The Heart of a Champion
The Heart of a Champion
by Leland Gordon
Chico State football is a thing of the past. It has been since the final snap of the ball in 1996.
One particular progeny, however, is still representing Wildcat football almost 25 years since he last donned a cardinal-and-white uniform at University Stadium.
Fullback Matt Logan took part in two seasons of Chico State football before graduating in 1990 and then moved along with his life, thinking his future was in sales. Building a nationally renowned high school football empire was nowhere on his radar when he accepted his business administration degree and started selling wine for Gallo Wine Company while living in Chico.
But he soon found that sales wasn’t what he wanted to do. Teaching was. So he ran with it, to spectacular results.
His change of heart has enhanced the lives of thousands of teenagers at Centennial High School in Corona (Riverside County), where he has entrenched himself as a football wizard and highly regarded physical education teacher.
“I realized [sales] wasn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my life,” says Logan, who is originally from Norco and spent two years at Fullerton Junior College. “I wanted to get back into football, and coaching was the avenue for me. I had to pick a major and chose business because that’s what my dad did. I figured everybody sold stuff, so I’d better.”
Opposing high school football coaches wish he would have stayed in sales.
Logan’s Huskies have reached the California Interscholastic Federation State Championship Bowl Games four times since the games began in 2006, second only to De La Salle of Concord. Centennial also finished one win short of the state title game last season. In his 17 seasons at Centennial, Logan has won eight CIF Southern Section titles and registered a 185-42 record.
His teams are known for their outrageous scoring totals year after year. In 2013, the Huskies set a national record with 946 yards of offense in an 86-56 playoff win and averaged more than 53 points per contest.
Year after year, he schedules the best teams in the state, and every year, Logan’s Huskies are title contenders. But it’s not the wins he cherishes most. It’s the improvement he sees in his players.
“Working with the kids is the most fun aspect of this,” says Logan, who earned his teaching credential at Cal State Fullerton. “I give the credit to the kids for meeting a certain level of expectations and the hard work it takes to be successful year in and year out.
“For me, it’s the ability to still compete even though you can’t as an athlete. You still get the competition aspect as a coach.”
The competition is brutal in the Southern California big-school football world, with a steady barrage of dazzling athletes and legendary coaches on the schedule each season. Logan’s strong leadership consistently gets his Huskies past those teams, and it also has helped his family endure through tragedy.
Logan’s wife, Donna, fought breast cancer for four years before dying in 2007, leaving Logan to care for their three daughters. The community rallied around the family, and the program still takes part in Think Pink month each year, wearing pink accessories with the normal red-and-black uniforms.
The team’s tribute went viral in 2012, when Logan’s daughter Sami suited up for the Huskies and entered a game, completing a pass to teammate Jordan Dye. That 18-yard hookup wasn’t just a girl completing a pass in a varsity football game (a rarity)—it was a connection between two kids who had lost their mothers to breast cancer. And it was national news.
“That wasn’t the goal at all,” notes Logan. “It was just a way for my daughter and myself to honor my wife and her mom, and other people who have gone through battles. Jordan lost his mom, too.”
Star power is something that Logan has brought upon himself, though he loves to deflect praise to the players and assistant coaches. Staying out of that spotlight is impossible for a man who has persevered through tragedy, established a prep football juggernaut, produced 2013 NFL tackles leader Vontaze Burfict, and played for Mike Bellotti (former Chico State head coach and current University of Oregon athletic director).
Matt Logan may not have run the pattern he expected, but this Wildcat alum definitely touched down at success.
Leland Gordon (BA, Journalism, ’06) is an editor for CBS Interactive site MaxPreps.com, “America’s Source for High School Sports.”