Alumni Clash a night of great fun, football and fundraising
By Jim Turner


Posted on April 26, 2015 5:34 PM



Venerable Rhea Stadium—the stately gridiron mansion carved out of Logan County limestone on a Russellville hilltop—was rocking and rolling Friday night in one of the most memorable evenings in the Land of Logan’s sports history.

The 76-year-old football facility has been shaken to the core before by hard hits at breakneck speed and by the cheering of adoring, frenetic fans.

This time, though, the movement of the earth under Ken Barrett Field came more from the bulk of the players involved in the hits and the laughter and joy that came from those playing, coaching and watching the Alumni Clash of the Cats that unfolded on this most memorable April evening.

About 80 men paid and played for their alma maters in an alumni game matching former Russellville Panthers and Logan County Cougars.

The result was pure delight!

Russellville trailed early but won the game 32-6. That’s important for Panther Pride, but this event involved much more than which team won the game. It was a fundraiser for the current football programs at the two schools. And it was a night that brought everyone involved closer together even though they, their families or their friends were wearing different color uniforms.

An estimated 1,400 tickets were pre-sold before the game at $10 each, and more people than that filled all the seats at Rhea as well as sprawling all over the hillside.

Michael ‘Pooh’ Elliott, a Cougar standout in the early days of Logan football and one of the coaches of the Logan Alumni said: “This was an epic event for me. Even though I didn't have the nerve to put on the pads, I was able to participate and I loved every minute of it. This was a great night of smash-mouth football...serious business on both sidelines. There were so many athletes from the past on the field at the same time that I couldn't help but wonder how many state championships we would have won if we had been one big school (I say at least seven since 1984). The sideline that I was on came up short but in reality everybody won because the proceeds went to both schools.”

One of the Russellville coaches was the legendary Ken Barrett himself. At age 84, he is 25 years removed from the last of three state championships he led RHS to in his 22 years at the helm. He has stayed involved and supportive of the program ever since.

“I woke up sore Saturday morning,” he said. “It was from laughing so hard, having such a great time and being hugged so often by guys I was really glad to see.”

Although it was fun, the product on the field was a football game. Both teams played hard and often made outstanding plays on both offense and defense.

One of the most memorable moments came when Russellville’s Mikie Benton--who only two years ago was an SEC starter in the Kentucky backfield for a second season—running a naked reverse after being challenged by a den of Cougar defenders. He appeared head for paydirt in the east endzone, when suddenly there was an explosion. From out of nowhere came former Indianapolis Colts starting safety Joseph Jefferson, who brought him down on a super tackle.

In addition to catching a glimpse of the speed and the football instincts Jefferson had demonstrated for decades, it was obvious this was Jolting Joe Jefferson because he was wearing his Colts helmet and because his expansive midriff was showing. Jefferson has grown out of his jersey, at least in the midsection.

One of the players who appeared to be most in shape was Logan County’s Jon Richardson. He made his presence early by blocking a Panther punt off the foot of Corey Thompson and recovering it in the endzone for the game’s first score.

That was appropriate, since what appeared to be the teams’ biggest weaknesses involved the kicking and snapping games.

A two-point conversion attempt by the oldest Cougar on the field, Darnell Cross, failed, and that was to be the last of Logan’s scoring.

Russellville’s offense would repeatedly move the ball and then turn it over. The first big defensive play of the game had come when Robbie Osborne intercepted a pass by Benton intended for Kenton Cage.

The Panthers began their scoring dominance when the only guy in the game who was not a graduate of either RHS or LCHS came out to play. John Myers, who is a graduate of Hancock County High School and played quarterback for Campbellsville University, has been the head coach at RHS for a decade. Just as he does while coaching, he made things happen while taking snaps.

He mounted a 68-yard, 11-play, 7-minute drive. It ended with Patrick Temple taking the ball in for the tying touchdown from the seven two minutes into the second quarter.

Six of the plays on the drive were rushes. Myers recorded the first pass completion of the game, hitting one of the youngest Panthers, Zach Hines, along the right sideline.

Speaking of hits, one of the biggest came when Jason Hendley popped Myers far behind the line of scrimmage. Hendley was playing for his alma mater, Logan County, even though his brother, John Wright, and his cousin, Greg Noe, were playing for the Panthers. In fact, Hendley’s son, Zach Hendley, played for Myers’ Panthers until a couple of years ago. Jason Hendley hit Myers on another play behind the line later in the game.

The Hendley-Noe family relationship was typical. Logan’s Darnell Cross is one of Myers’ assistant coaches, and his son, Shawn Cross, played in this game for Russellville.

Logan’s first pass completion came when one of its most successful quarterbacks ever, De Wilson, connected with player/coach/event organizer Todd Adler up the middle. Then Wilson fired a 36-yard pass to Twin Lancaster, appearing to set the Cougars up for another score.

After two straight illegal procedure penalties, though, speed merchant Victor Hampton picked up a Logan fumble and sped to a 65-yard touchdown, which gave the Cougars the lead for keeps.

Brian Holloman, who coaches football in Anderson County, did much of the Logan quarterbacking. He connected with Osborne on one pass, but was sacked by Dustin Morgan after an errant long snap.

The teams swapped interceptions. Jermaine Collier of Logan (his dad of the same name was a standout for the Panthers in the 1980s) picked off a pass by Matthew Humble after Hampton had intercepted a pass by Wilson.

Morgan recovered a Logan fumble and took in to the LCHS 30. Richardson sacked Myers but was called for a face mask. RHS had a chance to score in the final second of the half, but Osborne knocked down Myers’ pass on a good defensive play.

Turnovers continue as Benton intercepted a Wilson pass and the ever-present Larry Beadnell of Logan recovered Chris Gardner’s fumble. The most athletic interception found Humble stretching out to haul in one of Holloman’s passes. A.K. Tisdale of RHS recovered a fumble as he battled Logan’s Jonathan Barbee for a 50-50 ball.

Maurice ‘Mo’ Beard scored a Panther touchdown on a run. His son, recent standout Dequan Beard, came up with the final turnover of the game on an interception. Lance Bibb added a touchdown on an 8-yard run.

Humble quarterbacked the final scoring drive. He threw a 46-yard completion to Hampton. Hines ran for 10 yards, but Chad Taylor tackled him at the two-yard line. Jamarcus Gordon scored the last touchdown from there.

Taylor is a former star catcher for the baseball Cougars. After playing college baseball, he went into body building. This was his first venture into football.

Among the other Cougars who were on the final roster whose name did not appear in The LoJo’s preview of the game were Phillip Duna, Wayne Whittinghill & Michael Ballard. Donovan Harris and Hampton were among the late additions for the Panthers. (See the preview at http://www.theloganjournal.com/Stories.aspx?Article=sports660)

Others than those previously mentioned involved in carrying or catching the ball included Russellville’s Chris Ward, Chris Hampton, Michael Marshal, Daniel Elliott & Wright along with Logan’s Jeremy Sells & Reuben Rawlings Watson. Former Panther tight end Jerry Allen was a member of the coaching staff.

The biggest lineman on the field was Logan’s Adam Gafford, a little bigger than Alan Moncrief. Cougar linebacker Charles ‘Punky’ Atkins appeared to still be in the playing shape that made him part of the Bowling Green Bandits semi-pro football team a few years ago. Dontray Hampton was a force to be reckoned with for the Panthers.

No one enjoyed the game and the evening more than the oldest player, 55-year-old Reggie Gough. He made a surprise appearance on WRUS early one morning before the game to plug it, and he made his way to the pressbox before kickoff and at halftime to talk about what was going on. He hardly took off a play the entire game, and was busy talking trash to the Cougars and their fans in between, all good-naturedly. He even crafted a trophy from an axe designed to be given to a fan favorite.

“He’s a tough ol’ nut,” Barrett said about Gough, a guy he coached at RHS in the late seventies. Gough went on to play at Middle Tennessee, in the Marines and professionally.

Retired Air Force Colonel Jim Kerr, an RHS graduate, led the singing of the National Anthem magnificently, and former Logan County tennis player Phillip Alexander led the invocation. Kerr’s nephews, Todd Kerr, was one of the older Panthers on the field.

WRUS was involved in the game, promoting it advance and then airing a three-hour broadcast uninterrupted by commercials. John Brett Reynolds, Andy Woodall and Chris McGinnis were among the broadcasters.

McGinnis later said, “The Alumni Clash of the Cats was a terrific night all the way around. RHS defeated LCHS 32-6, but the real winners were both high school football programs and the community as a whole. Rhea Stadium was packed with people sharing a great time in the company of family and friends. The people who made this event happen deserve our congratulations and thanks!”

His sister, Heather McGinnis Maskin, said,To all those involved in making last night's event possible, THANK YOU! It was splendid to see Rhea Stadium overflowing again! It was entertaining and the community support was tremendous. Hats off to all the organizers, players, coaches, cheerleaders and fans!

Family members enjoyed what they saw. Pandora Christian wrote, “Last night was an awesome experience. Alumni football game at historic Rhea Stadium. Loved seeing all the players. Especially loved getting to watch Mikie Benton, Todd Adler, and the great Coach Myers. Also happy my hubby Terry Christian, got to be a part of the night. Everybody did great and it was so much fun. An entire community came together for a great night.

Joe Jefferson wrote on his Facebook page, “I want to say thanks for the players who participated! Thanks to coaches who helped me!! Congrats to R-Ville! Had fun one more time in Rhea Stadium! I'm going to apply for disability Monday! Oh, yeah, thanks to all fans (LCHS & RHS) for coming out and supporting us! PEACE!!

Finally, Todd Adler, who along with John Myers made the event a reality said, “I want to take a minute to say thank you to everyone who made the alumni game happen tonight. Players, it was a blast, Congrats to the Panthers, y’all played a good game. I want to say a big thank you to all the businesses and people that help us sell tickets and help promote this event.

“Last I want to thank everyone that came out to the game. It was the best crowd I've ever witnessed. It was great to see the community come together and make this event a successful one.

There’s talk of having another of these games in future years. WRUS’ Reynolds suggested holding it on a Tobacco Festival Saturday afternoon, and that idea was well-received.




Copyright © The Logan Journal 2009 - 2021