Sports Connections abound for Logan and Russellville
By Jim Turner

Posted on July 4, 2017 10:27 PM

One of the primary truths legendary Kentucky journalist Al Smith taught me about journalism is simple: There’s always a Logan County Connection. Look hard enough and you can find it.

Anyone who has read my writings or listened to my reports over the last 46 years can attest to my sticking to that thesis.

Here are some of those connections:

*Bowling Green High, which won the school’s first boys basketball championship this winter, leads the way in those connections.

Coach D.G. Sherrill, who has been the unquestioned dean of Fourth Region coaches—especially since Warren Central’s Tim Riley’s retirement from Kentucky public school coaching—is married to the former Tracy Dyce. Tracy was managing editor of the News-Democrat and The Logan Leader in the early 90s before leaving to marry the Caldwell County basketball coach, who I didn’t even know then. D.G. then became the Allen County-Scottsville coach before moving to the school with the most potential. He is the coach who turned that potential into dominance.

In June, D.G. gave up coaching and being athletic director to take a key position in the Bowling Green Central Office. In 12 years, his teams won 307 games and lost 92 for 76.9 winning percentage. His Purples won seven district, six region and one state championships.

Two of the state champion Purple players have strong local connections in addition to their coach..

We’ve reported about starting guard Deangelo Wilson, who is the son of former Logan County High School athletes, Sue Miller and De Wilson.

De, a member of the Joseph Jefferson-led A-town Posse from Adairville, was quarterback of Logan’s best-ever football team in 1998. Coach Les May’s team won at Union County in the first round of the playoffs, leading to a semifinal meeting with Bowling Green at El Donaldson Field.

The game had hardly started when a Purple defender clobbered Wilson as he went back to pass. The Purples got the 15-yard personal foul/unsportsmanlike penalty (I don’t remember what they called; it was both), but they had successfully knocked the Cougar quarterback out for the rest of the game, which was no longer a contest.

A lot of Logan Countians were very unhappy about the hit, and I may have (I did!) told my long-time friend, BGH Coach Kevin Wallace, about it. As we all know, Kevin has built BGH football into the most dominant program in the state, bypassing Trinity, St X and Fort Thomas Highlands, maybe even Mayfield.

And now De’s son was a key player in two Sweet Sixteen basketball finals, and Sue is one of the Purples’ most ardent and most vocal fans. Deangelo’s headed to Austin Peay to play football, having been a key to some state titles for Wallace’s gridiron Purples

Life takes strange twists along the way.

The other Land of Logan connection on the Purples’ roster was a top reserve, Jarius Key. He is the son of former Russellville star Otis Key, who played professionally in Europe and for the Globetrotters. Otis is now women’s basketball coach at Vol State Community College and has signed Russellville’s best player the last few years, Loreal Cheaney,

*New Russellville superintendent Bart Flener is part of a similar story to the Sheriill-Wilson Saga. He was the Glasgow coach when his star player, Bandon Stockton, was named Mr. Kentucky Basketball in 2002. He was the second straight Mr. Basketball from the Fourth Region, following Bowling Green’s Josh Carrier. They became the second and third Fourth Region alumni who played limited roles for Coach Tubby Smith’s Kentucky Wildcats during a five-year span. The other was Metcalfe County’s J.P. Blevins.

All three experienced similar careers at UK. They spent much of their time on the bench until their coaches realized the importance of senior leadership, and then they were called on to contribute them.

Stockton’s last three seasons of high school basketball all ended sadly in the regional tournament, and there certainly was a local connection. In 2000—Brandon’s sophomore year, the Scotties lost 83-49 to Coach Phil Todd’s Panthers in the regional finals. RHS went on the Final Four at state. Then in ’01, Flener’s team had won the All A Classic state championship, but the Panthers again eliminated them, this time in the first round. Once again Todd’s Panthers reached the state Final Four.

In Stockton’s senior year, his Scotties were eliminated by Todd Central in the semifinals. Todd was coached by Dennis Pardue of Auburn. Two years later he would become the RHS coach, a position he held for eight years.

Squeaky Hampton of Russellville was one of the stars of those two Final Four seasons. Two years later, Squeaky was unquestionably the best guard on the floor when his Austin Peay team gave Kentucky a big scare at Freedom Hall in Louisville. I was there.

Fast forward a decade or so, and Stockton was a member of the Bowling Green Hornets semi-pro team which used Russellville’s Jim Young Gymnasium as its home floor. He was good to be around and nice to everyone.

Now Coach Flener has become Superintendent Flener in Russellville and Mr. Kentucky Stockton is an assistant coach in Glasgow.

The two Russellville superintendents preceding Flener, Roger Cook and Leon Smith, also have histories contending against Russellville. They played their final high school football game for Campbellsville in a lost to Russellville in the state playoffs.

*BlUEBLOODS is the description used for the college basketball programs that are contenders for the Final Four every year. Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, Louisville and Michigan State are men’s teams that fit the bill.

If you use the same criteria for women, Notre Dame belongs in the Bluebloods category along with Connecticut, Stanford, Baylor and South Carolina.  Third-ranked Notre Dame went 33-4 this season before losing to Stanford in the Elite Eight. The Fighting Irish have won one national championship, reached the finals two seasons ago, and have been to five other Final Fours.

That same Notre Dame is coming to Bowling Green. Coach Muffett MCGraw’s team will come to Diddle this fall, and Coach Michelle Clark-Heard will take the Lady Tops to South Bend in 2018-19.

The local connection? One of McGraw’s assistants at Notre Dame is Katie Wulf Capps, a former Lady Topper who was coaching at Kansas before Muffett brought her under the shadow of the Golden Dome as director of basketball operations at Notre Dame.

Coach Capps is the wife of former Logan County High football player Eric Capps, who grew up in the Lewisburg area.

*BUTCH GILBERT will be honored by the WKU football program this fall, Coach Mike Sanford has announced. Gilbert played for WKU, served as an assistant coach under his close friend, Jimmy Feix, and also under WKU coaches Dave Roberts and Jack Harbaugh, and then was a fixture around campus as one of the senior statesmen of Topper football alumni. He died this winter at age 87.

The local connection? Butch’s first coaching job was an assistant to Coach Joe Russell with the 1951 Russellville Panthers. He always spoke kindly of the Panthers, even when he was coach of one of their SKY League rivals at Glasgow.

The last times I saw Feix and Gilbert together, I said, “I see you guys are still looking good.” Feix responded, “And I see you are still lying.”

Now both Feix and Gilbert are gone, but this is no lie: Butch Gilbert was one of the good guys. So was Jimmy Feix.

*CHRIS SOUDER not only coached Marion County to the state girls basketball championship this year but was named state coach of the year later.

Souder came to Logan County as an assistant to Dick Webb, one of Logan’s best-ever boys coaches. When Webb left after his 1993 Cougars had lost in overtime in the regional finals, Souder became head coach. Not long after, he was named head baseball coach, too. Eventually, Principal Bob Nylin told him that was too big a load, and he needed to pick one or the other. He chose basketball. I thought it was a mistake at the time, since LCHS and its fans were expecting every Cougar coach to match the success of his predecessors, Gerald Sinclair (state champion), Barry Reed (regional finalist) and Webb (regional finalist). Meanwhile his 1995 baseball team had reached the regional finals despite a 14-15 record.

Souder left for his home area of Harrodsburg after that next 1996 season, giving way to Ray Maggard’s unique coaching style. Souder has stuck with basketball during the 21 seasons which have followed, culminating in this super season.

By the way, Souder’s baseball successor, David Whitty, stayed on the job only one year. His successor? Ethan Meguiar! Principal Bob Nylin was reluctant to make Meguiar head coach so young, since he had not even been an assistant coach following an outstanding playing career at LCHS and Campbellsville University. “I was afraid if he didn’t succeed immediately, he might never coach again, and I thought he would eventually be an outstanding coach,” Nylin remembers.

Nylin was right, probably on both counts. If Ethan had bombed early, we might never have known the man who has coached the Cougars to over 400 wins in 21 seasons, won a regional championship, reached two other regional finals, and developed Logan into the 13th District’s dominant team.

*Former Franklin-Simpson football coach Tim Schlosser has been named Jostens’ National Educator of the Year through the Jostens Renaissance Program. When Schlosser took over the principal’s role in 2012, Franklin was in trouble with the state on standardized test scores and other accountability measures. Now the school is recording distinguished ratings, discipline referrals have been cut by more than half, and attendance is significantly improved.

What’s the local connection? Maybe it’s a stretch, but his wife is the granddaughter of El Donaldson, one of the most respected coaches in Russellville football history. Coach Donaldson left RHS shortly before the 1943 season, and for decades the BGH Purples have played in El Donaldson Stadium.

Also, Schlosser is a very close friend of Russellville businessman Roy Morgan of Roy’s Bar-B-Q.

*Also in the Franklin line, Simpson’s County’s best-known resident came through again by winning his second U.S. Senior Open this weekend in Massachusetts. Kenny Perry set a record for the lowest four-day total in Senior Open history with a 264, in the process breaking his own record of 267 that he shared with Hale Irwin. This was his fourth Championship series major championship.

Kenny Perry is one of the finest gentlemen in professional sports.

Last week our daughter Lindsay asked me if I had ever considered calling in to the radio/Directv Dan Patrick Show with my own sports commentary. I told her just once, when I almost answered Dan’s question of “Who can you always trust to tell the truth in big time sports?” My answer would have been Kenny Perry. You can bank on what he says.

Kenny’s local connections abound. 1) He is a close friend and former teammate of WKU men’s golf coach Phillip Hatchett of Russellville. 2) He set the record—in fact, obliterated it—in the Russellville Invitational Tournament as a young man while blowing away the field on the late/lamented Russellville Country Club course. 3) He might never have been a PGA player had it not been for apersonal  loan from Franklin’s Ronnie Ferguson to play in the PGA qualifier. Ferguson’s roots come from the Price family of Adairville, and he is a cousin of Larry Price and Janet Hall of Logan County.

And 4) Kenny is a close friend of former Logan Aluminum President and CEO Mike Harris. In addition to worshiping together, they share three grandchildren. Kenny and Sandy Perry’s daughter Lesslye is married to Mike and Brenda Harris’ son Justin.

*When the University of Louisville made sports history, it was a graduate of Russellville High School who was the first to note it. Last week Cardinals baseball player Brendan McKay won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s top college baseball player.

Former Panther Kelly Dickey had his research ready. Since U of L quarterback Lamar Jackson was the Heisman Trophy recipient, Dickey sent out the word that Louisville is the first college in NCAA history to field the outstanding player in both football and baseball in the same school year. Only two other colleges have had players win both awards, and the other two, Michigan and UCLA

Dickey—the grandson of the late Pete and Mama Kate Hancock--is widely recognized as the leading expert on Cardinals sports history. His Twitter offerings on RealCardinalGame are popular among Louisville sports fans, even though he lives in Maryland. He’s described as the “Louisville Cardinals stats junkie.”

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