JFK faces Mapleton’s prolific passer
Logan Pharmer stands 5 feet-9 inches and weighs 165 pounds. His stature might not be big, but his accomplishments make the Ashland Mapleton High School quarterback seem like he’s 7-feet tall.
The Mapleton signal-caller has passed for 3,815 yards and 43 touchdowns this season. He holds the Ashland area record with 9,088 yards and 99 touchdowns.
John F. Kennedy’s football team has seen this kind of talent before, in the arm of Girard senior Mark Waid, whose Indians blanked JFK, 47-0, earlier this season.
Eagles coach Jeff Bayuk knows his team needs to limit Pharmer’s time on the field in their Division VII, Region 25 semifinal Saturday at Canton Central Catholic High School, starting at 7 p.m.
Bayuk said the Mounties’ QB is a tall task for the Eagles (6-5).
“We haven’t seen this kind of offense since Girard and that didn’t work out real well for us,” Bayuk said. “This kid, he’s the real deal.”
Ball control. The Eagles have to limit the time Mapleton’s offense is on the field for a Mounties team which is 8-3.
Kennedy’s mainstay in the backfield is 6-foot, 225-pound senior Issac Hadley, who has rushed 109 times for 807 yards.
“That’ll be a primary goal of ours,” Bayuk said. “Luckily for us, that’s what we do. We’re not going to do something we’re not comfortable doing. We’re comfortable running the ball.
“We’re comfortable eating time off the clock. Hopefully we’re able to do that or it’s going to be a very long game.”
Kennedy’s secondary is new after a first-round win Saturday over Windham when Jesse Likens suffered a season-ending injury. He and Savonne Williamson, who was injured earlier this season and ruled out for the year, were the two original starting cornerbacks.
“We’ll be trying some other people there,” Bayuk said.
Despite the result on Saturday, Kennedy has extra practice time for a team that is young. This is Kennedy’s fourth straight year in the postseason. Considering everything the Eagles have gone through this season, injuries and all, it’s a great accomplishment for JFK.
“We get two extra weeks of practice, especially for teams that are inexperienced,” Bayuk said. “That’s a very valuable asset of making the playoffs. I think even more important than that, we’re in the regional semifinals after a 1-4 start.
“I think that’s a tribute to our kids and our coaching staff for their perseverance, patience and hard work.”