Logan • The cluster of out-of-town eighth-graders stared at Mike Favero as he enlightened the young quarterback and slew of receivers on the intricacies of his offense. For more than two hours, he sat down with the group of football players and explained in detail the advantages of the Logan spread offense.
The young quarterback staring up at the four-time state champion coach at the time was Luke Falk. His uncle was coaching in Logan then, and his Little League team from Farmington wanted to go see what the fuss was about.
That was years after Favero, one of the state’s preeminent offensive minds, went from a two-tailback 21-personnel state-championship-winning team to implementing an attack rarely — if ever — consistently seen in Utah.
Falk and his family eventually moved to the Cache Valley and, under the guidance of Favero, became part of the Logan High School quarterback fraternity. He demolished state records, penning his name into lore with his powerful right arm and the hands and legs of his talented wideouts.
“Once you’re a quarterback at Logan High, you just want to uphold your tradition at the position because you know of the names who came before you,” said Falk, who is a redshirt freshman quarterback at Washington State University under spread-offense guru Mike Leach.
Those names are etched into championship rings and record books, all due to the gutsy and timely switch to an identity uncommon in Utah in the early 2000s.
Thirteen years after making the spectrum-altering change, Grizzly quarterbacks litter the passing records in the Utah High School Activities Association’s record book.
In Friday’s 49-38 win over Roy, quarterback Chase Nelson shattered the state record for total yards in a game, topping older brother DJ’s record of 606 in 2011 with his 691-yard marvel against the Royals.
“Our offense is suited to the quarterback,” Favero said. “Like anything else, if you’re a great running team, you’re going to have a lot of kids wanting to play running back.”
It’s all about the guy in the shotgun at Logan.
But in the summer of 2001, Favero argued with assistant coaches about the future of the offense. They’d just beaten Haloti Ngata and the Highland Rams 14-0 in the 2000 Class 4A title game.
Problem No. 1: They had no quarterback.
The idea of putting returning starting running back Ryan Bohm in the shotgun was tossed around. Bohm grew up playing the position, but he hadn’t been a varsity quarterback. He helped lead the Grizzlies to a championship as a dynamic tailback.
“It was based on him running the football out of the quarterback position with a spread set,” Favero said.
“Nobody had ever seen the spread,” Bohm said. “We had three good receivers and a tight end my senior year. If people packed the box, we’d throw for 300 yards. If they didn’t, we’d run for 200 yards.”
Bohm went on to throw for 2,094 yards and rushed for 1,678 more in his lone season as a spread-offense quarterback. He accounted for 44 touchdowns.
Favero’s rolling of the dice worked. Since Bohm’s guinea-pig season in Logan’s spread, the program has become a breeding ground for top-flight high school talent at the quarterback position.
Designed quarterback runs, sweeps, screens, outs, ins, slants. The Logan offense ensures the entire field is in use for the quarterback to make the appropriate decision with the ball. And odds are more often than not someone will be open for a big play.
“He’s willing to work off the strengths he has,” Bohm said about Favero. “He’s one of the few coaches I know that can do that. He’s somebody who is willing to completely alter the game-plan according to the athletes he has.”
“It’s like a tidal wave if we get rolling,” Chase Nelson said. “It’s a great scheme, and hats off to our coaches, man. They do it year in and year out.”
Riley Nelson, a Logan legend molded from Favero’s spread offense, is back on Grizzly grounds. He’s leading an offense headlined by youngest brother Chase, a carbon copy lefty who lowers his head with force when a linebacker stands in the way.
The former BYU and Utah State quarterback brought validity to Favero’s spread offense in the mid 2000s when he led Logan to the 2005 Class 3A crown. His numbers that senior season were astronomical: He accounted for 84 touchdowns and more than 4,000 yards passing. He was a Parade All-American.
It was due to the 7 a.m. meetings to break down film three times a week for 40 minutes with Favero. Then there was more time after practice.
“That’s where the genius lies,” Riley Nelson said. “He’s just a great motivator of kids and he knows the game extremely well. The foundation of his philosophy is to always be in the right call, whether it’s the quarterback or himself calling the play.”
Following in the first footprints set by Bohm a few years earlier, Riley Nelson’s inconceivable statistics paved the way for several Division I quarterbacks to emerge from the program.
Jeff Manning won the 2007 crown and now is a quarterback at Utah State.
DJ Nelson, currently serving an LDS mission in Puerto Rico, will quarterback at Utah State upon his return. He won a state title in 2011.
Falk, after originally committing to Cornell, had a shot to go to Pullman, Wash., to learn and play under Leach, and he took it.
The success bred in Logan’s specialty offense is more than just wins in high school or state rings on a hand. It’s meticulous and it’s time consuming. Even after they’ve moved on, former quarterback see the originality of it all.
“Honestly, some teams just switch to the spread, but they don’t run it properly,” Falk said. “Logan does. That’s what Favero does at Logan every single year.”
That seamless wheel of guys in the shotgun continues to turn. Even Pee Wee players in Grizzly territory grow up learning concepts of what it means to oversee the spread concepts.
But Favero doesn’t require it.
“It’s really hard to get a third-grader to gun snap and go through all that,” he said.
Odds are someone, somewhere is working on it, waiting for his shot.
10 years of Logan QBs
Year Quarterback Record
2013 Chase Nelson
2012 Luke Falk 8-3
2011 DJ Nelson 14-0*
2010 Luke Falk 8-3
2009 Tyler Stevens 3-7
2008 Jeff Manning 9-3
2007 Jeff Manning 12-2*
2006 Chaz Housley 7-5
2005 Riley Nelson 13-1*
2004 Riley Nelson 6-7
* — state champion
A list of state records held by Logan quarterbacks under Mike Favero’s spread offense:
Passing attempts in a game
No. 2 • Luke Falk, 70 vs. Box Elder, Oct. 12, 2012
No. 4 • Tyler Stevens, 66 vs. Judge Memorial, Sept. 30, 2009
No. 6 • Luke Falk, 61 vs. Sky View, Sept. 28, 2012
No. 7 • Luke Falk, 60 vs. Roy, Sept. 21, 2012
No. 9 • Luke Falk, 59 vs. Mountain Crest, Oct. 5, 2012
Passing attempts in season
No. 1 • 562 Luke Falk, Logan, 2012
No. 3 • 474 Tyler Stevens, Logan, 2009
No. 6 • 427 DJ Nelson, Logan, 2011
Passing completions in a game
No. 2 • 43 Tyler Stevens, Logan vs. Judge Memorial (2009)
No. 3 • Luke Falk, Logan vs Sky View (2012)
No. 4 • Riley Nelson, Logan vs. Bear River (2005)
Passing completions in a season
No. 1 • 330 Luke Falk, Logan, 2012
No. 4 • 277 Riley Nelson, Logan, 2005
Passing touchdowns in a season
T-1 • 53 Riley Nelson, Logan, 2005
No. 3 • 49 DJ Nelson, Logan, 2011
Passing yards in a season
No. 2 • 4,041 Riley Nelson, Logan, 2005
No. 7 • 3,618 Luke Falk, Logan, 2012
Total offense in a season
No. 1 • 5,842 Riley Nelson, Logan, 2005
No. 2 • 5,096 DJ Nelson, Logan, 2011
Touchdown responsible for in a career
T-1 • 130 Riley Nelson, Logan, 2003-2005
No. 3 • 103 DJ Nelson, Logan, 2009-2011
Source: Utah High School Activities Association record book