BROOKLINE, Mass. -- Casey Day has preached versatility to his players from the day he took the job at Dexter School as the head football coach. With only 33 players on his roster, and more than half of those underclassmen, Day constantly demands that his team be able to adapt and adjust to whatever role he thrusts them into during the course of the season.
Luckily, the second-year head coach can point to his star player as the model for his talking points.
Abner Logan Jr., the 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound senior who was already a fixture in the recruiting scene as a defensive lineman and linebacker, decided to help the team out on the offense side of the ball last season by taking over the lead running back position.
The results were solid for a player who never played the position before. Learning on the job, he finished with 750 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, with another 450 yards and four scores receiving. Logan knew that in order to get a young team on the same page with the new philosophy of the coaching staff, he would have to step up and do something new to help the team.
“The team looks to me as a leader, so I have to kind of set an example,” said Logan, who holds offers from a slew of Division 1 schools including Northwestern, Maryland, UConn and Boston College. “I’m not really a big talker, so I have to do my leading on the field. The program is really new, so you have to start from somewhere and hopefully it can start with me.”
The learning of a new position didn’t come without its bumps and bruises along the way, however. The coaching staff had to teach the talented junior how to do the basic things that running backs learn from their days in Pop Warner, like finding a hole and hitting it quickly, to taking a hand off correctly from the quarterback.
“I had to develop it,” said Logan. “I worked hard on my versatility, my footwork, my explosiveness and my fundamentals.”
The work, which sometimes would last two-and-a-half hours a day during the offseason, that Logan put in over the past year and a half, where he wowed schools with ahleticism as he ran a sub 4.6-second 40-yard dash and displayed a 36-inch vertical leap, has Day thinking that this year could be a big surge for a program that went 2-6 last season.
“Last year was a work in progress,” said Day. “This year he is light years ahead of where he was running the ball. It was clear to all of our coaches. He’s making cuts and doing things that he didn’t do last year. He’s turned himself into a top five percent athlete in the country. It’s a testament to his hard work and his commitment to our team to want to improve himself.”
The new position also helped Logan brush up on his defensive techniques as well. Logan, who finished with 55 tackles and seven sacks last season, said he is learning more and more about his defensive assignments by becoming well-versed on the offensive side of the ball.
“It helps both ways,” said Logan. “As a linebacker I can see where the holes are. As a running back I can see where the linebackers might be playing so I can avoid the contact.”
Logan look to show off his maturity at running back in his second season behind a big offensive line. Lucas Hinds, Dan DiNicola, Costa Toubekis are all 6-foot-3 or bigger and all weigh in at 250 pounds or more, while sophomore James Hendren towers over everyone at 6-foot-8 and 275 pounds.
“We are going to be able to come off the ball against any team that we play,” said Day. “We are strong up front and we can get the ball to (Logan) or (quarterback Luke Cuneo). With those guys speed and the guys we have up front it’s going to have to come down to execution.”
DEXTER AT A GLANCE
Coach: Casey Day (second season, 2-6)
Last year: 2-6.
Players to Watch: Abner Logan Jr., Sr. RB/LB/DE 6-2, 220; James Hendren So. OL/DL 6-8, 275; Luke Cuneo So. QB/DB 5-7, 155; Craig Strand Jr. TE/LB 6-2, 185; Costa Toubekis Jr. OL/DE 6-3, 255.
Strengths: Offensive and Defensive Line, Skill Positions
Outlook: The season could hinge on the year that Abner Logan has on both sides of the ball, but Casey Day wants to guard from being a one-man show. Day will need his line, on both sides of the ball, to carve its way through opposing teams and open gaping holes for Logan and quarterback Luke Cuneo to run through. Cuneo should have time to operate in the pocket, but will need to prove doubters wrong that a smaller quarterback can make the throws and be effective with traffic in his throwing lanes. An injury here or there could really haunt Dexter, as the team only has 33 players on the roster. However, Logan should put on a show this year and get that win total up well past the two wins Day picked up in his first season.