Ashland Tomcat 1,000-point club adds 30th member

Cole Villers joined the Ashland Tomcat 1,000-point club on Feb. 5, 2021 against Russell. He joins his brothers, Christian and Chase, among the 30 players in Tomcat history to achieve the milestone. The trio are at 3,814 points and counting.

Cole is a junior guard who still has what remains of the 2021 season and his senior season remaining. He is currently at No. 25 with 1,017 points. He moved in front of the great Harold Sargent from the 1961 Tomcats after scoring 26 against the Red Devils. His career-high of 32 points came in this season’s opener against Highlands.

Three members of the Lynch family – Michael, Bob, and Dale – are among the 1,000-point scorers. Brothers Larry and Joe Conley are also in the club.

Cole Villers drops a pass to a teammate against Rowan County in the 2020 16th Region Tournament.

Most Points, Varsity Career

Player                          Years      G        Pts      Avg                  High Point Game

Thomas, Marty          1991-94    108      1873     17.3                              54-Jellico

Thomas, Matt            2004-08    154      1833     11.9                          29-Boyd Co.

McDavid, Drew          2003-07    154      1795     11.7                    43-Knott Central

Gregg, Corey             2010-12     91      1636     18.0                       35-in 3 games

Umberger, Kyle         1995-98    100      1518     15.2                         33-Highlands

Cantrell, Chuck          1982-84     87      1501     17.3                           33-Fairview

Delaney, Dylan          2008-11    104      1499     14.4                     34-Ironton, Ohio

Young, Austin            1992-95    106      1480     14.0                      33-Morgan Co.

Conley, Larry             1960-62    103      1473     14.3                           34-Olive Hill

Villers, Christian         2013-16     95      1452     15.3                             47-Russell

Robinson, Devaunte  2016-19    112      1406     12.6                       25-East Carter

Adkins, Earl               1951-53     88      1386     15.8                             36-Ironton

Lynch, Michael          1993-95     99      1348     13.6                       37-Portsmouth

Villers, Chase            2014-18    119      1345     11.3                        41-Mason Co.

Surgalski, Mark          1999-02     92      1308     14.2                       30-in 3 games

Wheeler, Clint            1964-66     89      1297     14.6                                 33-Inez

Lynch, Bob                1966-68     86      1278     14.9                35-Huntington High

Whetsel, Ryan           2009-12    126      1237       9.8                       24-in 2 games

Carroll, George          1954-56     76      1225     16.1                       52-Carr Creek

Bonner, Ryan            2005-09    125      1204       9.6                            21-Iroquois

Withrow, Cody           2009-12    100      1192     11.9                       27-Rowan Co.

Arbaugh, Darrell        1997-99     91      1190     13.1                          31-Boyd Co.

McCauley, Greg        1978-80     91      1046     11.5                      29-Franklin Co.

Lynch, Dale               1970-72     90      1025     11.4                          25-Boyd Co.

*Villers, Cole               2017-21     82      1017     12.4                          32-Highlands

Sargent, Harold         1960-61     71      1015     14.3                            31-Smyrna

Miller, Nick                2012-15     81      1010     12.5                           28-Clay Co.

Eggleston, John         1950-52     69      1008     14.6                           31-Olive Hill

Conley, Joe               1966-68     75      1008     13.4                32-Huntington East

Kleykamp, Ray          1968-69     65      1007     15.5               37-Montgomery Co.

*-Still active.

Ivan and Grady had friendship beyond coaching

(This article was written in April 2010 before Coach Ivan McGlone was inducted into the Dawahares/Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame. We pray for Ivan’s family on his passing).

In the middle of next month, Russell football coach Ivan McGlone will take his place in the Dawahares/Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

It seems fitting that one of those who will take part in the ceremony is Grady Walter, Ivan’s longtime assistant coach who retired from teaching and coaching in 2003.

Ivan and Grady are more than coaching acquaintances. They are friends. Best friends. Like family kind of friends.

The Hall of Fame inductees are given medallions that are placed around the neck and Ivan asked Grady for an assist. There couldn’t be a better choice.

“I said ‘I don’t have to talk, do I?’” Grady asked Ivan before accepting the request.

Ivan assured him he didn’t; he probably hopes he doesn’t have to say anything either.

That’s the Ivan way.

McGlone deserves the recognition, that’s for sure. He’s an icon in northeastern Kentucky for the amazing job he’s done since coming to Russell in 1976.

Some thought he wasn’t going to be there long, figuring him to be an “interim coach” until somebody more suitable arrived. But he’s the longest interim coach you’ll find anywhere, having coached the Red Devils for the past 36 seasons.

Nobody stays around that long unless they a) know how to win; b) know how to use assistants; c) don’t make enemies.

Walter said he’s not surprised his good buddy is still coaching.

“It’s part of his persona,” he said. “He loves coaching football and being around the kids.”

Ivan and Grady have been around for each other’s triumphs and tragedies, in football and life. They’ve laughed together and they’ve cried together.

And they sure did win a lot of games together.

Grady Walter was the first assistant coach to sign on with McGlone in ‘74.

“He interviewed me for the job and I was in limbo,” Grady remembered. “Sue (his wife) had some surgical problems over the summer and I told him I had to take care of her first.”

Turned out, Sue did fine, so Grady accepted the position. The two became fast friends, as did their families. It was as if they each had two families.

Grady looks back on his time with Ivan fondly. That included the 1978 state championship season. He retired two years prior to the Red Devils winning it again in 2005 and finishing runner-up in 2006.

But it includes every other season, too. The easygoing McGlone is someone you want to be around.

“He’s not changed one bit,” Grady said. “Everybody likes him. He doesn’t make (coaching) enemies because he never runs the score up. He’s an open book if you want to trade films.”

When Grady was coaching, he lived in Ashland so his boys attended school in Ashland. Dwight, his youngest son, was a member of the Tomcats’ 1990 state championship football team.

The friendly family feud was nothing for Grady, who was one of four siblings who went to Catlettsburg while three others went to Ashland schools. Two of his brothers, Dick and Jack, actually played against each other.

Grady Walter said his experience with Dwight was always a good one.

“We always had Thursday night meal together,” he said. “Sue wanted us home. His senior year, when they were playing Greenup County, I remember him saying to me ‘We’ll beat them 40 points.’ I told him you better watch saying things like that.’’

It turned out the Musketeers stunned the Tomcats in Putnam Stadium, handing the ‘90 team their only loss that season.

But overall, it was a season to remember for the Tomcats and Dwight Walter was going to be part of it.

Ivan “fired” Grady as the coach on Fridays that season, telling him “to scout Ashland.” He didn’t want his friend to miss his son’s senior season.

“He told me to coach through the week and scout Ashland on Friday nights,” Grady said.

But a tragic accident took the life of Russell assistant Jim Tardy in September. That sent the Red Devil family reeling and Grady returned to the sideline for the rest of the season. Tardy was like a son to McGlone and close to everybody on the staff. It was a difficult time.

“He was the first real assistant to come in 1977,” Grady recalled. “The three of us hit it off real good. Tardy coached the guards and centers, I coached the backs and Ivan walked around.”

Grady chuckles at himself. “Don’t tell me I said that.”

In the last game of the regular season, Ashland and Russell played on Senior Night in Putnam Stadium. Grady, decked out in Russell coaching attire, went over to be with his son and wife prior to pregame ceremonies for the seniors.

“Somebody from the stands yelled ‘Who’s that SOB in the Russell jacket?’ I was so mad, I couldn’t hardly see straight,” he said.

Ashland won easily, ending a difficult season for the Red Devils.

But Grady was able to watch his son’s senior year of playoff games that eventually resulted in a state championship.

Bittersweet would be how he would best describe 1990.

“Ivan supported Dwight while Sue and Gloria (Ivan’s wife) are great friends,” Grady said. “Our families are real close. We’re real close.”

You get close from coaching together for 29 years. You’re often in the same foxhole, riding the same buses, dealing with the same player or parent issues.

Most relationships, coaching or otherwise, don’t last nearly that long. That’s why it seems fitting to me that Grady Walter play a part in Ivan McGlone’s statewide honor next month.

After all, few have been teammates longer.

Coach Ivan McGlone: Friday night hero

(This was written in 2010 before Ivan McGlone’s entry into the Dawahares/Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame. It chronicles the career of a terrific high school football coach).

When Ivan McGlone took the head coaching football job at Russell High School in 1976, he told his wife they weren’t going to move from their home in West Virginia just yet.

“I had just bought a house in December ’75,” he said. “I said ‘Gloria, we could move down there but you never know…’’’

You sure don’t.

Thirty-four years and two state championships later, the McGlones live in that same house in West Virginia.

But there’s no firmer a foundation than the one he’s built at Russell High School.

On Saturday, the 72-year-old McGlone will enter the Dawahares/Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

Four words come to mind: It is about time.

The architect of Russell’s football success has coached generations of fathers and sons in making the Red Devils a household name in Kentucky.

Who knew when he hired on as a 38-year-old head coach in 1976 that such success would follow?

“I’ve been there almost half my life,” he said. “When I first started, if you stay in coaching 10 years, you’re kind of lucky. I lot of people have got in and got out. You never think in terms of 25, 30, almost 40 years.”

Few coaches do last that long and for a number of reasons, including a fickle fan base, mental and physical fatigue and overall health. Sometimes family comes into play, like it did for Herb Conley at Ashland. He successfully coached the Tomcats from 1968 to 1976 before giving it up to help rear his three sons.

The sacrifices that high school football coaches make are many. They spend hours watching film – either in their office at school or at home – long after the players have gone home from practice, usually long after most of us have gone to bed. It can become overwhelming and many coaches step away from the game for just that reason.

But there are some, like Ivan McGlone, who will only stop coaching when they stop breathing. It’s what makes them go, what makes them who they are in life.

There are a handful of coaches who have coached as long as McGlone but most of them haven’t stayed in the same place. Bell County’s Dudley Hilton was at Breathitt County when McGlone came to Russell. Belfry’s Phil Haywood was at Prestonsburg and Bob Schneider, the longtime Newport Catholic coach, was on the sidelines what seems like ions before finally retiring.

Coach McGlone with the 2005 championship trophy.

Of course, right across the river, Bob Lutz has been a staple at Ironton High School since 1972.

“He got out for a couple of years and rested,” McGlone said. “He got rejuvenated.”

Lutz actually has missed only one year since he began coaching in 1969. He is Ohio’s winningest high school coach with 361 victories in 40 years of coaching.

McGlone has won 317 games, including 289 at Russell from 1976 to 2009. Henry R. Evans Stadium is The House that Ivan Built.

How it started

McGlone had just finished his fifth season at Vinson High School when he learned of the opening at Russell in the summer of 1976. He had been an assistant at Vinson four years prior and served one year as a graduate assistant at Ceredo-Kenova.

“But I started getting paid for coaching in ’67,” he said. “I was student teaching in ’66 (at C-K).”

McGlone was at his 20th high school reunion when he found out that Charlie Sammons wasn’t returning as Russell’s head coach. “Charlie Sammons had married a girl from C-K. Donna and Charlie were there at the reunion. We walked down to the lobby and Wayne High School was having a 10-year reunion. Some kid was there from Russell with a girl from Wayne. He said to Charlie ‘I understand you’re giving up that job at Russell.’ I said ‘Charlie, are you quitting?’ He said ‘You ought to see about it.’ I may not have even realized it was open. He said ‘You should go down and apply.’’’

McGlone wasn’t sure, especially considering Vinson was coming off a good season and a lot returned. “I said ‘I’ll think about it.’’’

His Kentucky football knowledge was mostly limited to Ashland, Boyd County and Catlettsburg. The Tom Scott era was just finishing up at Boyd County and the Tomcats had been a powerhouse under Conley. Catlettsburg had consolidated with Boyd County in 1973 but McGlone was familiar with many of the past Wildcat coaches, some with C-K ties.

McGlone marveled at how Boyd County’s super Rob Chaney-Terry Keelin teams handled the West Virginia schools during the early 1970s. “The one thing I always remember is they beat Huntington High a couple of times during that period,” he said.

McGlone knew Boyd County and Ashland would be some of the best competition the Red Devils faced. He was right. Even today the Russell-Ashland rivalry rates as the best in northeastern Kentucky.

Closer than brothers

McGlone inquired about the Russell job later that summer. Logan Perry was the superintendent and former coach Lafe Walter the athletic director.

“Lafe, I found out later, had relatives who lived in Westmoreland (in West Virginia),” McGlone said. “He got to investigate me.”

What Walter found out was that McGlone was the man for the Red Devils. He was hired on July 26, 1976. Grady Walter would later become McGlone’s first assistant coach – and a lifelong friend. He was also one of the best history teachers ever hired into Russell’s school system.

McGlone, Walter and Jim Epling, who coached the freshmen, made up the early Red Devil coaching staff that first season.

When Grady retired seven years ago, his longtime buddy did everything he could to talk him out of it. “I hated it,” McGlone said. “But he felt like it was time to do it and he did.

“I got along with him probably better than anybody I’ve ever got along with. We were there a long time together.”

Even beyond football – what little time there was beyond football – the families become close, too. Their wives, Sue and Gloria, grew close. The families would go on vacations together and Grady and Ivan became closer than brothers. It’s a relationship that both men still relish today.

The Wing-T

McGlone’s first Russell team went only 4-7 in 1976 but the foundation was being laid for a great finish to that decade. He brought the Wing-T offense with him from Wayne County. It wasn’t exactly fast-break football but it would become the staple of Red Devil football for four decades. Fans have grumbled for about as long about an offense that’s considered conservative.

“I haven’t convinced everybody it’s any good yet,” he said. “To be perfectly honest, I know they don’t like it. (But) It’s what I know.”

Then, in the kind of wit that has followed McGlone as long as the Wing-T, he said: “I’ve been working on the spread offense for 10 years but nobody knows it.”

McGlone said when he came to Russell most everybody was running tight formations, either an I-formation, a T-formation or the veer, which was considered the wide-open offense of the day. Ashland ran the wishbone under Conley starting with the last game in the 1970 season, with the option becoming a dangerous weapon on the football field.

“It wasn’t so difficult to convince them, at that particular time, that it would work,” McGlone said of introducing the Wing-T. “People don’t believe this but, in the first two years, into the second year, probably the second or third game, was when we actually first ran a play outside by just pitching it.”

Times have changed and even McGlone’s Wing-T will have motion, a split end and a planned sweep.

“Sweeps are what we rely on anymore,” he said. “But if we need something, it’s going to be with the Wing-T. For the most part, it’s hard to go from getting 280 yards a game to start changing things.”

But when necessary, change has been made.

Like in the 2005 state championship, when Kasey Clark lined up in an I-formation and sprang for 190 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries in a 27-14 victory over Owensboro Catholic.

“I’ve always said this: Kasey was more of an I-(formation) back,” he said. “It was kind of strange in that game. We’d go into the I-formation for Kasey and the Wing-T for the bootleg run.”

Russell’s ’98 team relied on the passing of Tyler Wyatt and receiving and big-play capability of Eric Day. “Eric could score from anywhere,” McGlone said.

But mostly, throughout the years, it’s been the Wing-T offense and a hard-hitting, ball-hawking defense that were Russell’s calling cards.

Using his assistants

The key to the Wing-T offense is the play of the offensive guards and McGlone has coached them up for 34 years. He’s had some good ones, too, including some of the better athletes on the team. In a lot of places, some of those players would have been in the backfield. That’s how importants athletic guards are to the Wing-T.

“I’ll take a good athlete anytime I can get one,” he said.

He’s also been blessed to have capable assistant coaches who have stood with him for years. Men like Tracy Edwards, who played for him, and Russell alum Mike Jones, who retired after last season. Walter was with him from the start. Edwards is now the longest tenured assistant. Jeff Smith, another former player, has stuck around. Buford Hurley is another longtime assistant. Other coaches, like highly regarded defensive coordinator Garry Morris, have followed McGlone’s blueprints for success.

Former players Nathan McPeek, Garry McPeek and T.J. Maynard used variations of the Wing-T during their head coaching stopovers.

“They run their version of it,” McGlone said. “T.J. used a wide open or spread version. There are a lot of variations.”

Assistant coaches have always been important and used well in McGlone’s coaching system. They are involved in the substitution routines, in playcalling and in game preparation. “Coaches have to have an important part of it,” he said.

But when the big decisions come down, they look to the Big Guy for the call. Always.

A difficult season

One of McGlone’s most trying seasons came in 1990 when the Red Devils went only 2-9 and missed the playoffs.

But it wasn’t just what happened on the field that made it so miserable.

Jim Tardy, who played for McGlone at Vinson and was hired as an assistant coach in 1977, was killed in a tragic accident the day after the Red Devils defeated Boyd County for their first win.

“You don’t expect that to happen,” he said. “You see that happening all of the time but it’s never to you. It came out of the clear blue.”

Truth be told, Tardy was like a son to McGlone. He was a pulling guard for him at Vinson and a bright young coaching star. Players related to him, fellow assistants respected him, everybody liked him.

McGlone asked Perry about hiring Tardy as an assistant and got the OK from the superintendent with one catch. “Mr. Perry said ‘We’ll hire him but he has to know if he quits football, he doesn’t have a job.’ It was only a part-time job. He (Perry) came to practice one day and said he needed to talk to Jim about a fulltime job. You could do those things back then.”

McGlone said one of his lasting images of Tardy was seeing him walking down the hill at Boyd County after the win in that ’90 season. “I still have a vivid memory of that. We won that game and won the next one. But it was difficult to push through the rest of the season to be perfectly honest.”

The great teams

McGlone won the Class AAA state championship in 1978 during his third season at Russell. The Red Devils defeated Woodford County 17-7 in Richmond.

Little did he know that it would be 27 more years before he’d get the chance to repeat that feat. “A lot of times you don’t get that second chance,” he said. “But it doesn’t get old. If we ever win another one, it won’t be old.”

Some of Russell’s best teams were the early ones, like the years that sandwiched that first title. The 1977 team had its season end against Fort Thomas Highlands in the semifinals. The ’79 team lost the season opener to Belfry, a district foe, and then finished as strong as any team in the McGlone era but missed out on the playoffs. Back then, only the district champion advanced.

Russell’s ’94 team, led by Jeff Frasure, was undefeated at 12-0 before losing to Whitesburg. The ’04 team, powered by exciting Josh Gross, fell to Belfry in the state semifinals after a fabulous season. The list goes on and on.

Ten teams have made it to the semifinals and the ’06 team returned to the state finals only to lose a heartbreaker to Mercer County, 15-12, in Louisville to deny the Red Devils from winning back-to-back crowns.

McGlone has coached fathers and their sons. He says that when he starts coaching grandsons, it might be time to get out of it.

If anything would make him hang up the whistle for good, it would be to care for his wife Gloria.

Over the past several years, she has been dealing with breast cancer. Gloria still has her ups and downs although if there’s anyone tougher than Ivan, it’s his wife. She is always there for him in the stands after games, cheering on the Red Devils and her husband. He glances up at her after the wins and after the losses. When their eyes meet, it’s still like fireworks going off.

Meanwhile, another love story continues to play out in Russell, one that has lasted 34 years. It’s the one between a community, a school and its soon-to-be Hall of Fame football coach.

Looking for a Love Story?

There are some great ones out there:

Romeo and Juliet.

Edward and Bella.

Ivan and Gloria.

Yep, you read that right. Ivan and Gloria.

There’s probably only one thing Ivan McGlone loved more than Russell High School football and that was his wife and soul-mate Gloria. She lost her hard-fought battle with breast cancer on Saturday morning. Few were more courageous.

Ivan McGlone is Russell’s 73-year-old high school coaching legend. He has guided the program to a pair of state championships since taking over in 1976. He is beloved in the community, somebody fathers and sons and even grandsons relate to because generations have played for him.

Guess who has been there every step of the way?

Gloria McGlone.

Even though breast cancer took a lot out of Gloria in the last few years, her will to be there for Ivan kept her going longer than may thought possible. She has always been there for him. He made eye contact with her from the stands after the wins and after the losses. And, when their eyes met, it was kismet. They did so with the passion that comes to couples who have endured the good times and the bad, couples who understand what love really means.

You want a snapshot of love? Take any chapter from the Book of McGlone.

They have dealt with great tragedies and great triumphs and they dealt with it faithfully together. They have cried together, laughed together and shared a life together.

They were kindred spirits whose love for each other was so transparent that anybody who was ever around them could almost reach out and touch it. It was that deep-down love, the kind we all hope to find sometime in our lives.

Despite her bouts with cancer, when she didn’t feel like doing much of anything, she pushed herself to make it to Russell football games. Gloria would sit in the stands with Grady and Sue Walter, dear friends of the McGlones since Ivan came to Russell. Grady was his right-hand man on the coaching staff for years and the families drew close because of it. They count each other as family.

Gloria McGlone made it to all but three games in her husband’s long coaching career, an amazing achievement given her health situation over the past few years. But she enjoyed it as much as Ivan, who gained his 300th Russell victory last season, and wouldn’t have missed one second of it.

She went to Hawaii once when he was coaching at Vinson. She went to a nephew’s marriage in Florida another time and three years ago the McGlone’s daughter talked Gloria into staying home because of health issues.

“She said it was the most miserable Friday night she could ever remember,” Ivan said.

So she didn’t miss another one, even though her health was declining.

Gloria did it for the love of her life. She did it for Ivan.

She never wanted him looking up into the stands and not see her there supporting him. She was there for better or worse, after the biggest wins (which they were many) and the toughest losses (which have been few), supporting him every first down of the journey.

He celebrated with her every step of his Hall of Fame career.

I remember watching Ivan after Russell defeated Owensboro Catholic for the state title in 2005. His first move wasn’t to raise his hands in jubilation. His first move was to lock eyes with Gloria. Then he practically ran – at least as much as Ivan could run – toward the stands. Their embrace should have included fireworks going off overhead. They did for all practical purposes.

His victory was her victory.

That’s how love stories are.

The days, weeks, months and seasons ahead will be tough for Ivan McGlone. But the memories of Gloria will always make him smile, make him remember what love felt like. She’s still there with him, if only in spirit, looking out over the Red Devils.

Always, forever and ever.

After all, real love stories never end.