COVID, Several Injuries, A Family Death And An 0-4 Start Couldn’t Keep The James Logan Football Team Down — Now Opponents Can’t Either •
PICTURED ABOVE: James Logan senior QB, Marcus Sanders. (Chace Bryson photo)
Need an example as to how far the power of positive thinking can carry a group?
Look no further than the James Logan-Union City football team.
Thanks to a 42-7 win over visiting Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland, the Colts know now that there will be postseason football in their future. The victory clinched at least a share of the MVAL/WACC – Foothill Division title, and Logan (5-4, 3-0) will be a prohibitive favorite when it wraps up the regular season against winless Moreau Catholic-Hayward on Friday.
Just a few weeks ago, that sentence seemed about as far from reality as you could get.
When the Colts lined up for their week four game at Heritage-Brentwood, head coach Eddie Smith knew what his roster looked like when asked before the game to assess how his team was doing coming into the matchup.
“We just want to make sure the kids are having fun,” the second-year coach said.
It sounded like coach speak at the time, but Smith and the Colts knew how important that message truly was. Logan would line up that night with 14 players out, including senior quarterback Marcus Sanders. Heritage went on to win 41-15, dropping the Colts to 0-4.
That was the last time Logan lost.
A victory the next week against Freedom put Logan in the win column, but all was not better inside the program. That same week, Elizabeth Tupa, mother of defensive end/tight end David Tupa, passed away, dealing the team another blow.
In the face of adversity, the Colts did what they could to stay positive. One week later, that approach got a serious boost when Logan earned a big leg up on its league foes by pulling out a 35-33 victory over San Leandro. Sophomore Robert Mendez, usually a safety who Smith said volunteered to step in for Sanders under center, helped lead the charge with a pair of late touchdown passes.
Sanders would ultimately be sidelined for several weeks, the result of a big hit against Monte Vista that landed the 6-foot-5 signal-caller a brief stay in the hospital with a ruptured spleen. Once he returned to school, Sanders stayed engaged with his teammates while casting an eye towards his own return to the field.
“We didn’t listen to any of the haters. Our coaches kept bringing us up with hard practices every day,” Sanders said. “Even though guys were hurt, we still fought hard. We kept working.”
One-sided wins over Kennedy-Fremont and Hayward gave Sanders a chance to ease back in gradually, and by the time he lined up for Logan’s first offensive play against Bishop O’Dowd, he was back to top form.
That was evident right from the start.
On the first play of the night, senior Khalid Robinson, Logan’s most consistent offensive option all season, motioned out of his running back spot and left an empty backfield. That created a mismatch on the outside against O’Dowd’s man-to-man coverage, and Sanders found Robinson in stride for a stunning 73-yard touchdown strike.
That was only the beginning for Robinson. He would eventually add touchdown runs of 71, 71 and 57 yards, finishing the night with 207 rushing yards on just 11 carries. Sanders finished with three touchdown passes, the other two going to senior Angelo Forbes.
“I feel like we’re capable of anything we put our minds to as long as we stay locked in and keep playing for our brotherhood,” Robinson said. “I feel like we’re able to accomplish anything.”
As Logan celebrated its league title and looked forward to what lies ahead, the value of positivity and resilience was plain for all to see. It is a spirit embraced by both players and coaches and serves as a tangible reminder of exactly how the Colts came together to get to this point.
“Regardless of the situation, deaths in the family, COVID stuff, people being hurt, we still continued to play,” Smith said. “And the greatest thing was we continued to have fun every single day. That was the biggest thing — our guys smiling regardless of wins or losses.”
They certainly have reason to smile now.