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Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

Passing game, defense pull Logan Elm past Zane Trace

Logan Elm tops Zane Trace, using 262 yards through the air and three takeaways to do so.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

TARLTON — It’s fair to say that before Friday’s home opener, some had written Logan Elm off.

But the Braves didn’t get — or just didn’t care about — that memo.

After losing a host of talented seniors from last year’s eight-win, playoff-bound team, the Braves haven’t had to rebuild. They’ve simply reloaded.

Behind a gargantuan all-around effort from senior Cam Smith and a stout defensive showing, Logan Elm opened its season with an impressive 39-23 win over visiting Zane Trace.

Logan Elm quarterback Aaron Walters threw for three touchdowns during Friday’s season-opening win over Zane Trace.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

“I’m just tremendously proud of our effort tonight,” Logan Elm coach Terry Holbert said. “We put ourselves in some tough situations, but our kids responded to adversity. It was a total team effort. Cam Smith had an unbelievable night on both sides of the ball, but there was a host of other guys [getting it done]. We were a little short with our depth up front, but those guys stepped up and did a great job. We had a great defensive game plan and I thought they executed well. It’s always great to start 1-0.”

Smith was excellent, and everywhere, all night long.

He picked off two passes from his defensive back post — two turnovers that halted ZT drives in LE territory — and racked up over 200 all-purpose yards with two touchdowns.

“I had a good solo effort but we all played so well together,” Smith said. “We’ve been practicing since the summer for this. This is really a team win. We’ve just worked so hard for this. They had us written off but we came out here and proved them wrong.”

Tale of the tape

After its defense forced a three-and-out to start the night, Logan Elm’s offense fumbled the ball on its first play from scrimmage. Zane Trace pounced on the loose football and immediately took advantage of a golden opportunity.

On the very next play, Carter Langley found a streaking Aaden Dunn for a 43-yard touchdown strike, putting the Pioneers ahead 7-0.

Later in the first quarter, with 1:19 to play, the Pioneers had the football again but handed the Braves a gift of their own. On a 3rd and 24 play, LE’s Carson Summers jumped in front of a pass and returned the interception 20 yards to the house, making it 7-7.

Then, after forcing a punt, Logan Elm embarked on a lengthy 10-play, 87-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown plunge from Landon Thompson. That score made it a 13-7 ballgame with 5:19 to go in the second.

PHOTOS: Images from Logan Elm’s win over Zane Trace

Zane Trace answered with a heavy dose of Blake Phillips.

The senior back ended a scoring drive he powered with a one-yard touchdown run of his own, putting the Pioneers back in front, 14-13.

But that’s when momentum flipped.

Smith took the ensuing kickoff 56 yards into Pioneer territory before Aaron Walters found him open in the end zone for a nine-yard pitch and catch, putting LE ahead 19-14 with 47 seconds left.

“[Walters] makes our offense go. He’s our leader,” Holbert said. “We trust him to do a lot. We trust him to get us out of bad plays and we’ve given him a lot of freedom. When things break down, as you saw tonight, he just has that ability to escape. He’s tough and keeps his eyes downfield.”

Walters played add-on midway through the third with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Camden Redd, pushing LE’s lead to 25-14 with 5:55 to play.

Down, but not out, the Pioneers answered with a 24-yard field goal early in the fourth, trimming the deficit to 25-17. But it took less than two minutes for LE to deliver the knockout blow — a 45-yard touchdown strike from Walters to Summers, making it a 32-17 tally.

“Coach [Holbert] gives us some leeway. It’s really like our offense,” Redd said. “It’s a family thing. That’s why we’re able to compete so hard. It’s not a dictatorship. We have each other’s backs. This is our home. We’re not letting anyone come in here [and win].”

The night’s scoring was capped by an eight-yard touchdown run from Thompson at the 4:29 mark before Langley plunged into the end zone from 12 yards out in garbage time.

“We’ve got to clean up our play,” Holbert said. “Our defensive effort was pretty solid for the most part but on special teams, we’ve got to get smoother, and we’ve got to take care of the ball offensively. In these really close games, [turnovers] take a huge importance. So we’ve got to do a better job with ball security and play a cleaner game on the special teams unit.”

Stat book

Walters had a monstrous night through the air, going 22-of-30 passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Summers caught nine balls for 98 yards and a score, Smith had six catches for 97 yards and a touchdown, and Redd hauled in two passes for 42 yards and a score.

On the ground, LE was led by Thompson with 49 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.

For Zane Trace, Langley was 7-of-14 passing for 55 yards with a touchdown and three picks. He also rushed 11 times for 65 yards and a score. Phillips followed with 54 yards rushing, 21 yards receiving and a touchdown on the ground.

What’s on tap

While Zane Trace (0-1) looks for its first win next week at home against Waverly, Logan Elm (1-0) travels to Westfall to renew an in-county rivalry.

“We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing since December,” Redd said. “We’ve been working and that’s why you see the score you do tonight. It’s going to continue to be that way.”


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