COLUMBIA — During the 1960s, the Jefferson City football team went 92-5 and was among the most successful teams in the nation. When Odon Logan and Hickman defeated the Jays in 1966, handing the school its first loss in 71 games, Logan became a legend. On Wednesday, he returned to the field on which he once set records to speak to the current team.
Logan, 60, said he hopes his speech will help the Hickman football players on the eve of the Providence Bowl.
"I'm trying to help bring back a winning tradition to Hickman," Logan said. "You've got to have a sense of pride and responsibility. When you play on the football team, the rest of the school looks up to you as a leader."
Logan knows the feeling. Although he played more than 40 years ago, he is still a revered figure in Hickman football history.
"Anyone who's gone to Hickman knows about Odon Logan leading the Kewpies to beat Jeff City," Hickman defensive coordinator Arnell Monroe said. "We have what I call the long purple line of tradition at Hickman, and Don's a big part of that."
After high school, Logan played at Missouri Southern State University for a year before spending two years in the military. Once out of the service, he tried to get back into football through tryouts with the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles, but didn't make the cut.
Now, after returning to the town where he was born and raised, he understands the need for a supportive fan base.
"It takes community involvement. They need to be there to support the team and help out any way they can," Logan said.
The Kewpies will have a large fan base on hand when they play Rock Bridge on Thursday, and Hickman head coach Jason Wright said he thinks his team hasn't yet reached its full potential.
"I still don't think they know how good they can be," he said after Wednesday afternoon's practice. "We need everyone buying in to what we're trying to accomplish."
"There is no pressure," Wright said, "because even though half the town wants us to lose, half of it wants us to win."
If the Kewpies can conjure the competitive spirit of Odon Logan, their chances aren't half bad.