Commonwealth Journal

Local Sports

May 16, 2014

Football Freeze Out

Somerset will no longer play against local county schools starting in 2015

Somerset — For over 10 years, the three local high school football teams have battled in the same venues in a football extravaganza to open each fall gridiron season.

But in 2015, all that may change.

Since 2003, the two county schools, Pulaski Count High School and Southwestern High School High School, have taken part in the Ray Correll Bowl – hosted by Somerset High School and played at the Briar Jumpers’ William Clark Field.

Last season, for the first time, Somerset played in the county schools’ newly-formed Don Marshall Bowl. Somerset signed a two-year agreement to play in the Don Marshall Bowl, and agreed to play at each county school’s home football field.

But in a Athletic Director’s Meeting in Stanford on Wednesday, Somerset athletic director Bob Tucker informed the county school athletic directors that Somerset would not renew their two-year contract to play in the Don Marshall Bowl.

Last season, Somerset played Southwestern at the Reservation in the fifth annual Don Marshall Bowl, which marked the first time the Jumpers had played on  Southwestern’s home turf since 2001.

Somerset will travel across the Cumberland Parkway this upcoming fall, in the sixth annual Don Marshall Bowl, to play at Pulaski County High School for the first time – and maybe the last time – since 2002.

In retaliation to Somerset’s decision to not play in the county’s Don Marshall Bowl, the county schools will not renew their contracts to play in Somerset’s Ray Correll Bowl – as of 2015.

“If Somerset does not play in our bowl, then we will not continue to play in their bowl,” Pulaski County High School athletic director Brian Miller said. “We have always had a good relationship with the Somerset Schools and Bob Tucker, and I hate to see it come to this.”

Likewise, Southwestern High School athletic director Scott Gregory said that the Warriors would not be participating in the 2015 Ray Correll Bowl if Somerset was not going to play in the Don Marshall Bowl.

“All three of the schools’ athletic directors are good friends and we have always worked together  for what was best for the kids and the community,” Gregory said. “I just hate that it has come to this because it has been great having all three schools playing on the same field.”

Not only will the two bowls feel the void of the other local school’s absence, but the two bowls may be competing against each other on the same day.

The Ray Correll Bowl has traditionally been scheduled on the first week of the high school football season – known as Week 0 on the KHSAA football scheduling grid.

However, since the county schools will no longer be participating in the Ray Correll Bowl on Week 0, then they have decided to move their Don Marshall Bowl on Week 0 as well.

“Scheduling the Don Marshall Bowl on the first week of the season makes the most sense for us in terms of attendance and scheduling of other teams,” Gregory stated.

In the first week of the season, the fans have always come out in droves to get their first taste of the high school football atmosphere. Also, the late August days are filled with warm sunny weather, which helps in drawing fans to the games.

Kentucky high school football teams have the option of scrimmaging or playing a regulation game, which is usually a bowl game, during Week 0. Therefore, teams that have traditionally chose to play scrimmage games on Week O, could be available to play in bowls scheduled at that time.

Obviously, money made by the schools in the two bowl games was substantial compared to regular season games. But the two school systems have varying opinions on which bowl will earn the most revenue for each of the three schools.

“Not getting into the exact dollar amount, last season the Ray Correll Bowl brought in twice as much revenue for the three schools than the Don Marshall Bowl,” Tucker stated.

However, the county schools felt like there were other factors that skewed those numbers in last season’s two bowl games.

“Corbin was the fourth team in the Ray Correll Bowl last season,” Miller stated. “Corbin is close by and they have a strong fan base.”

“In the Don Marshall Bowl, North Hardin was th fourth team and they did not bring near as many fans,” Miller added. “I think that, alone, was the difference between the revenue of the two bowls.”

“Going forward, we plan to schedule teams for the Don Marshall Bowl that are located closer to us and that have a strong fan base,” Miller concluded.

Ward Correll, who has financially backed the Ray Correll Bowl for the past 10 years, promoted the annual gridiron event in memory of his Kentucky All-American brother Ray Correll, and to help support the local kids of the community.

“This is the first I have heard about this and I don’t really understand why this is happening,” Correll said Friday evening. “The Ray Correll Bowl is all about the kids. I don’t care what the schools decide to do, or not do, I am going to support the kids. It is not about us, it is about the kids.”

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