Special to The Greenup Beacon
Russell High School officials are proud and excited to announce the second Athletic Hall of Fame Class.
With over 90 years of athletic competition, the Red Devil nation has been represented by many outstanding athletes, coaches, and teams.
The second class will be honored during a program on Friday, Sept 2.
The program will begin at 5 p.m. in the Russell High School gymnasium and conclude by 6 p.m.
The gymnasium will open at 4:30 for the program and the public is invited.
A reception will be held in the gymnasium immediately following the program.
The ceremony will precede the first home football game with Ironton, and the honorees will also be introduced at the football stadium prior to the beginning of the game (approximately 7:10 p.m.).
The 1951 RHS Undefeated Football Team was coached by Fred Johnson, the team earned the North Eastern Kentucky Conference Championship and captured the Greenup County Trophy. With a record of 8-0, the team outscored opponents 306-41 and were led by Captains Joe May and Sam Hoffman.
The first three games that season were played at home at the Sportsman’s Field.
The Maroons, as they were known then, had the toughest battles with Catlettsburg and Raceland.
Many former players fondly remember Coach Johnson, a former Marine, for his conditioning training and his leadership, characteristics they modeled in their years of service to the community and nation after graduation..
Coach Alice Leigh, served RHS as track and cross country coach from 1980 to 2008. During those 28 years the girls’ track team was regional champion for 12 consecutive years and state champions in 1994, 1997, and 1999.
The girls’ cross country team was also regional champion for 8 consecutive years. Under her watch, many qualified for state meets and 45 were crowned individual champions.
With these impressive achievements, Coach Leigh was honored as the Kentucky Girls 2A Coach of the Year in 1993 and inducted into the Kentucky Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame that same year.
Bob Bennett, 1950-53, excelled in four sports while representing RHS. Bob was All-conference in football and basketball in 1952-53 and was team captain in both sports. He pursued his football career at the University of Kentucky and played for legendary coaches Bear Bryant and Blanton Collier.
Nathan Brown, 1985-1989, shattered the ceiling for track athletes as he won the maximum of 4 events at the 1989 state track championships. The previous year he won two events, giving him 6 state titles in his career. This was the first time this had been accomplished and he was named Male Athlete of the Year in 1988 and 1989. This gifted athlete had his jersey retired in a 1989 ceremony.
Doug Fultz, 1976-1980, still holds the school records for the 5K cross country, 1600 meter, and 3200 meter track events. In 1979, Doug was the KHSAA state champion in cross country and in the 800 meter track event. The next year, he set the state record for the indoor mile at the Mason-Dixon Games and was the 1600 meter state champion.
Dr. Joe May, 1948-1952, was a co-captain of the 1951 football team and earned 2nd team All-State honors in 1951. He was also 1st team All Greenup County in 1948. Joe continued playing football at the University of Virginia and followed that with an outstanding career in medicine.
Larry McKenzie, 1953-1958, earned a total of 17 varsity letters in four sports at RHS. As an All-State Football player, Larry held records for the most yards rushing in a single game (282) and longest TD from scrimmage (98yds). In college, he was a starting player for Kent State and EKU. Larry was co-captain of the 1957 basketball team that was regional runner-up with a record 0f 28-5. He set the NEKC record in the long jump and pro baseball teams scouted Larry, but football was his college choice. After college, Larry served as basketball coach for Marshall University and Mississippi State.
Jessica Southers, 1996-2000, earned 9 individual state titles, 11 regional individual titles, and 4 regional relay titles as an outstanding track and cross-country runner. State championships in cross country came in 1995, 1996, and 1998. A distance specialist, she helped the RHS track team to state titles in ‘97 and ‘99. Her achievements earned her All-State, All-Region, and twice Class 2A KY State Runner of the Year. She was named Area Athlete of the Year and KY Senior Athlete of the Year for girls track. As a college runner, she finished 2nd in her first meet at Tennessee. Jessica was also honored as the RHS Outstanding Senior in 2000.
More information about the Russell High School Athletic Hall of Fame can be found on the Russell Independent Schools web site www.russellind.kyschools.us and following the “Athletics” tab on the left hand side of the page. The nomination form is available on this site.