Frank Rolen made impact on many lives

I remember meeting Frank Rolen for the first time. He was coaching an Ashland American Little League All-Star team with either one or both of his sons on the roster. Steve and Mike were both good players so it’s no surprise the Twins won the league title that year, giving Frank the opportunity to be the coach of the All-Stars. I don’t remember the year because it was too long ago.

But Frank Rolen made an impression on me that day for his gentlemanly ways. He wasn’t a coach who screamed at his players. He taught them, encouraged them and kindly corrected them. He exuded kindness. Always. I can’t recall if his team won or lost that day, but it didn’t matter. Frank was Frank either way. He was a godly man and I knew that before I knew him. That’s the way you want it to be. His witness was there for all to see. He was the recreation director at the federal prison here and I’m sure he was a godly example for that mission field, too. I cannot imagine the many lives he touched.

Frank Rolen left a lifetime legacy of serving.

In the community, he was involved in youth baseball on several levels. Trust me, you’d want your son (or daughter) playing for him.

Later in life, our lives crossed again at Unity Baptist Church where I served with him as a deacon for several years. Frank was the same. He was level-headed, smart and a good servant of the church. I learned a lot from watching him and always engaged him in conversations, mostly about the Ashland Tomcats, one of his favorite subjects. He was also so proud of his family, daughter Marla and sons Mike and Steve. We talked often about Steve, who is one of the greatest baseball players ever from this area. He played several years of professional baseball. That was part of my sports bond with Frank over the years.

We had great fun talking about sports in general. He enjoyed it as much as I did. But Frank was more than a good conversationalist. He was a friend who would do anything to help anyone in need. His sweet wife, Ella Mae, his bride of 66 years, is much the same. She’s precious. Please pray for her, too.

Frank left this world on Friday night, but his impact will be here far longer. He was a friend and brother to so many including my father-in-law Fred Boggs, who was one of his golfing buddies over the years. It’s tough watching your friends pass away and my father-in-law has experienced a lot of that lately. It leaves an irreplaceable void. Fred spoke to him for 45 minutes on Thanksgiving, so I’m thankful for that. I know Fred is hurting badly over this one, along with our church family, who loves the Rolen family.

I do know heaven is much sweeter place now with Frank on the scene. He will be looking around for somebody to help. I can guarantee that.

He had a servant’s heart that beat strong for his God, his family, his friends and his community and was an example to many.

Rest in peace, Frank Rolen. Well done.

Sang’s last play interception clinches dramatic Kiwanis Bowl win for Coles

ASHLAND, Ky. – Rick Sang came down with an interception in the end zone on a jump ball last play to give Coles a 38-35 victory over Putnam in the simulated Kiwanis Bowl played at Putnam Stadium.

The game featured all-star Tomcats from the years 1952 to 1978 when the Kiwanis Bowl was played between Ashland junior highs. They merged to become Verity Middle School in 1979.

Sang was in a cluster of Broncos and Buccaneers trying to come down with Tommy Ferguson’s last-gasp pass from 30 yards out. Sang, Steve Curnutte and Mike Kimbrell battled for Coles while Monte Campbell, George Branham and Randy Elkins were doing their best to get their hands on the football for the Bucs.

Sang was the first to get touch it with his right hand and then clutched it tight with the left while tumbling to the ground. He was soon mobbed by teammates who had come running over from the sideline as the Coles band, sitting nearby, played the school fight song.

“The Kiwanis Bowl should come down to the last play and Rick Sang made us a winner with that grab,” said Coles coach Claude Blanton. “That Putnam bunch could play. What a great drive at the end of the game. We had a couple of hold-your-breath moments on that drive. I didn’t know what was going to happen when Tommy let that pass go.”

It was a tough loss for Putnam coach Jerry Clark, who had to console his players after the heartbreaker.

“We had our chances there at the end,” he said. “It wasn’t anybody’s fault. Tommy put it up there where anybody could have gotten it. Sang just had a little better angle and got his hands on it. He pinned us deep on a punt, but my guys came fighting back and nearly pulled this dang game out. I’m proud of ‘em all, I’ll tell you that.”

Coles had taken a 38-28 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter when Mike Gothard scored on a 7-yard run.

Putnam rallied to within 38-35 when John Radjunas connected with Elkins for a 24-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Sang nearly broke the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown but was pushed out of bounds on the 47. The Broncos faced a fourth-and-two on the 32 but decided to let Sang try to pin the Bucs on a pooch punt, which he did, with the ball rolling dead at the 7.

With only two minutes remaining, it looked hopeless for Putnam.

However, Dick Fillmore got loose down the sideline for a 40-yard run to the 47 on the first play and Ferguson found Roger Webb for a 23-yard gain to the Coles’ 30 with only seconds remaining. He threw a pass to the end zone that Curnutte knocked away and then Sang came up with the pick on the last play of the game.

The teams were tied 21-21 at the half.

Each team had an early touchdown in the third quarter. Paul Hill’s 16-yard barreling run put Coles ahead 28-21 with Phil Walters kicking the extra point and then Steve Layman powered into the end zone on a 1-yard run to tie it up again for Putnam after Elkins extra point.

Coles capped off a 71-yard scoring drive with Terry Fish’s 27-yard field goal to lead 31-28 before Gothard’s touchdown put the Broncos ahead by 10 points.

Fillmore finished with 136 yards on eight carries and Herb Conley had 84 yards on 13 carries to lead Putnam runners. Gary Thomas rushed for 91 yards on seven carries and Joey Layman had 45 yards on only three carries for Coles.

Putnam’s Ferguson completed 7 of 12 passes for 76 yards while Radjunas and Greg Conley threw for 39 and 38 years, respectively. Scott Crank was 2 of for 27 yards for Coles.

Webb had three catches for 45 yards and Rob Queen had two catches for 27 yards.

Donna Childers was named the Kiwanis Bowl Queen at halftime.

PUTNAM JR. HIGH         14         7            7            7              –            35

COLES JR. HIGH               14         7            10         7              –            38


COLES-Steve Curnutte 30 interception return (Terry Fish kick)

COLES-Gary Thomas 13 run (Fish kick)

PUTNAM-Herb Conley 2 run (Randy Elkins kick)

PUTNAM-Dick Fillmore 14 run (Elkins kick)


PUTNAM-Monte Campbell 16 pass from Tom Ferguson (Elkins kick)

COLES-Pierre Harshaw 22 run (Fish kick)


COLES-Paul Hill 16 run (Phil Walters kick)

PUTNAM-Steve Layman 1 run (Elkins kick)

COLES-Fish 27 field goal


COLES-Mike Gothard 7 run (Phil Walters kick)

PUTNAM-Elkins 24 pass from John Radjunas (Elkins kick)

                            PJH                     CJH

First downs        30                       26

Rushes-yards     51-370               51-384

Passes                 10-19-1              5-9-0

Yards passing     125                     57

Fumbles lost      1                         1

Penalties            1-11                    0-0

Punts                  3-45.3                 3-45.3


Putnam rushing: Dick Fillmore 8-136, Herb Conley 13-84, Robert Wright 4-27, Robby Mahan 2-21, Steve Layman 5-18, Randy Rice 3-16, Tom Ferguson 5-14, John Radjunas 3-13, Greg Conley 2-10, Rick Smoot 1-10, Jay Shippey 2-9, Dick Vaughan 1-8, Dick McGuire 1-7, Jerry Bentley 1-2.

Coles rushing: Gary Thomas 7-91, Paul Hill 6-43, Joey Layman 3-45, Mike Gothard 7-38, Pierre Harshaw 4-37, Roger Gardner 3-28, Steve Curnutte 4-19, Richard Gardner 4-18, Tobey Tolbert 1-18, Jack Williams 7-13, Kendall Bocard 3-12, Richard Gardner 9-84, Scott Crank 7-61, Toby Tolbert 8-51, Pierre Harshaw 7-57, Robert Wright 5-20, Dave Hall 2-23, Steve Curnutte 1-10, Joey Layman 2-9, Joe Mantle 2-11.

Putnam passing: Tom Ferguson 5 of 12 for 76 yards yards (2 int.), John Radjunas 3 of 10 for 39 yards, Greg Conley 3 of 3 for 38 yards.

Coles passing: Scott Crank 2 of 4 for 27 yards, Chuck Anderson 2 of 3 for 19 yards, Steve Curnutte 1 of 2 for 11 yards.

Putnam receiving: Roger Webb 3-45, Monte Campbell 3-26, George Branham 1-10, Randy Elkins 2-34, JB Conley 1-10.

Coles receiving: Rob Queen 2-27, Rick Sang 1-12, Gary Thomas 1-11, Willie Thomas 1-7.


Here are some statistics from the first half of the Kiwanis Bowl simulation game between former Tomcat greats who also played at Coles and Putnam.

The score is tied 21-21 and the second half will be broadcast on Wednesday night at 8 on “The Coach Jason Mays and Dicky Show” on Facebook and on Fox Sports 1420 AM on iHeart.

Putnam outgained the Broncos 220-177 but two costly turnovers gave up a pair of touchdowns, one on the first play of the game when Steve Curnutte took a pass in the flat back 30 yards for a score.

Putnam fumbled on its second possession and Coles scored in two plays with Gary Thomas racing 13 yards for a touchdown. Terry Fish’s second extra point made it 14-0.But the Bucs rallied by driving 89 yards in 11 plays with Herb Conley barreling in on a 2-yard touchdown run. Dick Fillmore had a pair of long runs to set up the score.

Coles had a high snap out of punt formation on its next possession and Fillmore scored on the ensuing play with a 14-yard touchdown run after using the “limp leg” move to break a tackle initially. Randy Elkins split the uprights on extra points after both touchdowns to tie it at 14-14.

The Bucs’ defense stopped Coles after a drive into Putnam territory and Rick Sang pinned them at the 6 with a 34-yard punt. But Putnam drove it right down the Broncos’ throat on a 94-yard march led by quarterback Greg Conley, who had his father Herb behind him at fullback. The drive was mostly run but the score came off a play fake with Conley finding Monte Campbell – his father’s old teammate – for a 16-yard touchdown over the middle. Elkins extra point made it 21-14.

Coles put together a nice drive of its own, going 66 yards on 11 plays with 10 of them rushing. Pierre Harshaw scored on a 22-yard sprint around right end and Phil Walters kicked the extra point that tied the game 21-21. Curnutte had a big 3-yard quarterback sneak on fourth-and-one to keep the drive alive.


PUTNAM: Herb Conley 9-59, Dick Fillmore 4-54, Randy Rice 2-12, Robby Mahan 2-21, Rick Smoot 2-10, Jay Shippey 2-9, Greg Conley 1-8, Tom Ferguson 2-3.

COLES: Gary Thomas 5-66, Pierre Harshaw 4-37, Mike Gothard 3-19, Joey Layman 1-29, Kendall Bocard 1-4, Richard Gardner 2-10, Scott Crank 3-2, Steve Curnutte 2-9.


PUTNAM: Greg Conley 2-2-0, 36, Tom Ferguson 2-5-1, 15, John Radjunas 1-3-0, 15.

COLES: Scott Crank 0-1-1; Steve Curnutte 1-2-0, 11.


PUTNAM: Monte Campbell 2-21, Randy Webb 1-15, John Thomas 1-15, George Branham 1-10.

COLES: Gary Thomas 1-11.

Donna Childers was named the Kiwanis Bowl Queen at halftime. Attendants were Patty Sweeney, Carolyn Castle, Sandy Hatcher, Jennifer Arthur, Zoe Ann Davis, Lisa Swift and Tammy Wolfe.

LISTEN to the first half at

Simulated Kiwanis Bowl rosters: It’s a Who’s Who of Tomcat football greats

Let your imagination run wild for a minute and picture some of these matchups in real life. It would be epic. We will have to settle for a simulated battle between these Tomcats who were once-upon-a-time stars for Coles and Putnam Junior Highs.

That series lasted from 1952-1978. These players are from 1955 to 1981 with one player who played in the last Kiwanis Bowl as an eighth-grader and graduated in 1982.

They were selected because they made some form of All-State during their Tomcat careers. It’s not everybody because there were a few who didn’t go to Coles or Putnam and some I simply couldn’t find which one they attended. But it’s a bunch of great Tomcats and they will play in a simulated game. Listen to the play-by-play on Wednesday at 8 p.m. with Dicky Martin and myself and read about the game later.

The Ashland Kiwanis Club will be selling a commemorative program that will include rosters and a game story. It’s a great organization that has the community at heart, So if they come knocking, answer and buy an advertisement for this keepsake program.

COLES 1952 to 1978

ENDS: Walt Jones (1955), Gary McPeek (1956), John Stafford (1962), Jim Lyons (1967), Rob Queen (1971), Willie Thomas (1974), Rick Sang (1975), Drew Hall (1980), Ike Ramey (1980)

LINE: Ronnie Perry (1956), Richard Carr (1960), Larry Fairchild (1961)John Burton (1967), Mike Broughton (1969), Steve Justice (1972), Kenny Daniels (1972), Mike Wheeler (1972), Terry Fish (1974), Terry Bell (1974), Casey Jones (1975), Yancey Ramey (1976), Mike Sparks (1976), Phil Walters (1981)

RUNNING BACKS: Joe Layman (1958), Jack Williams (1959), Chip Miller (1962), Tobey Tolbert (1966), Robbie Keeton (1967), Paul Hill (1967), Joe Mantle (1969), Richard Gardner (1971), Pierre Harshaw (1972), Mike Gothard (1974), Wendell Fugitt (1974), Roger Gardner (1974), Gary Thomas (1976),  Steve Clark (1978), Dave Hall (1980)

QUARTERBACKS: Kendall Bocard (1959), Steve Curnutte (1971), Mike Kimbrell (1973), Chuck Anderson (1975), Scott Crank (1981).

PUTNAM 1952 to 1978

ENDS: Monte Campbell (1958), George Branham (1963), John Thomas (1965), Roger Webb (1972), Randy Elkins (1972).

LINE: Dick Vaughn (1955), Bobby Lee (1959)Tim Brown (1962), Nick Jordan (1963), Gary Layman (1965), Les Lyons (1967), Bill Culbertson (1967), Larry Johnson (1967), Tom Lyons (1967), Larry Webb (1967), Larry Leimbach (1967), Eddie Overton (1970), Richard Hinkle (1971), Joe Mayer (1971), David Johnson (1972), Mark Hickman (1973), David Arthur (1978), Brent Dean (1978), Tony Consiglio (1980).

RUNNING BACKS: Robert Wright (1956), Dick Callihan (1957), Herb Conley (1958), Dick Fillmore (1958), Mike McGraw (1960), Bobby Bradley (1961), Eddie Radjunas (1962), Vic McGuire (1963), JB Conley (1963), Robby Mahan (1965), Steve Layman (1972), Jerry Bentley (1972), Randy Rice (1972), Rick Smoot (1973), Rick Allen (1974), Jay Shippey (1976),

QUARTERBACKS: Joe Hearne (1955), Tom Ferguson (1964), John Radjunas (1967), Mark Conley (1976), Greg Conley (1982)