No one suiting up for the Logan High School football team has been in the position of fighting for possession of the Ark of Victory before this week.
The Rangers had a stranglehold on the “trophy” that goes to the winner of games between them and city rival Central before the Red Raiders left Swanson Field victorious in the series last year for the first time since 2011.
“We hard the Ark for a long time before (the Red Raiders) broke that streak last year,” Logan quarterback Calvin Mavin said. “It hurts when it’s taken away from you, and we want to get it back.
“Besides playoff games, this is the biggest game of the year for us, and it’s about pride on the north side and the satisfaction of beating a cross-town rival. It’s also a fun game between friends, but it becomes all business when you get on the field.”
The Rangers’ presence on the field has had its consistencies and inconsistencies.
Coach Casey Knoble counts Logan’s defense as one of the consistencies, and a good performance on that side of the ball is imperative if the Rangers (2-2 overall, 1-1 MVC) are going to beat Central (3-1, 1-1) in a 7 p.m. kickoff at UW-La Crosse on Friday.
“Our defense has done a fantastic job,” said Knoble, whose team has won 12 of its last 14 games against the Red Raiders. “The problem has been that we have put our defense in some bad spots with fumbles or penalties or just bad luck sometimes.
“I’m happy with our defense and (offensive) line going into this game.”
Knoble should be happy with an offensive line that has paved the way for an average of 234 rushing yards per game. Senior Damond Butler (68 rushes, 499 yards and six touchdowns) has been the biggest beneficiary of that blocking.
Butler, at 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, isn’t the biggest back area defenses will see this season, but he’s strong, fast and proven to be hard to tackle. He has 328 rushing yards and three TDs in the last two games.
His success can only make things easier on Mavin, a senior who took over at quarterback two weeks ago. Mavin has passed for 115 yards and rushed for 77 in starts against Sparta and Onalaska.
“I feel like I’m seeing the field a little better, and I definitely feel better running the ball,” said Mavin, who took over after junior Devin Moran started Logan’s first two games. “I’m getting more comfortable with what my line can do. I think after building the chemistry we have over the last two weeks, we can get into the flow of things (in the passing game).”
The Rangers will have to try and stop the Red Raiders from throwing the ball, too, and that won’t be easy. If junior Johnny Davis plays after missing last week’s 32-8 win over Aquinas with a foot injury, Logan’s defense will be challenged like it hasn’t been all season.
“It’s all about the big play,” Knoble said. “They have the athletes all over the field, and they put you in tough positions.
“It will be a tough matchup for us, and we’ll do our best to keep Johnny under wraps and limit their big plays.”
Central coach Tony Servais wasn’t sure early in the week whether his quarterback would be Davis, who passed for 796 yards and rushed for 274 in Central’s first three games, or Trevon Van Egtern, who passed for 170 and rushed for 38 last week.
“What we know is that will have a physical football team just like they always do,” Servais said of the Rangers. “They are going to be very good, especially in an Ark game.
“We know we have our hands full, but we hope they have their hands full, too.”