Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 15, 2013

HOBSTETTER'S HOT ROUTES: Grand Finale? Special Moment for Conleys

Kyle Hobstetter
The Independent

ASHLAND — If last Friday night was indeed the last game at Putnam Stadium as everyone has known it for the past 76 years, one of the venue’s final touchdowns helped serve as a fitting finale.

With legendary former Tomcats coach Herb Conley tuned into the radio, his grandson Cody Conley picked off a pass and flew 26 yards for a third-quarter score. It was the senior’s first career varsity TD.

“I told him all year long, ‘You’re going to pick one of those off,’” Herb Conley said. “I was really happy for him. He’s worked hard this year and has really improved.”

Herb Conley had back surgery two weeks ago, having his first, second, third, fourth and fifth lumbar operated on.

And while he was originally at the game, the frigid temperatures were just too much for him.  

“It was so cold the first half,” Herb Conley said. “I left at halftime.”

Luckily the interception did happen before he got out of the car, and he heard the call by Tomcats play-by-play announcer Dicky Martin.

“I pulled up to the back of my house and that’s when he scored. I was listening at the time, but I was wanting to see it.”

Herb Conley coached Ashland from 1968 to 1976, accumulating 70 career wins and recording two state-runner up finishes.

Putnam Stadium was to originally undergo its restoration project before this season, but the restoration committee and school system were about $300,000 shy of being able to complete Phase I last spring.

Because of deteriorating concrete, 900 seats of the stadium were closed off all season.

Audibles

-Lawrence County doesn’t have good history against Belfry. Coming into tonight’s Class 3A region semifinal game, the Bulldogs have a 4-13 record against the Pirates.

That includes a 35-12 loss back on Oct. 18 which saw Belfry run for 356 yards and Lawrence County struggle with turnovers.

Along with not picking up a win against Belfry since 2003, the Pirates have eliminated Lawrence County from the playoffs the past two years.

-Quinton Baker’s status is in question. The Tomcats’ star running back has been listed as questionable for tonight’s game at Highlands.

Baker left last week’s game against Holmes with an ankle injury. If the sophomore is out for tonight’s game, it will be the second straight playoff game against Highlands he would miss.

The sophomore has run for 1,607 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.

-Russell and Bourbon County is not a normal matchup. The two teams have played only once — back in 1966 when Bourbon County won 26-7.

After 47 years, the two teams meet in the Class 3A region semifinal at undefeated Bourbon County.

For six games, Bourbon was led by senior quarterback Dalton Pope, who had over 1,300 passing yards and 19 TDs.

The Colonels were dealt a loss when Pope broke his ankle in Week 6 against Estill County. So Bourbon then put the offense behind junior running back Brent Holman.

Holman responded by going for more than 1,500 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns on the ground.

And along with the offense, Bourbon County’s defense has been one of the best in Class 3A. It has allowed just 107 points in 11 games.

‰Raceland and Paintsville meet in the playoffs for the first time ever. And for the first time since 2009, the Rams will be looking to move past the region semifinals.

The Rams are on a five-game winning streak, and if they win tonight they will play in the region finals at home.

Into the airwaves

Tonight’s radio coverage:

Ashland at Highlands (WBVB 97.1-FM); Covington Catholic at Johnson Central (WSIP 98.9-FM); Lawrence County at Belfry (WZAQ 92.3-FM); Russell at Bourbon County (WLGC 105.7-FM).

-The Raceland-Paintsville game can be seen live online at www.ihigh.com/rams/.

Shameless Plug

To get breaking news, updates and scores from all area sports, follow me on Twitter (@KHobstetter). You can also follow sports editor Aaron Snyder (@DindependentQB) if you can deal with all the One Direction tweets.

Personal Note

At the end of the month I will be leaving The Independent and moving to Baltimore with my fiancee.

I want to thank sports editor Aaron Snyder, editor Mark Maynard, Rocky Stanley and the entire staff of The Independent for being incredible to work with this these past three years.

I also want to thank the numerous coaches and athletes that dealt with me over the years. You all have made this an enjoyable and memorable experience for me and I wish all of you the best of luck if the future.

And most of all I want to thank the readers. Through both the positive and negative feedback, thank you for reading the newspaper.

So ... thank you.

KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at khobstetter@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2658.