Speaking of Sports dividing special years by 5
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 2021 4:47 PM


As 2020 came to a universally popular end, my statistics-driven, trivia-loving mind has been churning again.

Historically, many years which are divisible by five—ending in five or zero—have been memorable and historic in Land of Logan sports.

Examples follow:


Russellville High School fielded its first football team. The first-ever game was played on Sept. 12, 1935 under the coaching of L.R. ‘Squee’ Squier. The Panthers gave up an early touchdown to Lafayette, Tenn., in that game and then, according to News-Democrat Editor Byrne Evans, out-played the experienced Tennesseans the rest of the game, a 7-0 loss.

Members of the team included Bill Noe, Tom Rhea Jr., Granville Clark, Claude Tipton, George Willis, Byrne Evans Jr., Paul Summers, Roland C. Beasley, Donald Cornelius, John Orndorff, Bill Mac Richardson, Charles Kelly, Marion Herndon, John H. Edwards, Lewis Watts, Glenn Beckham, Joe Beckham, Andrew Reynolds, Hal Thurmond, L.C. Moss, George Beasley, Robert Kirkpatrick, Harreld Kirkpatrick, Neal Markham, and Earl Martin Gordon. Winston Statton was the manager. Principal J.F. Tanner helped with the coaching.

Most of the businessmen in town gathered at Andrews Drug Store to offer their advice, making them the first Quarterback Club.


The first full season of Russellville football at Rhea Stadium was played this year. The season began with Thomas S. Rhea, for whom the stadium is named, being honored for getting the funding from his friend, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to build the stadium as a WPA project. The guest speaker was Coach Ed Diddle of Western Kentucky State Teachers College.

Mr. Rhea’s youngest son, Roland Clark ‘Judge’ Rhea, was the Panther quarterback. Future Hall of Famer William Owen Chapman was the star back. Lineman John Williams became the first Panther all-stater the next year.

Other team members included Clifton ‘Stooley’ Davis, Robert Hughes, Clarence Kurtsinger, co-captain Ernest Sears, Shirley Pillow, Bradley Coffman, and co-captain Earl Martin Gordon, who was on the first team as a seventh grader.

Williams and Chapman were named among the 50 Greatest Panthers.

The coach was El Donaldson, who coached the Panthers six years before heading to Bowling Green to coach the Purples. The stadium BGH used through this state championship season has immortalized his name.


The Panthers, who were chosen as the Greatest Team in conjunction with the 50 Greatest Panthers in Russellville football history a few years ago, made their home at Rhea Stadium in 1950. They earned that honor!

Coach Jimmy Haynes’ team went 10-0 and was ranked second overall in the state. There were no classifications or playoff system in those days. Leaders of number one Paducah Tilghman—a much larger school than RHS—refused to play the Panthers to determine a true state champion.

The most honored players among the Golden Panthers were tackle Larry Ludwig and running back/linebacker Jim Sanford. End Huey Hinton joined them on the All-Southern Kentucky team.

Other key players were backs Howard Wren, Charles ‘Bunk’ O’Brien, Rex Johnson, Glenn Pate and Bobby Goodwin along with Sanford. The end opposite Hinton was Joe Hardy. Linemen joining Ludwig were James Holman, Maynard ‘Blackie’ Elfman, Charles Dennison, Henry Moss and freshman center Ray Gaw.  Another freshman, Bob Ballance, saw extensive action as a reserve lineup.

All the starters besides Wren, Hinton, Gaw and Dennison were seniors, and many of them had played together for years.

Sanford, Holman, Ludwig and Hinton were named among the 50 Greatest Panther Football Players. Wren helped coach all but one of the state finalist teams, and the opening home football game of each season honors him and fellow assistant Buddy Linton, the 1949 captain.


The Auburn Tigers reached the regional basketball finals for the first time. Coach Red Garrison’s team beat Adairville in the county finals and Lewisburg in the district finals before falling 39-37 to Tompkinsville in the regional championship game. Future Auburn Principal and Russellville Superintendent Jim Young was the star of that Adairville team. Future Chandlers coach Gordon Pogue was the Lewisburg standout.

At Auburn, senior Claude Ashby joined future Hall of Famer Jimmy Nuchols as All-County performers, and many of the key Tigers in Auburn’s state quarterfinalist run the following year were part of this 1950 team. They included Kenneth ‘Chico’ Harper, Alvin ‘Hootenannie’ Hughes, Bobby Johnson, John Marbury, Allie Fugate, Pete Hunt, Wilbur Cauley, Guy Collins and J.W. Rogers.

Nuchols had an excellent college career on the East Coast. Harper served multiple terms as Simpson County Judge-Executive. Hunt may hold the Logan County record for haircuts administered.


The district basketball tournament was played in Olmstead’s new $125,000 gymnasium, instead of at Russellville. Olmstead’s long-time gym had been destroyed by fire. Hall of Fame coach Earle Shelton had a superstar in Riley Holliday leading his Olmstead team, but the Ramblers were edged 61-59 by Adairville, which was led by future Cardinal coach Bill Davis’ 27 points.

An outstanding Russellville team beat Adairville 58-53 in the finals. Playing for the Panthers were Hall of Famers Dicky Bagby, George Hill, Wayne Mullen and Lon Sosh along with Marvin Carnall, Dan Duncan and Tom Noe. Duncan played collegiately for the University of the South, Bagby for Oklahoma City, Hill for Bellarmine and Mullen for Belmont.

Adairville players besides Davis included Jody Thorpe, Ronnie Price, Wendell Townsend, Johnny Joyce, Bethel Martin and Bobby Bradley.

Russellville was coached by Jim Young and Adairville by Ralph Sharp. Both were former star players at Adairville. Auburn was coached by former WKU player Ronnie Clark, who went on to the principal at Franklin-Simpson and mayor of Franklin.


Russellville won the 1970 state boys golf championship, still the only overall state title for RHS. Buddy Linton had built Panther golf for the better part of a decade, but he had to give up coaching to become an administrator in those days. Ron Beckham became the state champion coach.

The starters were seniors Gerry Switzer and Tommy Threlkeld, junior Hal Freeman and sophomore Stewart Wheeler. All four of them averaged below 40 strokes per nine holes for the season. Reserves were Tommy Riley, Joe Gran Clark, Buck Forcum and Rusty Page.

At state, Switzer shot 151, Wheeler 154 and Freeman and Threlkeld 156 each in the 36 holes.

Switzer played golf for WKU while Wheeler and Riley played for the University of Kentucky and Freeman for Florida State University.

The four starters along with Coach Beckham are the newest members of Russellville Alumni Club Athletic Hall of Fame.


Auburn won its seventh straight district basketball tournament championship. Jim Richards, who later coached Glasgow to a state championship and WKU to an OVC championship, was the coach at the start of the streak while Howard Gorrell coached six of the title teams, reaching the regional finals in 1967 and 1969.

The Tigers beat Russellville 67-64 in this final championship of the winning streak. Mike Barbee and David Blakey returned from that regional finalist team. Others who scored in the finals were Roger Allen, Dale Summers, Claude Tisdale and Charles Allen.

Scoring for Coach Wayne Mullen’s Panthers were Hall of Famers Virgil Benton and Hal Freeman along with Keith Northern, Donald Bell, Ronnie Kees and Herb McKinney.

Auburn’s Gorrell was the first principal of Logan County High School and Lewisburg coach Bob Birdwhistell assistant principal and athletic director.


The Russellville football team generally considered the best in RHS history not to reach the state finals was a state semifinalist this year. The Panthers were coached by Jim Gladden, who later spent many years on the Florida State University coaching staff and is in the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.

The team was basically a senior unit. On offense, seniors Bob Flowers and Scott Neill were at end while classmates Barry Parrish, Mark Sasson and Billy Costello comprised three-fourth of the interior line. Virgil Benton was the quarterback with Bob Tattitch and Randy Cowan at halfbacks and Carl Grinter the fullback.

The only underclassmen to start on offense were tackle Don Averitt and center Dennis Cabbage.

Senior starters on defense were Flowers at end, Barry and Ralph Parrish at tackles, Sasson at guard, Grinter at linebacker, and Tony Stokes and Keith Northern in the secondary.

Cowan punted and Neill consistently boomed kickoffs into the end zone. Underclassman Roland Cox kicked extra points.

Underclass defensive starters were John Paul Hughes at end, Averitt as a down lineman, Cabbage at linebacker, and either junior Donald Bell or sophomore Michael Gough in the secondary.

Benton is a member of the Hall of Fame. Costello, Tattitch, Benton and Cabbage were named among the 50 Greatest Panthers of All-Time.


Russellville won its second state championship of the decade. This one was in Class A boys track.

Coach Floyd Burnsed had told me that it’s easier to win the state than to win a dual meet, since just a few outstanding athletes can score a lot of points in a large field.

His prediction proved to be true. Hall of Famer Forrest Killebrew—maybe Russellville’s most gifted pure athlete ever—was the number three team in the state by himself. Joining him in scoring enough points to win the title were Willie Wells, Dennis Sydnor, Dave Dockins, Dalmiria Hampton, Kevin Herndon, Tony Palmer, Vincent Weatherford and Frank Blick, among others.

Killebrew had a great track career at WKU and also won the school’s slam dunk contest.

Burnsed has since coached high school football in Texas and California and has been a head college coach in California. Several of his players have gone on to the NFL.

Dockins has won a pile of medals in the state Bluegrass Games as an adult. Sydnor has served several years as a coach of Panther track.


Girls basketball returned to most Kentucky high schools for the first time in over 40 years after being mandated by the Kentucky General Assembly.

In the 13th District (Logan County), Olmstead won the first of its seven straight district championships with boys coach Gary Shelton also coaching the girls that year. Denny Milam and Lugene Rogers later coached the Ramblerettes. Starters on that first championship team were County MVP Gracie Mason, Lorraine Carter, Vickie McGuire, Littie Jones and Hall of Famer Diana Grinter. Subs who scored in the district championship game were Patricia Allen, Nancy Jones and Wanda Sydnor.

Runner-up in the district were Coach John Paul Brady’s Lewisburg Rangerettes. Their starters were Brenda Hurt, Shirley O’Neal, Nena Gilliam, Gail McIntosh and Cathy White. Brenda Bourne scored as a reserve. McIntosh transferred to Olmstead after that and became a key player for the perennial champs.

Named all-district were Olmstead’s Carter, Grinter and Mason, Lewisburg’s McIntosh and White, Russellville’s Hattie Sydnor, Adairville’s Janet Nobbin, Chandlers’ Janite Snell and Auburn’s Mary Lou Goforth.

Other key players in that first year were Russellville’s Lisa Howlett, Connie Beal, Lisa Offutt and Gayla Grider, Chandlers’ ReJeana Green, and Auburn’s Linda Torrence.

Adairville’s Susan Price was the first woman to be head coach of a varsity basketball team in the county. The other three head coaches all became Hall of Famers—Auburn’s Gerald Sinclair, Russellville’s Matt Tipton and Chandlers’ Jim Thompson.


The first state championship football team in Russellville’s first 46 seasons was Coach Ken Barrett’s 1980 Panthers. After getting what had become their annual losses to Franklin-Simpson and Fort Campbell out of the way, Barrett’s Bunch won their final nine games.

The first postseason game was at Tompkinsville. The first half was reminiscent of the scoreless tie in the 1969 regional finals, won by the Bears in overtime on a statistical tiebreaker. The winning points this time came on a 33-yard field goal by Tim Smith. David McCormick, a sophomore, scored the lone touchdown on a 15-yard run, and Smith kicked that extra point in a 10-0 win. 

Starters listed included five who went both ways, all-staters Tommy Wilkins and Bernard Bellamy along with Gregg Head, Keb Barrett and Kevin Fruits. Joining them were Eddie Hanks, Demosko Gordon, Michael Woods, Charles Hampton, Dickie Shifflett, Tim Williams, Randy Smith, Tim Smith, Brian Brown, Stewart Pillow, Jeff Smotherman and David McCormick. 

A lot of other people saw extensive action, including seniors Thad ‘Fish’ Covington, Tim Allen, Scott Blythe, Robbie Camp, Stevie Farmer, Greg Wells, David Gray and Kelly Lee. 

The state semifinals were played in Owenton against the state’s top-ranked Class A team, Owen County. Covington did much of the quarterbacking when Keb Barrett was injured. Covington and McCormick rushed for touchdowns. Head and Fruits picked off interceptions. Tim Smith kicked four extra points in the 28-13 win that sent a Russellville football team to the state finals for the first time since 1966.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 28, the Panthers and hundreds—maybe thousands—of their fans found themselves at Cardinal Stadium  on the grounds of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. It was cold, snow-showery day. All three of Russellville’s state football championships have come on that field.

Russellville beat the defending state champ Bellevue 16-0 with Defensive Coordinator Gwynne Gaddie’s defense pitching a shutout on the big stage.

Bellamy ran for 84 yards, Randy Smith 73 and McCormick 58 in that championship game. Keb Barrett completed 7 of 13 passes for 84 yards. Five of those receptions, including a touchdown, were pulled in by Fruits. Tim Smith kicked a 32-yard field goal. Head and Randy Smith recovered fumbles. 

Captains Bellamy and Wilkins, who were the team’s most honored players, accepted the state championship trophy. After starting his college career at Florida State, Wilkins transferred to UK and became a two-year captain for the Wildcats.

Denver Bell was a member of the coaching staff. Junior high coaches who helped out on the sidelines were Korlin ‘Corky’ Harrison, Steve Meredith and Ted Zikeli. 

Wilkins and Bellamy are Hall of Famers and were chosen among the 50 Greatest Panthers. Ken Barrett was named the Greatest Coach.


Russellville’s third Class A state championship team ruled small school football in Kentucky. And for the third time, Hall of Fame Coach Ken Barrett was at the helm. It was his fourth trip to the state finals in 11 seasons.

The Panthers were quarterbacked by Larry Johnson, son of the Panther All-American of the same name. Key players at the skilled positions included running back Onassa Duncan and receivers Andre Morris and Jonathan Gough. Hall of Fame performers were Morris, who had a great track career at the University of Iowa, and lineman Andy Britt, who became a starter for the University of Kentucky football.

Other players included Tony Costello, Terrel Jackson, Chris McGinnis, Michael Meguiar, Josh Ryan, Steve Binkley, Danny Johnson, Chris Wood, Bryan Gilliam, Joe Higgins, Marcell Edwards, Chris Slaton, Jeff Cox, Jerry Cox, Rob Imlay, Clint DeArmond, John Rogers, Russell Westfall, Chris Woods, Travis Varble, Luster Elliott, Jermarcus Smith, Jermaine Collier, John Zavaro, James Calloway, Tyrone Long and kickers Jon Paul Davis, Patrick Maskins and Robbie Hoffman.

Morris, Britt and Duncan were named among the 50 Greatest Panthers. Edwards and his crew led the power-washing and cleanup of Rhea Stadium’s historic walls a couple of years ago.


The Logan County Lady Cougars won their second straight regional basketball championship and once again were state quarterfinalists. Hall of Famer Mike Haynes was the head coach, assisted by Lex Lindsey, who has had a tremendous state finalist career coaching the Franklin-Simpson Lady Cats.

The 1990 team was without three girls who had played big roles in the 1989 team’s success—Jalee Wright Page, Pam Collins Pollard and Christy Burton Barnett. Returning, however, were Hall of Famers Kim Johnson Higgins, Shana Dean and Carrie Horlander along with key reserves Melodie Goodman Bingham and Gwen Dawson Barnes, who became starters in ‘90. Amy Stratton played almost as much as a starter.

Other team members were Sandi Powell, Deana McReynolds, Kandi Chyle Slaton, Sheila Chyle Fitzgerald, Kim Martin Spaulding, Shelly Simpson, Sara Tweedy and Tommi White Holloway.

Horlander played basketball and ran track in college. Higgins, Goodman and Stratton have been assistant coaches for the Lady Cougars. Dean is a doctor.


The Russellville basketball program reached new heights. That 2000 team not only won the Panthers’ second regional championship in three years, but the Panthers also advanced to the Final Four—the state semifinals at Rupp Arena. They had a big lead in the second half and were so close to the state finals RHS fans could taste it.

The Panthers had won their first seven postseason games by an average of 30 points an outing, but Elizabethtown roared back, edged Russellville 88-87, and went on to win the state championship that night.

According to Russellville sports historian Greg Owens, that team set school records for wins with 28 and consecutive wins with 18.

The 2000 team was led by Hall of Famers Maurice ‘Squeaky’ Hampton, Michael Morris, Teco Dickerson and Nathan Thompson. Coach Phil Todd is in the Hall both as a coach and as a player.

Other key players included center Tony Key, guard Roland Dickerson and forwards Ricky Duncan and Tyree Todd.

Hampton starred at Austin Peay and played international professional ball for several years. Morris and Key were part of a league-champion semi-professional team coached by former Panther Otis Key. Teco Dickerson played on a national championship football team at WKU and also made the Hilltopper basketball team as a walk-on. Thompson played college soccer and basketball, coached a league champion semi-pro basketball team, was head soccer and golf coach at RHS, served as Russellville Athletic Director, and now is the first-year coach of Logan County boys basketball.

The Panthers went on to reach the Final Four again the next year with Hampton, Thompson, the Dickersons and Todd leading the way.


Even though they didn’t get to play their senior spring sports seasons or even have a traditional commencement because of the Coronavirus, the Logan County High School Class of 2020 put together a remarkable record in their three years of varsity sports as Cougars and Lady Cougars.

Seven teams—volleyball, baseball, softball and both basketball and soccer genders—compete in the 13th District along with Russellville, Franklin-Simpson and Todd Central. In the those three seasons, LCHS teams earned a berth in the regional tournament in 18 of 19 district tournaments, winning 12 district titles in the process. They won at least one game at region in 13 of 18 appearances. The only team which didn’t reach the district championship game was boys basketball in 2017.

Logan’s softball and baseball 2020 teams would have won a multiplicity of games and would have been serious contenders for more district championships and regional wins.

Those seven sports programs won 354 games and lost only 189 overall.  They were 214-98 in the region and an astounding 133-19 in the district. Specifically, Logan teams went 46-2 against Russellville, 44-4 versus Todd Central, and 43-13 against Franklin-Simpson in those seven programs.

Football is also in a district but not the same one as the others. Still, in these three years, Coach Todd Adler’s Cougars not only excelled but also played all three teams from other districts and classifications. They went 29-5 overall in those three football seasons, 13-5 in their Class 4A region, 11-5 in their district, 3-0 against Russellville, 2-0 versus Todd Central, and 0-1 against Franklin. They won a district championship, were runner-up another year, and won two regional games.

The 2020 football team also won the district championship and a postseason game.

Another program which achieved great success in those three years is archery. Coach Jason Hayes, who succeeded highly successful coach Tina Baker this year, reports the following results:

2017-2020 - 4 time Region NASP Champions
2019 KSHAA Region 2 Girls Runner-up
2018 KSHAA Region 2 Boys Champions
Broke the school scoring record in Bullseye twice this year with 3415 and 3418
Broke the school scoring record in 3D with 1708
2020 season ranked 3rd in the State in 3D and 8th in Bullseye

That’s a total of 66 seniors, not including cheerleaders, eSports, managers, etc. A list of participating seniors follows with the numbers of different sports teams they were on if more than one:

Wesley Abney 4, Jordan Baer, Dylan Basham, Thomas Bilyeu 2, Tristan Blake, Camden Bond 3, Carson Bradley, Nolan Brady 2, Parker Bray, Abby Canler, Gracie Christian, Kolton Coomer, Brea Croslin, Lucas Davenport 2, Korbin Deberry, Romano De Billis 3, Michael Drake, Xavier Evans, Tyler Ezell, Riley Ferguson 2, Gabe Forgy, Onahka Fuller, Morgan Gafford, Brady Griggs, Ethan Haley, Gary Hardy, Jay Hardison 2, Jaden Hayes 2, Christian Hines, Elijah Hopkins 3, Jerry Jeziorkowski, Shaina Johnson, Christian Jones 2, Chase Kie 2, Sydney Lee, Thomas Lockhart, Kennedy Nichols 2, Hannah Matthews, Elizabeth McGinnis, Braxton Meguiar, Sean Metcalf 2, Hayley Schweers, Jarrett Sears 2, Dalton Taylor, Lucas Taylor, Dalton Thompson, Aaliyah Townsend, Paige Vanzant 2, Peyton Vanzant 3, Nathaniel Vick, Chloe Watkins, Addie White, Parker White, Madelyn Yonts


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