When Circleville Logan Elm and Williamsport Westfall traditionally meet on the football field, pride, playoff points and a game to help decide the Pickaway County championship gives each team more than enough to play for. That’s where head coaches Scott Bartholomew from Logan Elm and Scott Keller of Westfall want to keep the focus: On the kids. Some though will be on them.
When Circleville Logan Elm and Williamsport Westfall traditionally meet on the football field, pride, playoff points and a game to help decide the Pickaway County championship gives each team more than enough to play for.
That’s where head coaches Scott Bartholomew from Logan Elm and Scott Keller of Westfall want to keep the focus: On the kids.
“A lot of people want to make something out of this game like its Bart (nickname for Bartholomew) against Westfall,” Keller said. “Westfall people should be very proud of what Bart did here as head coach for (nine years). He poured his heart and soul into this football program, and into the school as an administrator.
“He is a fantastic person and there should be no hard feelings. This should be about the kids on the field, the Logan Elm kids playing the Westfall kids. Bart, I and (former Westfall, now current Logan Elm defensive coordinator Todd) Seymour are the best of friends. We will be before the game and hopefully will be afterwards.”
Added Bartholomew, who coached at Westfall through the 2006 season and accepted the Logan Elm job in February: “This game is not about the coaches, it is about the county championship. We are playing our first county game and Westfall is playing their second.
“We’ve been trying to downplay this all week. We have four coaches from Westfall, but that does not matter. This is about Logan Elm playing Westfall.”
So with that aside, let’s get to the teams.
Bartholomew could not have drawn up a much better opener for the Braves, as Logan Elm pounced on Washington Court House for 20 points in the first quarter of a 27-6 win.
“The win was very big for us,” Bartholomew said. “One thing we were worried about coming into the game was how our confidence was going to be.
“We jumped on a couple of turnovers on their end of the field in the first quarter, and that beginning was about as much as I could ask for.”
Bartholomew was pleased with “how the defense ran to the ball”, as the Logan Elm unit came away with four takeaways, including a pair of interceptions.
“I wouldn’t say we’re fast, but we were quick to the football and physical,” Bartholomew said.
One of the bigger changes for the Braves this season has been the spread offense Bartholomew brought with him from Westfall. Logan Elm signal caller Johnnie Brown was a dual threat, gaining 70 yards on 15 carries, while completing seven-of-13 passes for 98 yards.
“We’re still growing and adjusting to the spread offense,” Bartholomew said. “We still are dealing with things like making a hot read on a blitz, but we’re doing a good job of getting some of the basics down.”
Even though Westfall lost 13 starters, including eight on defense, from last season’s Division IV regional championship team, Bartholomew expects the Mustangs to have gained some experience from last week’s 35-14 loss to Teays Valley.
“People talk about them graduating a lot of kids and losing 35-14 to Teays Valley last week, but Westfall is a school that has a lot of tradition and pride in its football program,” he said. “Their kids are going to grow in blocking.
“They have a lot of team speed and do have some experience.”
On the other side of the field, the Mustangs are learning from the opening loss to Teays Valley that broke their 25-game regular-season winning streak.
“Teays Valley is a very good and physical football team. They have some nice athletes, and they took the game right at us, punched us in the mouth and our kids didn’t know how to really react,” Keller said. “They physically beat us and it showed.
“We thought we had a good practice (Tuesday), and we’re working not only on being physical, but also being mentally aggressive. We can’t coach experience, but we can challenge our young men, put them in challenges during practice and coach them up when they do make mistakes.”
Teays Valley outgained Westfall 392-311 last week, but the Vikings gained a big advantage in the turnover department, collecting four interceptions against the Mustangs.
“We have to simply cut down on turnovers; anytime you turn the ball over four times, I don’t care who you’re paying, you’re going to lose,” Keller said.
Keller was impressed with how Logan Elm capitalized on opportunities against Washington Court House.
“When you watch them on tape, they capitalized on three turnovers and that’s why it’s important for us to cut those out this week,” Keller said. “Their kids played with a great sense of urgency and built some confidence. They aren’t 0-10 (2007 record) anymore, they’re 1-0 and undefeated.”
Keller expects special teams to play a big role in the game Friday.
“One of the things we didn’t do well last week was special teams. We basically had a punt blocked and couldn’t get our kick return game going,” he said. “When you’re still trying to get your offense going and your defense settled, special teams are a very big factor for non-league games.”