scrimmage schedule for the offseason.
The Raiders have an out of conference schedule that opens the season against Cincinnati Summit Country Day and West Liberty-Salem; two teams that made it to the second round of the playoffs a season ago. If they want to improve on their 4-6 record from last season they’ll need to use these scrimmages to prepare for the gauntlet of tough opponents they’ll be facing. Cotner discussed some of the things coaches look for from their players in scrimmages saying, “The big thing is just to see performance. We want to get them on film, we want to make sure they get lined up, and we want to see effort and attitude. What we take from a scrimmage, we evaluate it and we’re just making sure we get kids in the right fit and right positions. They’re great tools and we get great film on it.”
Offensively, the Raiders run the triple option offense. Cotner talks about why his team runs the triple option saying, “We feel it gives us an advantage because no one else in our league and no one else on our schedule runs it and it becomes tougher for teams to prepare for. It allows us as we go up against bigger schools and teams that have bigger players to equalize the game for us. It doesn’t feature any one particular person. Our quarterback, fullback, or slot could carry the ball on any given play. Our guys are going to get a lot of carries and yards and the ball gets spread around quite a bit.” The Raiders will need to use a variety of weapons in their offense to keep defenses on their toes when trying to prepare for Ben Logan this season.
Defensively, the Raiders run a 4-3 front. Cotner discusses why his team uses a base 4-3, “We’re a base 4-3. We like to get pressure on the quarterback and get after him. We face a lot of spread teams in our league so rushing the quarterback is big and tackling in space is big and we feel the 4-3 gives us the best opportunity to do that.” The raiders will face many dynamic offenses in the CBC Mad River division so it’s imperative that the defense is able to stick to their assignments in order to slow down their opponents.
Teams may overlook the Raiders after losing so many important pieces from last season. But those same teams that mistake their players as young instead of youthful, unproven instead of eager, and inexperienced instead of raw might be the same teams coming out of game without a win. The goals for the program have not been tempered and a playoff appearance for the first time in the school’s history is still on the radar for Cotner saying, “I think going into any year you want to have a winning season, you want to compete for your conference championship, and we’ve never been to the playoffs in the history of the school and that’s one of our goals. I think given our inexperience and our youth our main focus is one day at a time. We want to be better today than we were yesterday and we want to be better tomorrow than we were today. That’s what our focus is right now.”
The 2013 Benjamin Logan Raiders have many question marks surrounding the team. The team is replacing a large number of great players with kids that are young and lacking in experience. But if there is one constant in high school football it’s that there is always another guy to fill in the hole that was left. To be successful this season, the Raiders will need some of those players who are just names on a depth chart to become names to remember.
Benjamin Logan’s schedule is the following.
8/30 H Summit Country Day
9/6 H West Liberty-Salem
9/13 A Kenton Ridge
9/20 H Bellefontaine
9/27 A Tippecanoe
10/4 A Northwestern
10/11 H Urbana
10/18 A Graham
10/25 H Greenon
11/1 H Indian Lake
Listen to the full interview with head coach Carlton Cotner.
That concludes our seven-part Camp Confidential series. Not only were we able to see the X’s and O’s of the teams of the area, but we were able to see young men being mentored by some of these great men that coach football in Champaign and Logan County. High school football is very special to the communities in these counties and is a Friday night fall tradition that has been going on for decades. So make sure to stop out and watch some games this year and support the boys of fall as some of them will be lacing up the cleats for their very last time. You can listen to three games every Friday night of the season on FM 98.3, AM 1390, or streaming live on peakofohio.com.