Hintons, Dawson, Holman, Clark, Ballance, Kirkpatrick to be honorary captain Friday
By Jim Turner

Posted on October 23, 2014 6:14 PM

Seven men who played for the Russellville Panthers over 60 years ago have been chosen to serve as honorary captains Friday night when Coach John Myers’ team hosts two-time defending state champion Mayfield. Coach Joe Morris’ team has played in the last five state Class A finals, winning three of them.

Mayfield and Russellville had the best two teams in Class A last year, but the Panthers have nothing to show for it because they are in the same district as the Cardinals. They are among the best again this year, both having lost just one game.

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. Shortly before that, the seven honorary captains will join this year’s captains for the coin toss. They are Harold Hinton, Bobby Dawson, James Holman, Huey Hinton, Alderson Clark, Bob Ballance and Dr. Pat Kirkpatrick.

A look at the Panther careers of these seven honorees follows:

Harold ‘Tub’ Hinton is the senior member of the group of honorary captains. He was an honorable mention all-state lineman in 1946, helping lead first-year coach Harold Hunter’s team to an 8-1-1 record. The Panthers won eight straight games in between an opening game loss to Henderson, which was led by future UK star back Shorty Jamison, and a 7-7 tie with Murray in the WKC championship game. All the players and coaches I talked with about that game when I wrote Football City three decades later believed the interference penalty which set up the Tigers’ lone score was a horrible call.

The Panthers of 1946 allowed only 84 points in 10 games, including just 33 in the final seven. Even more impressive the side of the defensive line manned by Tub Hinton, Forrest Varble and G.C. McMillen didn’t give up a single touchdown all season.

Back Kenneth Knight, who was the designated passer, was third team all-state on the way to making the UK team as a walk-on. Joining Hinton as honorable mention all-staters were Bobby Hardy and Bobby Murphy. Those three were the team’s lone seniors.

Bobby Dawson was what was then called the fullback in Russellville’s single wing attack. That position now would be quarterback. The Panthers went 16-2-2 in his two years directing the offense, 1946 and ’47. I wrote in Football City:“A factor in the tie in the Murray was game was the loss of fullback Bobby Dawson with an injury. In the single wing, the fullback did the handing off, and Dawson had done it all season. His greatest asset was that he was short, 5’8”, and the opponents couldn’t see his motions well behind the line. Billy Fuqua, who was the first sub, had played the other positions more, and his height at the fullback slot helped tip the opponents off.”

Fuqua scored four touchdowns in a 52-7 win over Fulton the next year, but still couldn’t crack the starting lineup with a backfield that include super sophomore Jimmy Sanford, Hugh ‘Hoptown’ Waltrip, Knight and Dawson. This team also went 8-1-1, including a 33-0 win over Bowling Green. The 1947 team put together an enviable defensive record by not being scored on at Rhea Stadium.

They were invited to play in the Paper Bowl in Pensacola, Fla. The host team was loaded with talent, including future Vanderbilt head coach Fred Pancoast, Tennessee All-American Herky Payne, and New York Giant Bill Soboda.

Four high school All-Americans were on that squad and Sanford was slowed by illness, but the Panthers lost only 21-6 in a contest that was carried live on WHOP radio in Hopkinsville.

Russellville and Pensacola had a natural connection. Russellville hardware dealer Ben Parker, a Pensacola native who had resurrected Panther football after World War II took most of the players away from Coach El Donaldson, coached the Panthers the two seasons in between Donaldson and Hunter. Parker had quarterbacked Vanderbilt and been head basketball coach at the Citadel. He also had a law degree.

When Hunter left for a few years to coach and go to graduate school in Nashville, Parker found another Pensacola guy to coach the Panthers. Jimmy Haynes had played for the Parker-coached Pensacola team before going into the military. He then played football for Western Kentucky where he was captain of the Hilltoppers. Parker approached him about coaching the Panthers, Superintendent Moss Walton bought into it, and three more great RHS seasons followed.

His first Panther team in 1948 went 6-4. One of the losses was to a Henderson team quarterbacked by Jimmy Feix. Haynes didn’t have any assistant coaches and had to rely on the knowledge of two of his players, who were great leaders. If Haynes was working with the line, then one of the backs, Waltrip, would coach the backs. If he was concentrating on the backs, all-stater Harold ‘Plute’ Klein coached the line.

Things improved the next two years, thanks in part to one of the 2014 honorary captains, Huey Hinton, who started at end as a freshman. The other end was Buddy Linton,who helped coach three state champion Panther teams later in his career under Coach Ken Barrett. Joining him in assisting the Panthers to those state titles was Howard Wren, who was quarterback of the great 1950 squad.

Pat McNeil was a paid assistant coach on the 1949 and 1950 teams, which went a combined 19-1.

One of the backs on those last two teams, Charles ‘Bunk’ O’Brien, once told me, “If Jimmy Haynes had told me to go run through a brick wall, I’d have done it for him.”

The 1950 team was one of the greatest in Panther history. A team with only 23 players, just 14 of whom played in clutch situations, went 10-0, won the WKC championship, was ranked second in the state overall, and was invited to play was essentially a junior college team in Missouri.

Two of the starters on that team are among this week’s honorary captains. James Holman, who had come in from the county to play football, joined Larry Ludwig as huge tackles. He was a defensive standout, generally considered the best defender among the linemen. Huey Hinton joined Joe Hardy as the top receivers of Wren’s passes, and he also was the punter.

Three other members of that great undefeated team as underclassmen are also honorary captains. They are Bob Ballance, Dr. Pat Kirkpatrick and Alderson Clark Jr. Among their wins was the school’s first ever over Hopknsville, and it came by a 38-6 score with Clark, Kirkpatrick and Ballance helping score the last 11 points.

Huey Hinton and Clark had two more years two play after that season while Ballance and Kirkpatrick led the team on the field and as captains during the next three seasons. They played for Coach Joe Russell in 1951 and were there for the return of Hunter as coach in 1952 and ‘53.

In a 7-7 tie with Henderson his senior year, the injured Kirkpatrick came off the bench to kick the tying conversion. Alvin ‘Butch’ Klein was the record-setting punter. Ballance played so well on defense in that game that he became a recruiting target of Coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant at UK. Ballance accepted and has been a part of the UK football family ever since. He was injured while playing for the Wildcats and then became a student coach.

See more about Coach Jimmy Haynes in a Guest Article appearing on The LoJo written by his son of the same name.

The LoJo

The most famous game ever played at Rhea Stadium involved many of these players, and the opponent was from the same school which will visit Rhea Stadium again Friday, the Mayfield Cardinals.

Here’s a look at that great game, which I wrote in Football City 39 years ago:

Then came the big one, Mayfield, undefeated and ranked fifth in the state, came to town against Russellville, undefeated and eighth-ranked, with the WKC title as the prize. Temporary seats were added at Rhea Stadium and they were needed as some tams changed their games to other nights so that they could see this one. People drove down from Louisville to view the attraction.

The Panthers led 12-0 on a pass from Howard Wren to Huey Hinton and a Jim Sanford run. In the third quarter, the Panthers rampaged and ravished the Cardinals. Hinton recovered a fumble in the end zone after a jarring Sanford tackle. Joe Hardy scored on a 51-yard interception return. Charles ‘Bunk’ O’Brien scored on a two-yard run, and Sanford took in a 42-yard scoring pass from Wren. O’Brien returned an interception 22 yards. Hinton kicked four extra points.

The game that was supposed to be a thriller was not even close! Russellville had won 46-0.

Here’s how the local newspaper (which religiously covered RHS football in those days) described the biggest regular season game in Panther history:

“The stadium rocked, and the writers turned red as Russellville’s mighty Panthers plucked the plumage from Mayfield’s brilliant Cardinals in a humiliating rout at Rhea Stadium before a packed crowd.

“Coming to Russellville with nine wins, ranked fifth in the state, the Cardinals left like a cuckoo in a punch board clock after the Panther machine walked through, over and around the touted Mayfield line in a relentless undeniable touchdown splurge. And even after the victory Coach Jimmy Haynes said his team had not really hit its peak, a fact which is understandable after viewing the ease with which his smooth working eleven handled this unbeaten team which had been scored on for only 26 points in nine games.

“The win made history not only in its wreckage of the highly touted Cardinals but in the 13-game win streak which the Panthers have chalked up. It was the first time a Panther eleven ever carried the spotlight in a game billed as the state’s number one attraction; it was also the worst defeat ever handed in a championship bout

“Russellville had the offense as Jim Sanford, Bunk O’Brien, Glenn Pate and Bobby Goodwin racked up yardage at will through the line which had trampled Owensboro, Sturgis, and other WKC powerhouses—in championship form.

“Jim Sanford and Larry Ludwig practically sewed up All-State honors.

“Sanford scored two touchdowns and turned in a superb defensive game. Ludwig led the Russellville play which was largely responsible for holding the two Mayfield swift backs. But the victory was not all Ludwig or Sanford. It was teamwork: passes by Howard Wren, the running and blocking of Page, Rex Johnson, and Goodwin, and the pass-snatching of Joe Hardy and Huey Hinton, the defensive play of Charles Dennison, Maynard Elftmann, Henry Moss and the ever-present Ray Gaw, and of course the thorough scouting of Coach Haynes.

“So thoroughly scouted was the Mayfield team , the Panthers could have sent a man into the Cardinal huddle and still not have learned anymore about the plays they have studied in their weekly scrimmage sessions.

“Russellville now has definite claim to top ranking in the state. The win ended all claims about the Panthers’ so-called easy schedule.”


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