May 4, 16, 12:37 PM #2Great read, @ChiefSmoke. The Russell/Flatwoods community has a tremendous respect for you and the program you built in Maysville.
At some point in the early 00's, the Mason Co. game became the most important game on Russell's schedule year in and year out, as the outcome often decided the district. The Royals definitely had Russell's full attention. I want to say that Mason's first ever win over Russell came in 2001(first win at Russell in '08).
The rivalry was never better than it was in 2002. Both teams were great that year. The Royals began that season with a win over '01 3A Runner-up Rockcastle Co. The sound of that gauntlet being thrown down travelled all the way from Danville to Flatwoods. Mason Co. walked into Henry R. Evans Stadium on September 20th as a pretty sizable favorite, at least in my eyes. My memory is a little foggy, but if I recall correctly(feel free to correct me, Chief), both defenses played lights out and neither offense could get much going. Mason led 7-6 late in the 4th quarter and had Russell backed up deep in their own territory before Red Devil great Josh Gross broke free for a long(80-ish) yard touchdown to set the final score at 12-7. Russell went on to win the district, but the Royals weren't done with the Red Devils yet. The two teams met again in the regional championship game on November 22nd(a link to that game can be found below). The weather was so bad that week that the field at Russell was virtually unplayable. The Ashland Tomcats were kind enough to allow the game to be played at grand, old Putnam Stadium. The rematch was much like the first game: great, hard hitting defense, spinning tires on offense. Russell prevailed again by the odd score of 11-8, winning it's first regional championship since 1984.
The following season, Mason Co. moved up to 3A and the rivalry was put on hold until 2007. After a four year hiatus, the two schools picked up right where the left off, deciding both the district and regional championships that season as well. After that, Coach Buchanan and the Royals started to get the upper hand on Russell. But I've rambled on enough, so we won't get into that .
A Mercer Co./Russell game at Russell would surely pack the house. The Red Devils owe the Titans one from back in '06.
As for the video below, at about the 20:45 mark, the great Dustin Grutza to Chris Lofton combination strikes to give Mason a lead. At the 39:00 mark, Russell's Josh Gross brakes some poor young man's ankles on his way to pay dirt. A couple of great memories from a great rivalry. 2002 Region Championship - YouTube
May 4, 16, 12:55 PM #3
Red Devil match ups with Ivan and Garry on the other sideline were some of the best memories/experiences for me in a lifetime. What an opportunity and experience to compete with great coaches and a program like Russell has. Most of the time it was a GREAT game.
I am different than most people. I respect my rivals that are good programs & people. I don't hate them. Flatwoods is a great place.
I would add, the perfect guy to continue the legacy is TJ Maynard. An old Red Devil and great person/coach.
Hopefully the Titans & Devils can meet in Flatwoods one night. Regardless, I am sure I will find my way back there eventually. I may be a little old man, but I will get there. Too many great memories.
May 4, 16, 02:37 PM #4
Coach Morris was/is a great football coach. I think '97 might have been his first year as an assistant at Russell. Coach McGlone deservedly got credit for all the wins and championships, but I don't think Russell reaches the heights that they did in the 2000's without Coach Morris leading the defense. From '02-'07, he was as good a defensive coordinator as any in the state.
I'm sure you know this as well as anybody, but behind every great head coach is a great staff. Coach McGlone was fortunate to have Coach Morris(among many others) on his staff and Coach Maynard is fortunate to have inherited him.
You're a class act, Coach Buchanan. Knowledgeable football fans(of which there are many in Flatwoods and Maysville) recognize and appreciate a classy program that does things the right way, even if they're rivals. I'm sure I can speak for all of Flatwoods when I say, you're welcome here anytime.
May 4, 16, 06:23 PM #5
I was on the 97 team that beat Russell, however I took a few beat downs from them as well! There is no better coach then Coach Buchanan, he was always nostalgic and aggressive at the same time. Thankful to have learned so many great things from him as a young out of control teenager!
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May 4, 16, 06:57 PM #6
Great read and article. Being from the area I appreciate seeing articles like that. One thing that I was confused about though was the references to Flatwoods, then after thinking about it, Russell High School is in fact Flatwoods, Ky rather than Russell, Ky. There are so many small towns in this area its hard to keep up with the borders since they all run together. Anyway, excellent article.
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May 5, 16, 06:31 AM #7
I'm just hoping that Mason County can get back to being competitive with the Red Devils. Sure seems different without Coach Buchanan on the sidelines. Coach Thomas has learned from one of the best so lets see what he and the team gets done this year. Hopefully that old injury bug stays away.
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