By AARON SNYDER
RACELAND Tying up the laces for Raceland forms strings that tug at the heart.
The small school with proud football tradition introduced the inaugural inductees into the Raceland Football Legends Hall of Fame on Saturday prior to the Rams’ season-opening victory over East Carter.
A full day’s events consisted of the third annual Ram Reunion, a formal induction ceremony and a pregame celebration of the 22 former players and the program’s winningest coach, Bill Tom Ross.
Mike Mills and his wife traveled more than 2,300 miles from San Diego to take part. They made a trip out of it, including stops in Louisville — where they flew into — and Lexington.
“Although I moved away, I follow the program very closely through the Internet, through articles,” said Mills, a 1976 graduate. Mills hadn’t been at a game since a Russell-Raceland meeting in 2007 when his nephew’s son, Tyler Boyles, was a standout player.
Aaron Pettrey came in from Columbus. The 2003 first-team All-Stater went on to star for the Ohio State Buckeyes and played in two games as a Cincinnati Bengal.
“If I could go back and play one more game with any of the teams I was on, it’d be here (at Raceland),” said Pettrey, who holds the Kentucky high school record for completion percentage in a season as a quarterback. “I was playing with my best friends. It wasn’t about anything else, you just went out and played.”
Marty Johnson, the president of the Raceland-Worthington Touchdown Club, and Rocky Crouch, the Hall of Fame chairman, coordinated the event. Johnson said he was elated to see his two main goals as club president come to fruition — the Ram Reunion and football Hall of Fame.
Johnson said a committee comprised of former players from just about every decade and former coaches is in charge of selecting inductees. The first class included 22 players and a coach to signify a complete football team.
Each honoree was presented with a shadowbox containing a Rams jersey with his number on it.
“It was a very first-class, really nice ceremony,” said Michael Salmons, a 1999 graduate and current assistant coach.
From now on, there will be three to five new inductees each fall, Johnson said.
Ross, whose record was 112-48 from 1983 to 1996, received a standing ovation during Saturday afternoon’s induction ceremony. He wasn’t able to return to campus for the game.
Health issues have limited Ross’ activity lately, but Johnson said he’s been more upbeat the last few times he’s spoken with the coach. Ross also won 31 games at Boyd County and was an assistant coach at Ashland.
James Boggs, a 1989 Raceland graduate, played his entire career under Ross.
“He brought Raceland to another level of winning,” said Boggs, who suffered a career-ending ACL injury as a senior. “He was a hoot. He loved us, respected us, but you never knew what to expect.”
Joining Boggs from the 1989 class was Scott Speaks. Speaks and Boggs were on teams that combined for 30 wins over their last three seasons.
“Most of the guys I played with, we played together all the way from grade school up, all our lives together,” Boggs said. “At Raceland, it’s a bond that can’t be cut, can’t be broken until the grave.”
Boggs said it was special to be honored alongside many of the older Raceland players who “set the tone” for the program.
Randy Heaberlin, a lineman and 1973 graduate, echoed those thoughts.
“It was amazing to see these older gentlemen who started the great tradition that Raceland has,” Heaberlin said.
Fred Brumfield (1950 graduate) and Ray McCulley (1966) were among the several others in attendance. All but one inductee (Carl Adkins, 1934) was represented by either himself or a family member.
The complete list of inaugural members (with senior year): Carl “Punk” Adkins (1934); Eddie Colvin (1941); Glennard French (1946); Ronnie Potter (1949); Ronnie Cox (1949); Clyde “Jigsaw” Adams (1949); Fred Brumfield (1950); Gaylord Thompson (1950); Tom Sammons (1951); Virgil “Buckshot” Adkins (1954); Paul Rose (1957); Scott Davidson (1959); Ray McCulley (1966); Joe Nicely (1968); Randy Heaberlin (1973); Terry Howell (1976); Mike Mills (1976); James Boggs (1989); Scott Speaks (1989); Michael Salmons (1999); Aaron Pettrey (2003); Robby Logan (2009); and Coach Bill Tom Ross (1983-1996).
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.