25th Clash of the Cats kicking off at LCHS
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

Twenty-four years ago this fall, the late Clarence ‘Stumpy’ Baker took a bold step. In his first game as head football coach of the Logan County Cougars, he agreed—even advocated—to play one of Western Kentucky’s perennial powerhouses, the Russellville Panthers. He didn’t enter into the formidable foray fool-heartedly or blindly. The Russellville Panthers had been state runner-up the year before. Twenty-two years earlier, he had coached that same school to the state finals himself.

Russellville was beginning its 54th season of varsity football. For Logan, it was season number five. Russellville won that first game 12-0.

Tonight, the Cougars and Panthers will meet for the 25th consecutive season. Russellville-Logan County confrontations still go by the name that local wordsmith Algie Ray Smith assigned them when LCHS opened in the fall of 1982, the Clash of the Cats.

As has been the case in most of the 25 meetings, it would be difficult to bet against the Panthers. RHS leads the series 16-8. Russellville is in the midst of another excellent season. The Cougars are struggling. Russellville has a 6-3 record. Logan is 2-7.

Yet there are mitigating circumstances. Logan County plays in Class 5A in what Coach Dain Gregory calls “the second toughest district in the state,” trailing only Class 6A’s Louisville district that includes Trinity and St. Xavier. The Cougars have played defending state champion and current number one-ranked Bowling Green, a Warren Central team that has lost only to BGH and has beaten Mayfield, and Greenwood, another highly ranked team in 5A. Russellville has to face top-ranked Mayfield each season, but there have been few other challenges on their slate.

One other bit of trivia could be on Logan’s side: Seven of the Cougars’ eight wins have come in streaks. After being shut out in six of the first eight games in the series, Logan won the next three meetings under Coach Les May by a combined score of 123-0 from 1996-98. Then the Cougars won four straight years under Coach Lee Proctor between 2001-04.

The eight Logan win? It came last year at Rhea Stadium. Gregory’s first team beat the Panthers 32-21. Did a new streak begin?

On the other hand, RHS Coach John Myers has a weapon on his side that wasn’t available in last year’s loss—a healthy Barrett Croslin. The Panthers looked like they were on the way to win number 17 om the first half when Croslin was behind center on offense and patrolling the secondary on defense. But the effects of an injury he had suffered the week before at Mayfield and some hard hits by the Cougars sidelined him in the second half, and the Panthers fell apart. The Panther quarterback should be at full-strength Friday.

Gregory made a move that paid off for the Cougars last year. He switched quarterbacks, moving Croslin’s Little League World Series battery mate, Ian Woodall, to quarterback, and he responded beautifully. Gregory started the season with Woodall as the signal caller, but the Cougars won the game which has propelled them into next week’s 5A playoffs with senior Justin Rone at the controls.

Adding to the intrigue: Two assistant coaches in the 2012 game have previously been head coaches in the Clash of the Cats series, and they are on the other sideline this time. Bob Nelson, who was head coach of the Panthers for six seasons and was an RHS assistant before that, is now on Gregory’s staff at LCHS. And Gwynne Gaddie, a former Logan head coach, is defensive coordinator for his alma mater, Russellville. Also a former head coach at Nelson County and Todd Central, he was the defensive coach in 1980 when Coach Ken Barrett won the first of three state championships at RHS. Both Myers and Gregory said on WRUS’ coaches’ show Tuesday that Russellville’s defense is much more aggressive this year.

Logan’s Lee Proctor has served as a head coach in the Clash most, patrolling the sidelines 11 years and finishing 4-7. Barrett was 8-2 in the first 10 years of the event. Myers is 6-2 as the Panther bench boss. Nelson was 2-4 at RHS. Les May went 3-2 at Logan while Gaddie was 0-1, Baker 0-2 and Mark Allen 0-4. Gregory is the only undefeated coach in the series (so far) at 1-0.

After the past couple of weeks have featured summer-like weather, Friday’s forecast calls for considerably cooler temperatures and a chance of rain at game time. That could mean passing will give way to rushing. Russellville’s top rusher, Demarcus Hampton, has picked up 677 yards on 72 carries. Zach Hines, who missed several games in the middle of the season, has 255 yards on 60 tries, and Croslin has 331 yards on 51 rushes.

When Logan stopped reporting stats after the seventh game, Gage Hales had rushed 45 times for 364 yards. Rone, Brennan Rostampour and Anthony Oberhausen were all in triple figures on rushing yardage.

Russellville’s top 10 tacklers are as follows: A.K. Tisdale 66, Demarcus Hampton 62, Jacory Bard 59, D.J. Hoosier 50, Dustin Morgan 48, Hines 45, Rashaun Jones 41, Dequan Beard 38, and Christian Naylor and Coco Darden 37 each.

Through seven games, Logan’s top 10 in tackles were Aaron Baldwin with 70, Tyler Wood 68, Woodall and Rone 63 each , Jared Hall 53, Joe McGinnis 52, Mason Robertson 39, Dylan Givens 35, and Chris Neal and Luke Woodall 32 each.

Game time is 7:30. The game will be broadcast live on WRUS live by Andy and Zach Woodall.

Copyright © The Logan Journal 2009 - 2020