Local connections to top regional football teams

Cleanin’ out the sports notebook

Kyle’s Korner ….

There are some local ties to teams in the state championship football games this week in both Kentucky and West Virginia.

Of course Belfry is a fixture in the state title game in the Bluegrass State. They are hoping for a 3-peat this weekend as they take on Lexington Catholic in the Class 3A championship. However, two other regional teams playing for the big trophy also have local connections.

Chris McNamee, head coach at Pikeville, is the brother of Tim McNamee, who is the manager of Hurley Home Health in Williamson. The McNamee brothers were standout athletes in their own right. The Pikeville Panthers will be playing for the Class A state championship on Thursday night in Bowling Green.

Johnson Central will be playing in their first-ever Class 4A state championship. They are coached by former Belfry High School standout and hall of famer Jim Matney.

Matney previously coached at Sheldon Clark in nearby Inez, Ky. for several years.

The Tolsia Rebels will be trying for the Class 2A state championship in West Virginia this weekend. They are coached by Mike Smith, who is a graduate of the old Kermit High School. Big Mike was known for basketball during his high school days and played hoops at Alice Lloyd College. He previously coached basketball at Gilbert and at Tolsia. He won a state basketball title for the Rebels.

Over the years he got into coaching football too. He had been an assistant at Gilbert and head coach at Tug Valley and Pike Central.

Smith has built the Rebel program back to respectability and will now lead them to Wheeling for a chance at the Class 2A title.

… Tolsia is a consolidation of the old Crum and Fort Gay High Schools. Crum was a Class A power back in the early to mid-1960s. The Mountaineers won a state title back in 1965. Those students are now a par to the Tolsia program.

.. Good luck to all of those coaches and teams as they take their respective teams into those championship games this weekend.

… There are rumors of at least one head coaching change in high school football in the area. Keep reading for the latest on this.

Shane Griffith of Scott High School has already resigned from that position. So there will be at least one new head coach in the Cardinal Conference. Griffith had a lot of success coaching the Skyhawks program. I’ve heard former local coach and Matewan/Marshall standout Melvin Cunningham is a candidate for that Boone County job. He coached at Fairland, Ohio this season.

… Although football is still the talk of many schools, high school basketball teams have already hit the hardwood for pre-season practices. In fact, the girls’ teams will start regular season play in the coming days.

The boys’ teams will begin a week later.

I’m looking forward to the season opener for the Mingo Central Miners under new Coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson. They will take on the Logan Wildcats Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the Williamson Fieldhouse. The Wildcats are now coached by former Williamson Wolfpack head mentor Allan Hatcher. It will be the return for both Hatcher and Thompson to the historic venue. Thompson served as an assistant to Curt Fletcher when the Wolfpack won their last state title, a Class A crown back in 2001. Hatcher led the Pack to the AA title back in 1983.

… It appears Montrell Dixson has left Pike County Central and moved back to Chicago. Dixson, who played at Mingo Central last year, had reportedly tried to enroll at Chapmanville to play for his former Miner’s coach Brad Napier.

Then he moved to Pike County Central, Ky. high school and was reportedly going to play for the Hawks. Now, according to a Facebook post, Dixson has moved back to Chicago. That is where the family originated from. His cousin Dikembe is playing college basketball back in the Windy City.

… Cameron Justice, the son of former Belfry hoops coach Raymond Justice, is already getting significant playing time as a true freshman at Vanderbilt. I caught some of the Vandy game showing the former Mr. Basketball of Kentucky on ESPN this past weekend. Justice played at East Ridge, before transferring to Knott County. He will be playing against UK later this year.

… I’ve always said there is way too many bowl games for college football now. It appears that there may be teams with a losing record of 5-7 to get a bowl berth this season. There are so many bowls – but not enough schools with winning records.

Go figure.

(Kyle Lovern is the Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern)

Cleanin’ out the sports notebook
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