By Ryan Lengerich
The Logan Longhorn’s reward for winning its first playoff football game in school history was a meeting with the state’s No. 1 ranked team.
The Tatum Coyotes and its 11 seniors stormed into Longhorn Stadium Saturday night unbeaten and having “mercy-ruled” nearly every team they have played this season, including the Longhorns Sept. 19.
Coyotes senior Art Castro ran for two touchdowns, passed for four more and returned an interception for a score as Tatum dominated the second half and inflicted the 45-point mercy rule on the Longhorns 66-20. Tatum will take on Melrose this weekend for the state championship.
“They had bigger guys on our wide receivers so we thought we could out-run them,” Castro said. “We’re just a way faster team.”
The Coyotes game plan was simple: Keep the ball out of Logan senior Kirk Burns’ hands. The Logan running back suffered a concussion in the first meeting between the teams and scored seven touchdowns in Logan’s win last weekend against Floyd. The Coyotes refused to kick off to Burns and keyed on him defensively.
“It was real tough but there was nothing I could do,” Burns said. “They came prepared.”
Burns was able to break loose early and score the game’s first touchdown, but he would be held scoreless from that point. Castro responded with a touchdown. A Logan fake field goal touchdown pass from sophomore Drew Parez to sophomore Marshal Graham gave the Longhorns a 12-8 first quarter lead.
“We were doing well in the first quarter, we were ready to play and were all hyped up,” Graham said.
Tatum then scored 22 unanswered points in the second half before Graham scored on a short run to make the score 30-20. That was as close as Logan would get to the Coyotes. A late first half Castro touchdown made the score 36-20 at halftime.
While the Longhorns struggled against the speedy Tatum defense, the Coyotes exploded on offense. Four different Tatum seniors scored second half touchdowns. A 40-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jacob Eubank was followed by at 60-yard interception return by Castro pushing the score to 58-20 at the end of the third quarter.
“They are well conditioned and well trained,” said Logan assistant coach Nick Knippa. “They came out and executed much better than they did in the first half.”
An eight yard touchdown reception by Tatum senior Gary Herrera and the extra points ended the game with 7:05 remaining.
“With the team we had this year I am really proud of them,” said Logan head coach Billy Burns. “I was proud of them for everything they did.”