Panther Park, 1990 state champs, 4th ranked Panthers await Cougars Friday
By Jim Turner

Posted on September 10, 2015 9:24 PM

When a very large number of Logan Countians (which includes Russellvillians) arrive at Rhea Stadium Friday night for the Clash of the Cats, they may want to enter at the lower or northeast corner of the field near the intersection of Summer and East Eighth streets.

Some of those attending will be honored as a special part of RHS football history, since the state champion Panthers of 1990 are to be honored at halftime.

What has recently been dubbed Panther Park is nearing completion and should be a beautiful sight to behold.

For about a year, Russellville Alumni enthusiast Greg Owens has been developing the park, coming up with the idea and then leading the way in selling bricks to fill in the around about a huge Panther football. Other alumni, including Ann Page Province McReynolds and Bob Ballance, have been involved in the sales. Central Office staffers Mark Coursey and Patsy Hendrick along with RHS office guru Mary Celsor are among those who have spread the word about this special project and helped in other ways.

Owens named the group promoting the project R Club, a name long ago used to designate school lettermen. He has written something several times a week about it on Facebook for months. He gives credit to another alum, Bob Statton, for coming up with the Panther Park name.

Over 370 bricks have been purchased to honor former Panthers, other alumni, teachers and fans. For $75, three lines of engraving are allowed. For a $100 donation, six lines are allowed.

The man who has made the park into a brick and mortar masterpiece is Billy Costello, all-state lineman on the 1970 state semifinalist team which is to be honored in two weeks. He’s a master mason while working around houses and businesses, but he has poured heart and soul along with concrete into this one.

Sonny Green, one of Russellville’s all-time greatest kickers, is Russellville’s resident artist, and he has created a Panther head to go on the back of the west scoreboard overlooking Panther Park. School maintenance workers Allen Freeman and Barry Pitt erected it this week.

Costello has placed a few blank bricks in place. They can be replaced with names if anyone else wants to buy a brick, Owens says.

The LoJo

Names of several of the great 1990 team which will honored Friday are on those bricks. In fact, Owens says that Andy Britt, the highly honored lineman who went on to become a starting guard for the University of Kentucky, bought a brick with the names of all the seniors on that team, which was the fourth Ken Barrett-coached squad to reach the state championship game in 11 seasons. It was the third to win the state championship and the last to do so in the last 24 seasons.

Among the linemen who joined Britt in moving out opponents were Tony Costello, Joe Higgins, Marcell Edwards, Chris Slaton, John Rogers, Jeff Cox, Russell Westfall, Rob Imlay and Clint DeArmond. John Paul Cates had been expected to be a force along the line, but he broke his leg in a preseason game against Hopkinsville and missed the entire season.

One of the best one-two halfback combinations in RHS history did much of the ball-carrying. Andre Morris played both flanker and halfback. Onassa Duncan was built like a fullback and inflicted pain to many who tried to tackle him, but he ran like a tailback. Terrel Jackson was built like a halfback but played fullback very effectively.

The guy who made them go was quarterback Larry Johnson, who had played defense primarily the two years before. He was quick and he made good decisions. He had inbred football instincts from his dad, the top scorer in RHS history, also named Larry Johnson.

Ends Jonathan Gough, Chris Woods, Bryan Gilliam and Travis Varble played key roles. Gough was everywhere on defense, too.

Two young players, Steve Binkley and Josh Ryan, made life tough on opposing offensive players, and kickers John Paul Davis, Patrick Maskin and Robbie Hoffman got the job done.

Among other team members were Luster Elliott, Danny Johnson, Chris McGinnis, Jermarcus Smith, Jermaine Collier, John Zavaro, James Calloway, Tyrone Long and Michael Meguiar, many of whom would contribute more in years to come

The cheerleaders were Jenny Phelps, Stephanie Borders, Leigh-Ann Stokes, Jamie Morris, Deedie Stokes, Brooke Webster, Tamra Wells, Frances Smith, Courtnay Gatlin, Meg Crossley and Angel Washington.

When Andre Morris, who went on to be part of a world record-setting relay team at the University of Iowa, was inducted into the RHS Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame this winter, The LoJo ran a story which included many details about this squad.

You can read it at

The LoJo

The Panthers will be heavy favorites to win their fourth straight Clash against the Cougars. Coach John Myers’ team is 3-0 after winning an impressive 50-42 seesaw battle at Butler County last Friday. RHS is ranked fourth in the state in Class 1A by both the Associated Press and the Litratings.

Logan County has struggled to score points this year, managing only one touchdown combined in the first two games. But Coach Steve Duncan’s Cougars showed marked improvement in the second half of a home loss to Owensboro Apollo last week. Had they played the first half the way they did the second, they would have been in contention for the win.

The Cougars have won only two games since beating the Panthers in the final game of the 2011 season. That, too, was at Rhea Stadium. Logan would like for history to repeat itself Friday.

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