By GREG MAST
Special to The Telegram
OTTAWA — Logan Schultz had as much impact on a game as any Ottawa University football player the past four seasons.
He has not received the same accolades as some of the others, but his teammates, coaches and opponents understood how much he has meant to the Braves.
The senior free safety was the quarterback of the defense. He spent hours studying opponents during the week so he could put the defense in the right set.
"He is a direct extension of coach (Josh) Homolka on the field," Ottawa head coach Kent Kessinger said. "Logan meant a lot. He is the first player that I ever had come out of high school early. He is a smart player."
Kessinger said Schultz had Friends University dialed up really good, calling out their plays as they lined up. Ottawa set school records for interceptions (7) and turnovers (9) in the 35-3 victory on Senior Day at Peoples Bank Field.
Senior defensive lineman Zach Van Duesen said Schultz made it easier for him to play.
"It is like having a coach on the field," Van Duesen said. "He can call the plays on the field just about as good as coach Homolka. It is a load off my shoulders. I can be told where to go and play."
Van Duesen said it was amazing how he called out the plays Friends were running.
"He knew the playbook better than them," he said. "He had them queued up. He watches so much film during the week that when it is game time, it is muscle memory."
Schultz spent 15 to 20 hours a week studying opponents. He took it upon himself to be the quarterback of the defense.
"This is something I thought the free safety should do because you are in the middle of the field," he said. "From your freshman to senior year, the game slows down quite a bit for you. You learn so much about schemes and sets. You become smarter about the game. It is pretty easy to play the game when you know what is coming before it is coming."
Kessinger said Missouri Valley coach Paul Troth paid a tribute to Schultz prior to Saturday's playoff game in Marshall, Mo. Troth called Schultz a player that flies around and makes plays.
All he did was collect three interceptions — the second time he did that this season — and put his small body (5-foot-10, 160 pounds) into the fray.
Despite that size deficiency, Schultz played big in the secondary. His 12 thefts (1.2 average) topped the NAIA charts this year and he ranked seventh nationally in passes defended per game (1.5).
Kessinger said Schultz has a lot of football savvy in him.
"He does not shy away from going up against the big guys," Kessinger said. "He played with everything he had. He gave it 100 percent in on every play."
Schultz broke the career interception record with 20. The old mark was 19 held by All-American Roy Salas (1999-2002) and Robert Winn (1969-1972). He 12 interceptions this season ranks second for a single season in school history.
"That was great," senior linebacker Matt Gross said. "I am proud of him."
Schultz is a three-time Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-American. He will earn a degree in accounting from Ottawa next spring.
"He has worked hard in the classroom as well," Gross, who joined him on the Capital One CoSIDA Academic Region 6 team this year, said.
This year's Ottawa team posted an 8-3 record, losing in the opening round of the NAIA playoffs to No. 2-ranked powerhouse Missouri Valley. The Braves lost their first two games of the regular season by a combined 10 points before reeling off eight consecutive wins to capture the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference title. Schultz was one of two Braves' secondary players — the other KCAC Defensive Player of the Year Donald Anderson — to be named all-conference.
There has been six family members to play football for the Braves. The tradition started in the 1970s with uncles Gene (1972-74) and Greg (1976-1977). Then Logan's dad Gerald (1977-1980) played for the Braves. His mother, Loretta, also attended Ottawa.
Brother Zach played from 2006-2009 and cousin Corey (2008-2009) was an All-American receiver for the 2009 team, which had program-best 11-1 record and won the only playoff game in school history.
"They were all good players," Kessinger said. "His dad was a good player. Corey was an All-American. Zach was a three-year starter for us."
Greg was the first recipient of the Dick Peters award, which is given to a player that demonstrates dedication to football, in 1977. Gerald won the award in 1980.
Even with all that family history, Logan was not swayed when making his college decision.
"I did not think about it when I came," he said. "It was more because of Zach and Corey. I got to play another season with my brother and cousin. There have been a lot of Schultzes come through and play football for Ottawa University. Three generations. It is something we have all done. It is has been a good time. I've had a good career."
Southwest Kansas connection
Schultz is just one of several players from southwest Kansas on the Ottawa roster.
Others include his former Garden City High teammate, John Le, who transferred from Dodge City Community College; Reno Armstrong of Lakin; Coltin Ghumm of Hugoton; and Kellan Hernandez of Meade.