Logan Gilliard vital to Bigfork offensive, defensive success

BIGFORK — Bigfork is still unbeaten with just two games remaining on its regular-season schedule. A huge reason for the Vikings’ success has been the play of senior Logan Gilliard.

“Logan is an ultimate competitor,” Bigfork head coach Todd Emslie said. “That kid, he’s one of the better football players I’ve ever coached. He gets in there, he doesn’t quit. He just competes to the end. Any place he goes to play college football, they’re going to be glad to have him.”

An all-state football and basketball player, Gilliard is among the team’s best athletes. However, he isn’t used as a skill-position player on offense. Instead, he anchors the offensive line from the center position, just as he does the defense at middle linebacker.

While he’s the smallest member of the Bigfork offensive line, Gilliard’s impact on the Vikings’ offense is best felt up front.

“He’s such a leader up there,” running back Randy Stultz said of Gilliard on the offensive line. “His size doesn’t really matter to him. He’s just a baller. I love to run behind him. He makes those holes and is just a leader on the line.”

“It’s definitely fun. You’ve got to like playing offensive line or you’re just not going to be any good,” Gilliard said. “You’ve just got to have that grit, I guess.”

Defensively, Gilliard is a tackling machine. He’s piled up 33 solo tackles and an interception this season, barely playing in the second half of most games due to blowout scores. He credits his teammates for doing their jobs and allowing him to fill the right gaps, but a lot of what he does can’t be taught.

“It’s got to be a lot of instincts,” Gilliard said of playing middle linebacker. “They just drill it into your mind at practice, so it has got to be second-nature. I’ll just tell you what my linebacker coaches tell me — just key on the tackles and the center, they’ll tell you where the play is going.”

“Gilliard is just an animal on defense, too. Just an all-around athlete,” Stultz said. “Having him in there in the middle stuffing those holes means a lot. We’ve got to give a lot of credit to him.”

The combination of Gilliard’s instincts and fit in the defensive scheme have allowed him to rack up numerous tackles and disrupt opposing offenses. Up front, he opens up massive running lanes for Stultz and Luke Taylor.

The play of Gilliard has Bigfork as the top-ranked team in Class B and on the cusp if its first conference title since 2014. Bigfork plays Missoula Loyola in the Western B’s de facto conference championship on Friday.

Alec Bofinger

Alec Bofinger

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