Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 24, 2012

MARK MAYNARD: Coles-Putnam memories from '62

Mark Maynard
The Independent

ASHLAND — One thing tradition always does is lead to good stories. It gives you something to chase and somewhere to start.

When I arrived at work on Tuesday morning, a friend had left a package of three photographs on my desk.

That’s not usual for me, as my staff would tell you. Everybody knows I like a good story to chase.

These were black-and-white photos of a football team posed in front of the old Coles Junior High School. Immediately, my mind thought Kiwanis Bowl.

That’s tradition.

Long before Russell and Ashland freshmen started playing the Kiwanis Bowl on an annual basis in 1979, the game was between city junior highs Coles and Putnam. It was the Super Bowl of our day in Ashland.

I recognized a few familiar faces from the team photo, including Billy Lynch. He was an outstanding athlete then and is an even better person today. Lynch went on to become one of the best baseball players ever in Ashland.

I called Dan Phillips, who was nice enough to drop the photos off at my office, to confirm some other names and find out the origin of the photos. His uncle, John Chinn, had found them in the home of his father Clyde Chinn — one of the best umpires to ever call balls and strikes around here, by the way. John Chinn was on that team, which happens to be the 1962 Coles Broncos and this happens to be the 50th anniversary of that particular game. How nice for me.

It was the 11th Kiwanis Bowl and both Coles and Putnam went into the showdown with undefeated records for the first time in series history.

The game was played on Oct. 25 — 50 years ago to the day of tomorrow night’s Kiwanis Bowl in Putnam Stadium — and the weather was winterlike. The temperature was in the 30s and it was spitting rain and snow most of the day although the field remained in excellent condition. Putnam Stadium, celebrating its 75th year this fall, was only 25 at the time.

Despite inclement weather an estimated 2,000 fans jammed into the stadium to witness the game. One of those fans was freshman Jim Smith, who said he had never been colder walking home after a game.

“My feet were frozen,” he said. “I’ll never forget it.”

Coles won 7-0 with the only touchdown of the game set up by a blocked punt at the 30-yard line in the first quarter.

Robert Oakley rushed in to block the punt of Bud Figley, who had to leap to corral a high snap. Oakley caught the kick flush and the football was recovered on the four. Two plays later quarterback Sammy Carr sneaked over from the one and Lynch bulled in for the conversion (then counted as only one point if you kicked or ran or passed it over the goalline).

The win kept the Broncos undefeated at 5-0 and also clinched the inaugural Tri-State Football Conference title. Coles gave up only one touchdown all season and had a two-year undefeated streak (although the Broncos and Bucs played to a 6-6 deadlock in the 1961 Kiwanis Bowl).

Lynch, who was called the husky running back in the game story, had 42 of the 67 yards that Coles gained.

Lynch and Oakley were also the stars on defense for Coles.

Figley and Jeff Ward were Putnam’s defensive stars while Robby Mahan rushed for 33 yards and Rodney White 20.

Defenses mostly dominated play with neither team turning it over except for the blocked punt.

Some of the other players for the Broncos included Mike Hamilton, Clint Wheeler, John Chinn, Jim Lett, Frank Gibbons and Bill Swimm. Claude Blanton was the head coach for Coles.

Some of the other players on the Buccanners’ roster included quarterback Eddie Steil, Jeff Ward, Steve Ward, John Thomas, Mike Reed and Tim Stevens. Don Forgey was the head coach for Putnam.

While it was the 11th Kiwanis Bowl, it was the 29th time Coles and Putnam clashed.

The bands from both schools performed together in a spectacular halftime show with the red-and-gray Putnam uniforms and the blue-and-white Coles uniforms blending well.

Patty Sweeney of Coles was crowned as the Kiwanis Bowl Queen. Carolyn Castle and Mary Fink were attendants from Coles, and Sharon Washington and Susan Tackett were attendants from Putnam.

In the last game between Coles and Putnam in 1978, the Broncos pulled out a 6-0 victory on a rainy night.

By flipping through the newspapers of October 1962, there were many stories about the Cuban Missile Crisis and how President Kennedy was putting in 12- to 17-hour days and was never more than one or two steps from the telephone.

Locally, the day after the Kiwanis Bowl, was the first night of operation for Paradise Lanes off U.S. 60. The bowling alley closed last year.

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