Apollo-Ridge’s Logan Harmon eager for camp after injury-shortened 2018 season

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Saturday, August 10, 2019 | 6:30 PM


When turning his attention to Monday morning — the start of official preseason practices for high school football teams throughout the WPIAL — a big smile came across Logan Harmon’s face.

“I don’t know how much I will be able to sleep (Sunday night),” the Apollo-Ridge junior said. “I will probably be up thinking a lot about it. But I am really excited. It’s real now. I am really ready to go and ready for the season to start.”

Harmon, a 210-pound battering ram at running back who also uses his physicality at middle linebacker, said his excitement stems from the opportunity the Vikings have to return to the WPIAL playoffs after a two-year hiatus.

He and several other returning starters hope to turn around last year’s 2-8 overall record and 1-5 mark in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference.

“We’re working as a team, and I believe we can make it really far this year,” said Harmon, last year’s leading rusher with 400 yards and six touchdowns on 83 carries despite missing four games with a concussion. “We know our schedule’s going to be challenging again, but we’ve worked really hard to get ready.

“Everyone was in the weight room in the offseason, and we had good numbers on the field all summer. I want to get to the playoffs. We want to get to the playoffs.”

Harmon, who also finished second in the team in tackles (52) last season, knows a key factor for a team the size of Apollo-Ridge is the ability to stay healthy. He said he understands the risk he takes playing at such physical positions.

“I am going full speed every time,” Harmon said. “If I don’t, I am asking to get rocked. You can’t worry about getting hurt. You have to keep moving forward in the safest way possible and hope everything works out in the end.”

Harmon said he was miserable during the time he was out of action last year.

“It was an awful feeling watching my teammates go out there knowing I couldn’t be there with them,” he said. “I cheered them on as much as I could, but I just wish I could’ve been out there fighting.”

He returned for the Vikings’ final two games. In the season finale, a 34-24 nonconference loss to eventual Class 2A semifinalist Charleroi, he carried the ball 21 times for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns and added a team-best 14 tackles.

“When I got back out there, I was so excited and had such an adrenaline rush,” Harmon said. “I was ready. It was the last couple of games, and I wanted to play so bad. I wanted to put those weeks I couldn’t play behind me.”

Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said the time off the field last year reminded him of Harmon’s value.

“Logan brings so much leadership,” Skiba said.

“When he’s out there pushing and working hard, the other guys, especially the younger guys, take notice of that. They know he is going to be a guy that leads them through thick and thin because he’s been through a lot and has come back from a lot.

“We pray we can keep him healthy, because when he’s out there or not out there, there is a huge difference in what we are able to do offensively and defensively. There’s also a big difference in the demeanor of the team. He gives the team so much confidence when he’s on the field.”

Harmon carried momentum into the offseason preparation and also into his first year as a WPIAL wrestler. He joined the Armstrong program in a co-op and went 22-6 with a fifth-place finish at 195 pounds at WPIAL Class AAA tournament.

“Logan is constantly working and constantly moving,” Skiba said. “He also wrestles a ton, even throughout the summer. He doesn’t have down time. He’s physically fit because he’s constantly moving his body. He pushes himself to an extreme all the time. He enjoys being in that position and in that atmosphere. When there’s an opportunity for physical activity, he loves it.”

Harmon said he understands and relishes his leadership role. As a freshman, he said he appreciated the guidance of and example set by players such as then-seniors Kyle Fitzroy and Cody Peace.

The knowledge gleaned helped him produce 618 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 90 carries through nine games. He added a team-leading 68 tackles.

“It was fun that year,” Harmon said, “I learned a lot. Hopefully, now I am one of those guys who is able to pass down some knowledge and advice to the younger guys.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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