Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

July 11, 2013

Rivalry Relived: Former Ashland, Boyd players eager to suit up again

GRAYSON — Luke Jackson never once beat Ashland in 10 years of playing football growing up.

On Saturday, he and his Boyd County brethren will have one more shot.

Jackson is starting at quarterback for the Lions in the Gridiron Alumni Ashland-Boyd County showdown. The matchup is set for Saturday at 5 p.m. at Kentucky Christian University in Grayson.

To express how seriously he’s taking this gig, the 30-year-old AK Steel crane operator shifted his vacation time to this week in order to adequately prepare for this game.

It’s not just a game for Jackson, it’s a unique family opportunity.

“It’s always been a dream to play football with my two little brothers,” said Jackson, a 1999 graduate. “And I’m really looking forward to playing with generations of Lions.”

Jake Hughes and Casey Hughes, Jackson’s brothers, will play running back and tight end, respectively. Jake graduated in 2004, Casey in 2007.

Football has always been a family tradition for the clan. Dutch Jackson, their grandfather, scored both touchdowns in a 13-0 Boyd County win over Russell in 1948 — the first time the Lions ever beat the Red Devils.

Despite a history containing more than 300 wins, Boyd County’s varsity team is just 16-34 all-time against Ashland. The Lions haven’t toppled the Tomcats since 2003.

Chad Cook, Ashland’s alumni quarterback, enjoyed avenging that ’03 defeat later in his senior season as the Tomcats ousted the Lions in the playoffs.

Cook and company have been practicing in the sand pit across from Putnam Stadium. While it’s been a struggle to align everyone’s schedule to meet, the chance to play alongside Tomcats of the 1980s and ’90s has been rewarding.

“It’s very cool to play with some of the guys that I watched while growing up in the ’90s,” Cook said.

Marty Justice was a sophomore member of the 1990 state championship team. He’s one of the oldest set to suit up on Saturday — the oldest is Joe Broughton (45). Jeff Gee is Boyd County’s oldest, at 42.

Shane Davidson, an Ashland senior in 2011, might be the youngest on the field.

Justice, an offensive/defensive lineman, said it’s been a process getting back in football shape.

“It was tough,” Justice said. “It’s been motivation to exercise more. I’ve been practicing and also going out on my own and trying to run.”

Joked Jackson: “Sprints aren’t any fun at 30 years old.”

“My hamstrings feel it after every practice,” Cook said.

Clayton McClelland will dig into the trenches on Saturday for Boyd County at right guard. The former Lion and Campbellsville University product is used to running practices as an assistant coach over the last couple seasons. But he’s not exactly accustomed to running in practices.

“All the football stuff, that comes back to you,” said McClelland, a 2004 graduate. “It’s just the conditioning factor. You can tell people who have been running and who hasn’t.”

Boyd County has held its practices at the Catlettsburg Little League baseball field outfield since late April.

With players having been coached by several different men — among those are Vic Marsh (Ashland), Ed Vanhoose (Boyd County), Bill Tom Ross (Boyd County), Larry Hall (Ashland) and Leon Hart (Ashland) — a hodge-podge approach has resulted on both sides.

“There was a little bit of a language barrier at first,” said Justice, coached by Marsh. “Our plays had names, theirs had numbers. It’s just different coaching styles, different offenses, picking up each other’s lingo ... it’s all worked out pretty good.”

“It’s old school meeting new school,” added Cook.

Jackson said younger brother Jake has been the brains of the Boyd County offense.

Each team has between 30 and 40 players prepared to step inside the lines on Saturday. Those interested can still join the day of, but there is a roster limit of 50 players.

The cost of $100 ($80 if signed up a month prior) includes uniforms, which are looking sharp, said Cook.

Ashland will wear black, with Boyd County donning red. Gridiron Alumni didn’t possess maroon uniforms.

While smack talk has been virtually non-existent, competitive juices figure to be flowing as the high school rivalry is rekindled.

“Any time you get Boyd County and Ashland together, nobody wants to lose,” McClelland said. “We’re going to have guys playing hard because it’s natural to them. Nobody wants to be embarrassed.”

“We want to win, we’ve got a good game plan. We’ve put many hours of practicing in, in the rain, in the heat,” said Justice, whose 8-year-old son played on a JFL championship team last season. “But we don’t want to injure anybody. Guys have families.

“No cheap shots,” he continued, “but we’re coming to win.”

Brian Taylor, who became widely known for his stint as an NFL replacement referee last year, will be the head official on a five-man crew.

Gridiron Alumni is providing a pep band and cheerleaders to put the finishing touches on creating a high school environment.

The gates open at 4 p.m. Prices of admission are $10 for adults, $5 for students and children 5-and-under are free. A portion of the proceeds (including concession stand) will go to Ashland JFL.

KCU seats approximately 700 people. Cook said it might be a good idea to pack fold-out chairs just in case.

The football/soccer complex, complete with new bleachers and press box, was finished just in time for the fall sports season in August 2012. There are no lights, which is why Saturday’s game begins at 5.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • Eagle Trace Invitational: Draw it up Drew

    Facing a tricky shot on his final hole of the Eagle Trace Invitational, Drew Burke came through with his best work. At the moment, he just didn’t know how clutch.

    August 2, 2014

  • Senior Sixers state runners-up

    The Ashland Post 76 Senior baseball team nearly pulled off the same feat as the Junior Sixers did in the American Legion State Baseball Championships this week.

    August 1, 2014

  • Salyers, Walters Players of Year

    The Walmart Kentucky PGA Junior Tour saw its season come to a close on Wednesday at the Tournament of Champions at Henry County Country Club.

    August 1, 2014

  • Tee Party: High school golf season opens

    A flurry of area tournaments will usher in the high school golf season, which begins today.
    Rowan County’s traditional boys opener, the Eagle Trace Invitational, tees off this morning at 9 with a field of 13 teams.

    August 1, 2014

  • Paintsville senior Miller Baseball Factory selection

    Paintsville baseball player Taylor Miller is currently participating in an elite event at the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training facility in Bradenton, Florida.

    July 31, 2014

  • Barboursville 2015 U.S. Youth Soccer host

    U.S. Youth Soccer announced Thursday that Barboursville and the West Virginia Soccer Association will host the 2015 U.S. Youth Soccer Region I (East) Championships as part of the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship Series.
     

    July 31, 2014

  • Highlands’ Artists Market to begin today

    Up-and-coming artists are being offered a rare chance to show and sell their work during the First Friday art walk.

    July 31, 2014

  • AARON SNYDER: Five Teams? Pretty Kool

    If these unseasonably cool July mornings aren’t enough to have your mind on the fast track to football, maybe some Kool Hits news will help.

    July 31, 2014

  • Golf scramble will benefit Paramount Arts Center

    Paramount Woman’s Association’s seventh annual Ladies’ Golf Scramble is scheduled for Aug. 11 at Bellefonte Country Club.

    July 30, 2014

  • Kittens call on Ingram

    Somebody had to follow Dave Miller.
    Scott Ingram is pleased to be the coach to fill the vacancy for the man who built Ashland Blazer softball into a perennial state Top 25 program. The Kittens have won the 16th Region championship every year since 2009.

    July 29, 2014