Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 24, 2012

MARK MAYNARD: Great day to be an Eagle

Mark Maynard
The Independent

WESTWOOD — Fairview’s 40-6 dismantling of Hazard Friday night in the Class A semifinals was more than a triumph for the precious present.

It was also one for the Fairview founders.

It was for Paul Reliford, the school’s first football coach.

It was for Denver Ball, the superintendent who had the vision to hire Reliford and start the program in 1970.

It was for Deward Davis, the organizer of the Westwood Boys Club football league who had the players primed for Reliford.

It was for Scott Davidson, a longtime assistant and Reliford’s first assistant coach.

It was for Rex Cooksey, still the winningest coach in school history who gave his heart and soul to Fairview football including fifteen seasons as the head coach.

It was for Carl Thompson, the superintendent who had the vision to restart the program after it went dormant for two years in 1996 and 1997.

It was for Bill Musick, who came home to become the head coach and principal and then the superintendent. He carries the same love for football that his predecessors as superintendent had.

Musick understands the past can be precious, too. He had an autographed football tucked under his arm after the game Friday night. It was going to Don Salyers, a former Fairview star player in 1974. He couldn’t make it to the game because of illness.

“I’m taking it to his mother’s house tonight,” Musick said.

The superintendent looked at the west end of the field at the bent goalpost and gave a nostalgic glance.

“I watched the National Guard put that goal post up in 1970,” he said. “I was just a little guy.”

It was for all those players the past 42 years who put on Fairview’s black-and-red. Many of them came back Friday night to watch the Eagles play in the biggest game in school history — until next Friday afternoon in the state championship against Mayfield.

It was for Garry McPeek, Fairview’s principal/assistant coach who has been chasing the brass ring for 24 years.

It was for Scott McIntyre, a longtime assistant coach and former player who has been part of Fairview’s program since the mid-1980s. He was on the first playoff team in 1987.

It was for longtime fans like George Stout, who has followed Fairview football for a lifetime.

It was for radio broadcaster Tom Hobbs, who coined the popular “Believe in the Wood.” He kept saying Friday’s game was like a dream. “Please don’t wake me up,” he said.

It was for Nathan McPeek, the young head coach who has Fairview in the state championship game and is having the time of his life.

It was for all those and many, many more.

“A program win” is what Nathan McPeek called it. “I couldn’t tell you how many former players came up to me after the game to congratulate me,” he said.

It was an unexpected landslide victory with Fairview’s high-powered offense doing a number on the defending Class A champions.

The stakes jump up a notch next week with mighty Mayfield waiting.

But for the next 24 hours, the Eagles can savor the sweet taste of a semifinal victory. It’s the first one around here since 2006 when Russell defeated Belfry on the road. It’s the first one on area turf since Russell in 2005.

It hasn’t happened often to area teams so it should be embraced.

“I was here when we didn’t have football,” McIntyre said. “Talk about a ghost town.

“Look what it does in the community? I don’t think anybody was home in Westwood tonight.”

Reliford was the honorary captain before the game.

He was convinced to start the program by Ball, his high school coach. Mr. Ball saw the need because of the success of the Westwood Boys Club teams. They needed a place to keep playing.

Reliford, who was the truant officer at Raceland schools at the time, took the challenge.

He had been working in the summers on the railroad and after accepting the job at Fairview got an offer from the railroad for twice was he was making as a teacher and coach.

Reliford was married with two young boys. While the money would be nice, it wasn’t enough to entice.

“I loved Mr. Ball and I knew I’d be happy,” he said.

He was right. It translated into a lifetime of teaching and educating students in the Fairview school system. He became the superintendent but was always involved with football.

He oversaw the building of the Fairview football stadium in 1970.

“I helped put in the first bleachers,” he said.

Friday’s victory was for a lot of people, some of them new to Fairview football and some of them who have been around as long as the program has proudly stood in Westwood.

This was a night to remember for Fairview High School football.

Never has there been a better day.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.