Logan vs. Graves, Gregory vs. Gregory, a reverse reunion
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

Logan County’s first-ever Class 5A football playoff game tonight is something of a reverse homecoming. The Cougars are on the road, but their opponent has many ties to Logan County, even to LCHS football.

Coach Dain Gregory’s Cougars (2-8), who are seeded fourth in Region I, District 2, travel to Mayfield to play Graves County (8-2), the top seed in District 1.

The connections begin with Gregory, who grew up at Marshall County where he played football and later served as an assistant coach. Marshall and Graves have been rivals for many years. He also coached at another area school, Ballard Memorial.

The head coach of the Eagles is former Logan County standout Lance Gregory, who has turned the program around in his four years in Mayfield. The offensive coordinator is Les May, who was the head coach of the Cougars for five seasons and is one of the most successful bench bosses ever for LCHS.  

Lance Gregory was on May’s first team at LCHS. It was a tough season, especially after quarterback Brian Holloman suffered a season-ending injury early in the year. Gregory played some QB after that, as well as running back, linebacker, defensive back and punter. “It was a tough year, but I’d like to think our class started the solid program Coach May built there,” he says.

Before May’s arrival, Gregory had played for Coach Mark Allen for three seasons. Allen’s coach strength was preparation and organization, another plus for preparing a young coach-to-be.

Lance Gregory went from Lewisburg to Barbourville where he played four years for Union College, two years as a starting safety. He was honorable mention all-conference.

After a year away from education, Gregory became an assistant coach on the first staff of John Hardin High School in the Elizabethtown area. He assisted Coach Mark Brown until he was hired as Graves County’s head coach in 2009 by then-athletic director R. B. Mays, a former assistant basketball and baseball coach at LCHS himself. Dr. Mays was principal by the time Gregory arrived and is now in the central office of Graves County Schools. Before he left the GCHS office, though, Mays had hired another former Cougar football player, Doug Gloyd, as athletic director. Former LCHS assistant basketball coach Lyndon Dunning is also a Graves County coach. So it’s a multi-faceted reunion of sorts.

The Eagles have made the playoffs in all four years Gregory has led the team, twice in Class 6A and the last two as 5A. The second year Graves County made it to the second round before losing to powerful Louisville Male. Former Cougar Marc Adam Clark was an assistant coach for Male then. Now he’s head coach at Hopkinsville, which is in the same district as Graves County.

The Graves-Hopkinsville game this year was a shootout with the Eagles winning by a phenomenal 79-40 just two weeks ago. “We had to keep scoring because Hopkinsville never conceded and kept scoring themselves,” Les May explains. Graves County has scored at least 40 points in each of the last six games and is the third highest scoring team in all of Class 5A, trailing only Franklin County and Christian County. Graves, however, got an important district win over the Christian County Colonels 42-37 three weeks ago. That secured only the second district championship in the quarter of a century-plus that Graves County has been playing football.

That high scoring offense is the brainchild of Coach May, who is the team’s offensive coordinator. One of the Eagles’ two losses was in another high-scoring shootout with Mayfield, the school’s crosstown rival. The other was by 10-7 to Murray. “That was in our second game of the season while Coach May was installing the offense that has been so successful for us lately,” Gregory explains while the competitive and confident May says, “I’d like to play them both again.”

Les May coached Logan County’s two most successful seasons of football as a team in the classification system. His 1997 team was powerful, led by Joseph Jefferson, who went on to be a starting defensive back for the Indianapolis Colts and is still the highest NFL draft pick to come out of Western Kentucky University. May’s 1998 team won the first playoff game in Cougar history before falling at Bowling Green in the second round. He left after that to coach in Tennessee and Virginia before taking a position on the North Hardin staff.

“Coach May has been great to work with,” Gregory says. “We coached against each other in the Hardin County system. When I got this head coaching job, I tried to get him to come with me, but he wasn’t ready then. The timing was right this time.”

Nick May, the son of Les and former Olmstead teacher Sheila May, graduated from high school this spring and is now a student at the community college in Paducah, which is located 20 minutes from Mayfield. Their daughter Abby, who was born while the Mays lived in Logan County, is a freshman at GCHS. Sheila is teaching at a small elementary school in the Graves County system near their home. “It kind of reminds us of Olmstead,” Les May says.

“I didn’t retire from coaching. I just was waiting for the right situation,” May explains about his voluntary decade off the sideline. “The timing was good with Nick and Abby, and Lance was the kind of person I wanted to assist. He’s proven, a solid man and coach. He reminds me of a young Les May in his intensity, organization and trying to do the right thing.”

Gregory, the son of Steve and Vickie Gregory of Lewisburg, is married to Alison, who is an assistant principal in the Graves County system. They have two children, Kaylee Jo, 8, and Kaden, almost 7.

“Graves County has great consistency under Coach Gregory,” says another Coach Gregory, Logan County’s Dain. “They don’t ever take a play off. If we do take plays off ourselves, we’ll be in trouble. We need to run our offense like we did against Greenwood. We’ll be alright if we do.”

Graves County has a super back in senior Zach Katzman, who ran for over a thousand yards each of the last two seasons and has a chance to go over 2,000 this year. Junior quarterback Peyton Puckett is solid and has three good targets, including Katman. “They tend to get the ball to Katzman on what seems like nine of every 10 plays,” Dain Gregory says.

Game time is 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on WRUS. The winner will most likely play Warren Central next week.

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