If there's one Lummi Blackhawk coach Jim Sandusky would want with the ball in the game's final moments, fifth-year player Logan Toby would be his choice.
There's a myriad of reasons, but it boils down to his football intelligence, love for teammates and overall leadership.
He's a devout student of the game, a steadfast football analyst. When Toby leaves practice, he brings home a DVD copy of game film made by Sandusky. When others are eating lunch at school, he can be found studying his next opponent, lunch by his side.
"He learns really quick," Sandusky said in a phone interview. "He learns from his mistakes. When we watch film of him or somebody else, he is quick to point out his mistake or someone else's or what needs to be done. He's a student of the game in that regard."
Sandusky has been fortunate in the past to coach a number of skilled Lummi quarterbacks, each who've displayed different skill sets, but what's most obvious about Toby is his commitment and drive to set himself and his teammates up for success.
He'll look to advance Lummi to the state semifinals when the Blackhawks face Wishkah Valley during the Class 1B State Playoff quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at Stewart Field in Aberdeen.
Toby's experience within the Blackhawks' offense is vast. Now a senior, he's played since eighth grade and has started games under center since his sophomore year. His knowledge has helped navigate Lummi's offense to 54.4 points per game. He's thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 24 touchdown passes with only four interceptions.
"I pretty much put a lot of time into the offense and watching game film," Toby acknowledged. "I've been playing here since eighth grade and know the offense really well. It hasn't changed too much besides adding a play here and there."
Toby estimated between school and home he spends three to four hours a day watching film.
The extra work not only has benefitted his own development, it puts his teammates in the best position to succeed on game nights and enables Sandusky to have a whole lot of confidence in his senior QB.
"I think it's a huge benefit," said Sandusky of having a quarterback of Toby's background leading his offense. "You can be at least rest assured he knows how to get the offense going and get guys in the right place. He doesn't need as much guidance on the field as young guys would."
Toby's dedication in the film room comes from his desire to see success for his brothers who have a close bond in Lummi's tight-knit community.
"That's one of the main reasons," Toby said. "We are all family, and we love each other. Basically I'm related to everyone on here somehow through my parents, and it's pretty cool playing with your family, playing hard for your family and having respect for your family."
Toby has a quiet confidence about him and is a great student and kid in the community, Sandusky said. He isn't a fiery leader but leads by example. At the same time, he isn't afraid to call out teammates who aren't working hard or doing things the right way.
His poise shows up in games, and his unwavering demeanor tends to steady the Blackhawks. He's ability to tune out and focus in isn't innate, though. His unflappable nature is a learned skill.
"Just the pressure and getting a hold of the pressure," said Toby of his largest development playing quarterback. "I've had (pressure) at a young age. I got put on varsity basketball my freshman year, and that has helped me handle the pressure."
Being a good game-manager and not letting the moment get too big coincides with taking care of the football, and Sandusky has seen Toby make a concerted effort not to turn the ball over.
Sandusky said Toby covers the ball with two hands when he scrambles. He knows as well as Sandusky does, if the Blackhawks don't turn the ball over, few teams can beat them.
"When we win the turnover battle, we are undefeated," Sandusky said. "Just looking back the last three, four years, that's a huge thing for us, and that's one of the keys for us."
His knowledge of the game extends to the defensive side of the ball, too. He plays defensive end, linebacker and has even played in the Blackhawks' secondary. Sandusky admitted there's an inherent injury risk his starting signal-caller takes on playing defense, but that speaks to how valuable Toby is to Lummi on that side of the ball.
While he's been slowly groomed to play quarterback, spot starting the past two years before becoming Lummi's featured QB this fall, Sandusky knew early Toby would be a good player.
Sandusky witnessed Toby's promise during a junior varsity when he was an eighth-grader. Toby has put together games with five and six TD tosses, but even those performances may not have compared to the game Sandusky saw.
"He had one of the best JV football games at quarterback," explained the Lummi coach. "That game he was stepping up and avoiding sacks and getting the ball to wide receivers in places that were pretty tight. It was really impressive. I thought, 'This might be the best game I've seen a quarterback play at varsity or JV.'"
Sandusky is certainly hoping Toby will have another such game against this Saturday against Wishkah Valley.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
LUMMI AT WISHKAH VALLEY
Time: 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23
Site: Stewart Field in Aberdeen
Blackhawks update: No. 4-ranked Lummi beat Taholah 70-28 during the second round of the Class 1B Bi-District Playoffs last week. The Blackhawks' offense thrived off its run game, amassing 271 yards and six touchdowns on 19 carries. Deion Hoskins ran for 88 yards and two TDs, and Devin Cooper added 91 yards and another two scores. Lummi scored touchdowns on each of its three pass completions, scoring from 39, 54 and 26 yards out.
Loggers update: Wishkah Valley (8-2) beat Lopez 54-37 during the second round of the Class 1B Bi-District Playoffs last week. Senior Keigan Gardiner scored four touchdowns, and running back Bo Barber ran for 188 yards and scores. Wishkah's offense amassed 426 total yards, 243 rushing and 183 passing. The Loggers rallied from a first-half deficit to outscore Lopez 32-12 during the second half.
Player to watch: Devin Cooper averaged 18.2 yards per carry last week and gives the Blackhawks a good one-two punch with Deion Hoskins.
Key to the game: If Lummi values possessions and takes care of the ball, the Blackhawks should be able to dispatch Wishkah Valley.
Herald's pick: Lummi 58-38
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.