Catching up on Speaking of Sports
By Jim Turner


Posted on December 30, 2019 10:19 AM



 

Catching up on lots of overdue sports articles as this decade comes to an end;

Oh, Football Night

The evening of Nov. 8, 2019 could/maybe should be remembered as (one of) the greatest nights in local football history.

Admittedly, there have been countless meaningful home games in the 85 seasons of Panther football. You don’t win three state championships and reach three other state finals without recording monumental victories along the way. And although the Cougars have only been playing varsity football for 36 seasons, they’ve had some big wins, especially in recent years. In fact, Logan didn’t even win this game.

Yet on this first evening of the 2019 KHSAA Playoffs, in stadiums about three miles apart in the Russellville area, local guys went to battle in games of great importance that had remarkable significance not only for the present but also for the future.

Logan suffered a 35-28 loss, but it came to a very good Madisonville-North Hopkins team which had lost only two games—one of them to the Cougars on a last-second touchdown pass in Madisonville and the other to a Mayfield team that reached the Class 2A state finals. The next week, the Maroons beat two-time defending state champion Franklin-Simpson. (Franklin’s seniors ended a four-year postseason with a record of 17-2.)

Logan fans had gone into the game fearing the worst, since it was unlikely that the most effective quarterback in Cougar history would be able to play. Senior Tyler Ezell, who had started every game but one in the last four years, had missed the second half of a loss to South Warren the week before and his status was unknown. He didn’t start against M-NH but came in and played courageously, although his mobility was greatly impaired.

The good news for the Cougars—in addition to how hard they fought against the odds—was the performance of junior Braxton Baptiste, who started at quarterback. Baptiste engineered all four of the Cougars’ touchdown drives in this game, scoring two of them himself. There had been concern that Logan’s excellence the last three seasons (29-6) would be hard to continue without a proven quarterback. Baptiste proved himself on this night.

Now Logan fans can spend the offseason with reason to believe the turnaround can continue, especially with Coach Todd Adler and his staff continuing to work their magic.

At Russellville’s Rhea Stadium that night, the Panthers withstood repeated comebacks by Caverna to win their Class 1A opener. The Panthers advanced in the playoffs with at least one win for the 14th straight season.

The year certainly didn’t start that way. After struggling to a 5-7 record last year, the Panthers lost their first six games this season. Also in the last two years, RHS boys basketball had gone 15-36 and baseball 4-42. In head-to-head Clashes with Logan County in the last two and a half years (football, boys and girls basketball, girls and boys soccer, girls and boys tennis, volleyball, baseball and softball), RHS has won only four times—twice in boys tennis, once in softball and once in girls basketball. Rumblings were getting louder, asking if Russellville’s enrollment had gotten so low that it could no longer field competitive teams.

Then Coach Mikie Benton’s football team turned its season around. The Panthers won four of their next five games, including the playoff victory. Along the way sophomore quarterback Lennon Ries became more focused and effective. Since he already had a strong arm and excellent athletic instincts, this gives hope for the future, especially since none of the four seniors was an offensive starter.

This Night of Football was entertaining in the present and promising for the future for both programs.

Additionally encouraging is news that Ezell has been welcomed as a preferred walk-on at Centre College. It had appeared that Ezell’s lack of height would preclude him from playing college football despite his throwing for a couple of miles of yardage and a truckload of touchdowns.

Ezell was one of six Cougars named to the All-Southern Kentucky first and second teams. In fact, he was the first-team quarterback while being compared with signal callers from several traditional area and state powerhouses.

Two other Cougars were first team. They were senior defensive bac Zay Evans and junior wide receiver Anthony ‘Rooster’ Woodard. Second teamers were senior running back Gary Hardy, junior linebacker Zach Yates and junior defensive lineman Logan Gipson.

The only team with more honorees was Bowling Green with 10. Greenwood tied LCHS with six while South Warren, Warren East and Allen County-Scottsville had five each. Barren County added four, Franklin three and Warren Central one.

The LoJo

The centerpiece of Logan County football’s remarkable turnaround in the 2017 and 2018 seasons—linebacker/lineman Cayden McKinnis—had a front row seat for Austin Peay State University’s sensational season this fall. McKinnis was a redshirt freshman for the record-setting set of Governors.

APSU won its first Ohio Valley Conference football championship in 42 years and won two postseason games before falling to Montana State in the quarterfinals. It led to the Governors’ first-ever appearance in the Football Championship Series since joining NCAA Division I FCS Division. From 2013 to 2016, the Governors were the nation’s worst program, going 1-45, starting a losing streak that reached 29 games in 2017. This year they went 11-4.

Although McKinnis was held out from competition and still has four years of eligibility. He played on the scout teams, both offense and defense, allowing him to learn a number of offenses and defenses while getting another year of physical maturity.

“I think it’s special that Cayden got to be a part of ending the Cougars’ losing streak and the next two (21-3) seasons, and now he’s part of the Governor’s turnaround,” says his mom, Kristie McKinnis.

There’s another Logan County Connection with the Govs. Receiver Deangelo Wilson was named first-team HERO Sports All-American. He is the son of two LCHS alums, Sue Miller and De Wilson, who was the quarterback from the Joseph Jefferson-led “A-Town Posse” in the late 90s.

As a tremendous athlete for the Bowling Green High Purples, he became well-known in the area and the state three years ago when he was first-team All-State for Coach Kevin Wallace’s 5A state championship football team and All-State Tournament for Coach D.G. Sherill’s state champion basketball team.

The junior wideout put together what the Bowling Green Daily News calls “the finest season by a receiver in (APSU) program history. He finished with 89 catches for 1,564 yards and 15 touchdowns, all three school records. The postseason saw him make 21 catches and 3 touchdowns.

The LoJo

Another APSU/Logan Connection: First-year head coach Mark Hudspeth, who was an assistant coach at Mississippi State the last two years, followed Will Healy, who had coached the start of the turnaround in Clarksville.

Meanwhile, Healy had moved on to North Carolina Charlotte, which won the Sun Belt Conference championship. The 49ers are headed to the Bahamas Bowl on Dec. 30.

A member of Healy’s coaching staff is Student Intern Special Teams Coach Landon Stratton, a former three-sport standout at LCHS. After having a great career punting for Murray State University, last year Stratton was a member of the University of Georgia Bulldogs which played Alabama in the SEC championship game.

The LoJo

LCHS Athletics has become so successful in recent years that sometimes it seems a college signing ceremony is staged each week. Two recent signings are of special significance because of their family ties.

Brea Croslin decided the best place for her future is Murray State University. The Lady Cougars have produced two NCAA Division 1 players, and both have gone to MSU. The first was Erica Meguiar, who transferred to Racerland after having been a starter for the University of the Cumberlands. Croslin had committed to the University of Illinois of the Big Ten as a sophomore, but she renounced that decision a few weeks before choosing Murray.

Croslin has put together a remarkable career on the softball diamond. After starting for Russellville as a fifth and sixth grader, she will soon begin her sixth season as a starter for the Lady Cougars. I don’t think any other athlete in a revenue sport (those which require attendees to pay gate admission) has lettered eight straight seasons in any other sport. She has not only lettered, but she’s also been a starter for eight years and has played very well.

Brea has lived sports all her life. Her mom, Dedra “DK” Basham Adler, was a successful basketball coach for the Russellville Lady Panthers. She is now an assistant basketball coach at LCHS. DK was a college basketball player after a good career as a Lady Cougar. Bre’s grandfather, Donnie Basham, officiated basketball in her youth.

She is the step-daughter of Coach Todd Adler, who was named state football coach of the year in 2017. Growing up in his home has helped her understand what is involved in not only building the Cougars into a successful team but changing the entire program into a winning atmosphere.

Brea’s father is Matthew Croslin, who pitched very well for the Panthers in the late 90s. His clash in the 1999 district baseball finals featured one of the greatest pitching duel’s in local history. The guy on the mound for Franklin-Simpson was Joe Blanton, who went on to have a solid major league pitching career. Matthew played college baseball. Brea’s grandfather, Ronnie “Pee Wee” Croslin, was a good athlete for RHS in the 1970s.

Braxton Meguiar signed to play baseball for Wabash Valley in the highly competitive Illinois junior college system. Braxton is a great hitter, probably the purest hitter in a Logan County baseball uniform since Jimmy Shoulders in the mid-90s. An all-stater last season, Meguiar put together a hitting streak that is the second-longest in state history.

Braxton is the son of long-time Cougar baseball coach Ethan Meguiar, who was inducted into the state baseball coaches Hall of Fame last year. Ethan has also coached a state golf champion and was a basketball assistant coach. With his mother Nicole an outstanding athlete at Allen County-Scottsville High School, Braxton has grown up living and breathing sports, especially baseball.

Braxton’s cousins have enjoyed good high school sports careers. They include Eric Meguiar, Erica Meguiar, Michael Meguiar, Lori Meguiar Bouldin, Ann-Meguiar Bouldin, Daniel Pardue, Davis Pardue, Kapreshia Powell, Reggie Powell, Cody Zibart, Carson Zibart, Chase Proctor and Madison Chasteen. His considerably older cousin, Tim Riley, is one of the most successful basketball coaches in Kentucky history, and his uncle, Mickey Meguiar, is in the Russellville Athletic Hall of Fame. Uncle Dennis Pardue andcousin Steve Riley have had great coaching success, and cousin Monroe Joiner was athletic director during some of Bowling Green High’s most successful years.

Ethan Meguiar, Dedra Adler and Todd Adler have helped many athletes earn college sports scholarships. It’s great to see their own children succeed on the playing field and get great opportunities to play in college.

The LoJo

Baseball coaching staffs have undergone changes for the upcoming season. Tyler Meacham has not only relinquished head coaching duties of the Panthers, but he is now teaching at LCHS and has been added to Meguiar’s staff. Meacham was a standout baseball player at RHS before his graduation in 2007.

On the other hand, Robby McLellan, who was one of the original baseball Cougars after starring at Olmstead, is now the Panthers’ head coach. He has been a highly respected teacher at RHS for several years.

Meguiar has announced other coaching changes for the Cougars: Meacham takes the place of Jordan Dobbs, who helped coach for the past two seasons. Daniel McCarthy, who has been head middle school coach, and assistant Kyle Pendleton, both also resigned. Kelley Jordan has been hired as the head coach and Chris Cartas the assistant to run the middle school baseball program.

The LoJo

Brian Holloman, who had a solid career as a quarterback and baseball player for Logan County in the mid-90s, has been named to the Kentucky Middle School Coaches Hall of Fame.

His proud parents are Richard and Louise Holloman, who have played such big roles in supporting and honoring LCHS athletes and coaches.

The following is the mini-biography of Brian which was part of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony:

Brian Holloman began his football coaching career in 1997 at his high school alma mater, Logan County High School. He worked with quarterbacks and secondary. Brian coached at LCHS until 1999. After coaching at LCHS, Brian moved to Anderson County where he coached one year at Anderson County High School. In 2001, he took over as defensive coordinator for Anderson County Middle School and served in this role for 8 years. He stepped into the head coach position in 2009 and has been with the Mustangs ever since. As head coach, he has had many successful seasons and has a current record of 72-38. Brian has also served as head coach for the 8th grade and 7th grade KY Middle School All Star games and assisted with the game for many years. Outside of football, Brian enjoys spending time with his wife Ashley, coaching his sons Weston and Collin, and being wrapped around the fingers of his girls, Haley, Blair, and Dylan. Coach Holloman is a die-hard Cowboys fan, but we won’t let that keep him from being inducted.

The LoJo

Isaac Powell—son of Bryan and Missy Powell--will begin playing baseball at Campbellsville University this spring. He is the first homeschool student in 40 years to be signed to play at Campbellsville.

They live in Auburn. Bryan is the pastor at Liberty Baptist. Isaac has been playing travel ball for the Clarksville Orioles. He also played with a homeschool team out of Nashville, the Middle Tennessee Heat.

Isaac is the grandson of retired Post Oak Baptist Church Pastor Wilbur Powell and his wife Mary. He is the nephew of Auburn School Guidance Counselor Rhonda Powell.

Bryan Powell was an outstanding baseball player for Franklin-Simpson while his dad was preaching in Simpson County.

 




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