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By Tom Bystrek
When the name “Alumni Bowl” first surfaced, local players of years past no doubt thought they would get a chance to don some pads and helmets and revisit their days on the gridiron. But this Alumni Bowl, to kick off Aug. 24, is not for the former Commanders, but instead a doubleheader at which Washington County will host three visiting high school teams.
The inaugural Alumni Bowl, sponsored by Don Franklin Auto, will pit Marion County against Lloyd Memorial at 5:30 p.m.. Washington County will play LaRue County in the second game starting 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
Even though the Alumni Bowl will not get the “old guys” back on the field, it will still allow them the relive their glory days as the event has grown from the two football games to a two-day event. The activities begin Friday, Aug. 23 with a dinner at Mordecai’s Restaurant, which will welcome back many former coaches and players.
John Haydon, president of the Washington County Football Boosters, explained how the idea of the Alumni Bowl emerged.
“The games were already in place, and we developed the idea of making it the Alumni Bowl to showcase some of the history of Washington County football,” he said.
Haydon was quick to add that he has received plenty of help in organizing the weekend format.
“Members of the board of the football boosters, Taylora Schlosser, Tina Sagrecy, John Graves, Steve Wheatley and Lupe Floyd have all been a big part of it,” said Haydon. “In addition to Don Franklin, we have also received financial support from the Springfield Tourism Commission.”
Haydon and the football boosters are hoping that such support is matched with equal support from past players and coaches. Already there are three coaches committed to give remarks at the Friday dinner, and Haydon is hoping for more to be in attendance.
“Throughout the years Washington County has always been competitive in football,” added Haydon. “It will be fun to hear these coaches talk about that history.”
That history includes a total of 47 years of football since the Commanders first took the field under Charles Kolasa in 1966. A total of 11 different head coaches have roamed the Commander sidelines in those 47 years. While that might seem like a limited tenure for each coach (an average of 4.3 years a coach), the numbers belie the fact that the coaching position has been a very stable one over the last 35 years.
In those 35 years Wash-ington County has employ-ed just five head coaches. Jimmie Reed began that stability with a head coaching career of 17 years. Lee Glass-cock followed as head coach for six years after serving as a Commander assistant for 21 years. Timmy Mattingly served three years as head coach, Mark Perry was the head man for seven years and current coach Eric Sagrecy has two years under his belt.
Some of the most recent coaches are the ones who have already signed on for the Alumni Bowl dinner. Reed and Glasscock will offer remarks and memories and, of course, Sagrecy will be in attendance as the current Commander mentor.
“I think it is a great idea,” said Reed, who compiled a 113-78 record in 17 years. “It is always fun to get to see guys come back to find out what has been going on in their lives since leaving high school. We had some really good kids and some good coaching staffs. We didn’t always have great years in term of wins and losses, but we were always competitive.”
Competitive is a word that could definitely describe the entire history of Commander football. The overall record for the program is 274-235-3, which computes to a winning percentage of .538. That winning record came against schedules that have usually included perennial powerhouse teams like Danville and Bardstown in the same district and, most often, class AAA or AAAA teams outside the district.
As current head coach, and former player, Eric Sagrecy appreciates the history of Washington County football.
“Guys like Coach Reed and Coach Glasscock established such a good tradition. We want our program to link back to that tradition. It will be good to have guys back around for the weekend, and it is a good thing for the entire community.”
NEXT WEEK: More on the history of Washington County football and the players and coaches who have made it a success.