Coles vs. Putnam in Kiwanis Bowl: Could it happen again?

There hasn’t been a good old-fashioned Kiwanis Bowl since 1978.

That was when Coles defeated Putnam 6-0 on a rainy night in Putnam Stadium to conclude a 27-year series that began in 1952. Ashland’s two junior highs would merge into Verity Middle School the following year.

Ashland and Russell freshmen teams filled the void and have played for the past 40 years. It’s been a huge game for both schools and stoked the Ashland-Russell football rivalry.

But it wasn’t the same as Coles vs. Putnam.

When it looked like the Russell-Ashland Kiwanis Bowl wasn’t going to be played because of smaller than normal freshmen classes, the idea of simulating in some form a Coles-Putnam Kiwanis Bowl was asked of me by Ashland Kiwanian Boo King.

I was intrigued. How could it be done? I let my imagination run wild and came up with a way (of course I did, right?).

Rosters would be made from Ashland Tomcat All-State (in any form) and those players were put on the junior highs they attended. It led to a powerhouse roster for both teams.

Imagine this: Nick Jordan at defensive tackle and Herb Conley behind him at linebacker. Anybody want to take on that Buccaneer combination?

Coles backfield could consist of Gary Thomas, Richard Gardner and Pierre Harshaw with Scott Crank at quarterback. And, oh yes, Terry Bell and Steve Justice will be blocking for them (among others).

Crank was the quarterback for Coles in the last Kiwanis Bowl and scored the game’s only touchdown on a 56-yard run down the sloppy sideline. Randy Cooper had him in his sights and grabbed his jersey – a tearaway jersey that Coles coach Jerry Mayes had purchased for his team – and Cooper was left with a handful of jersey.

Meanwhile, Crank pranced into the end zone with shoulder pads exposed and flapping.

Team captains for the simulated game: Putnam had Herb Conley and Greg Conley, who was quarterback for the Bucs as an eighth-grader in that 1978 game. Coles captains are Steve Curnutte and Mike Gothard, who left Ashland and made a mighty impression at Vanderbilt.

There were many great moments in Kiwanis Bowl history but not many high-scoring games. The biggest was when Putnam defeated Coles 28-16 in 1969. The Bucs won the series 12-11-4. Eleven games were decided by a touchdown or less along with the four ties.

The simulation game easily eclipses those 44 points. My game was played with 15-minute quarters to allow for more players to get into the game, which is a barnburner

If you want to know more, you’ll have to tune in to the Coach Jason Mays and Dicky Show on Wednesday at 8 p.m. when Dicky and myself will bring you the play-by-play account. . You will want to listen to the end.

The Ashland Kiwanis Club will be putting together a commemorative program of the simulated game complete with rosters, game story and box score. If you own a business, please be generous. This is the club’s biggest fundraiser of the year and they do so much for the community. This will clearly be a keepsake program and they will be selling copies in November. What a great Christmas gift that could be for the players who made the list. Call club president Mike Maynard at (606) 694-0504 to be part of it.

A story and full box score will be on my Facebook page after the game,

The Ashland-Russell Kiwanis Bowl will be played Thursday night with sophomores and freshmen players from both sides. I’m glad the tradition continues in some form.

But if you’re old school, this simulation game is for you.

Published by

Mark Maynard

Managing editor of Kentucky Today, the digital newspaper of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, since July 2017. Worked 42 years for The Daily Independent in Ashland, Kentucky, the last 12 as managing editor and editor and the previous 30 before that in the sports department, including 17 years as sports editor. I have been in the business since 1975 with more than 75 writing awards from the Kentucky Press Association. I have also have written eight books, used to run fast but now look more like I have a piano on my back. President of Amy For Africa, a faith-based Christian ministry serving Uganda. I'm a husband to Beth and father to Stephen and Sally, grandfather to Brooks and human to Opie!

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