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Thursday, August 31, 2023

CCHS Football, the Early Years

Superintendent Robert Polston announced in September of 1971 that work was officially underway on a football field at the new Clinton County High School in Albany, Kentucky and that a football coach would be employed in the near future. Although all the nearby counties, except for Adair County, had been playing football for some­ time, CCHS had never had a football program. Developing a football team from scratch would be a slow process and it would take some­ time before the school would be able to play a regular schedule.

Behind the idea of having a football program at Clinton County High School was math and economics teacher Jim Dick, a CCHS alumni. He took the initiative to make it all happen and was the person most responsible for rallying player prospects. Before the announcement was made that a football field was under construction, he had already begun talking about and teachings the rules and basic fundamentals of football to those prospects who were interested. By May of 1972, forty prospects, now known as players, were being taught football by Coach Dick. A large number of those players were eighth and ninth graders. The headline in the Clinton County News said "CCHS Football Team Looks Promising."

I consider Jim Dick to be the father of football at Clinton County and much gratitude and respect is due him for his efforts in getting the program underway. The 1964 CCHS graduate worked the players into shape during the spring of 1972 and by fall scrimmage games and a junior varsity schedule was organized. A new football field was being readied for what was to come. By August, the field was nearing completition. Bleachers and lights were forthcoming.

Most of the equipment Coach Dick used was practice equipment. On March 16, 1972, the board of education began accepting sealed bids for football equipment; fifty helmets with face guards, fifty shoulder pads in different sizes, hip pads, thigh pads and knee pads, fifty practice jerseys and practice pants, shoes, mouth pieces, elbow pads, six footballs, blocking and push-back dummies, goal line flags, a lineman chain, field and yard line markers and accessories, and two blocking sleds.

By late summer, Custer, South Dakota native Tom Gaebler, the first of­ficial head football coach who had been All-State at Bourbon County and All-Conference at Eastern Kentucky University, and Coach Dick began working with the football prospects as the 1972-73 school year was just getting underway. CCHS football's first head coach said his first concern with this team was to get the players in shape before attempting any real practice. Plays and 'run throughs' would come later, he said, after he felt the boys could take it.

1972 was a season of five scrimmage games only, for learning the rules and fundamentals of the game (a junior varsity team also played a few games). We lost the first two scrimmage games, at Metcalfe and Russell counties. The first official home football game played in Albany was on Oct. 17, 1972 against the Adair County Indians. We lost 28-to-24, after having just defeated the Indians 14-to-8 two weeks earlier on Oct. 5th at Columbia in the third scrimmage game of the season. In that game, Adair County scored on their second possession. Just before the first half ended, Clinton County's Kenny Sells' back to back touchdowns and Junior Conner's successful extra points gave the Bulldogs a 14-to-8 lead. Neither team scored after that, although the Bulldogs came close several times. We won the final scrimmage game 14-to-0 at home game against Wayne County on Oct. 25th. It was two touchdowns by Kenny Sells and a very good defense that gave the Bulldogs a rare win over the Cardinals, but a great one for our young program. So, we won two games and lost three that first year of football at CCHS.

Official varsity competition would begin in 1973 and what happened in 1972 was a promising beginning. Here is that team's roster according to the Clinton County News.

JUNIORS
Teddy Aaron, Linebacker
Willie Arms, Linebacker
Dale Cole, Running Back
Junior Conner, Running Back
Gary Elmore, Tight End
Kevin Lowborn, Tackle
Mike Massengale, Quarterback
Garland McWhorter, Guard
Junior Melton, Wide Receiver
Bobby Reneau, Tight End
Kenny Sells, Running Back
Earl Stearns, Tight End
Ned Sloan, Tackle

SOPHOMORES
Barry Barnette, Tackle
Ricky Burchett, Guard
Larry Claborn, Tackle
David Cross, Tackle
Leon McClard, Tackle
Lonnie Perdue, Wide Receiver
Rickie Wallace, Tight End
Anthony Wilson, Tackle

FRESHMEN
Johnny DeRossett, Quarterback
Jeff Fryman, Defensive Back
Larry Perdue, Running Back
Mike Staton, Linebacker
Tom Thrasher, Quarterback
Leon Wilson, Tackle

Managers
Junior Couch, Danny McFall

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