It's been a whirlwind pre-season for new Danville football coach Clay Clevenger.
He missed the first two days of workouts to be with his wife, Kate, when she gave birth to their second son, Bo, on July 10. (Bo's brother Rush is 2 years old.) "That just added to the madness," Clevenger said with a laugh.
The past five weeks have been a blur for Clevenger, who's not only getting his players in shape and teaching them a new system, he's still getting comfortable with being in charge of his beloved Admirals.
Clevenger was an all-state lineman for Sam Harp on Danville's state title teams in 1992 and 1994. He played college ball at Carson-Newman, then was an assistant at Lincoln County and the University of the Cumberlands. His first head coaching job was at Henderson County, where he went 45-27 in six seasons. Clevenger was happy in Henderson, but when Harp announced last December he was leaving the Admirals after 25 years (and seven state titles) for a job in Tennessee, Clevenger heard the siren song of his hometown. It was as much about family as football. Clevenger's parents and in-laws live in Danville, where they can now regularly dote on their grandsons.
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Clevenger said his Admirals will be "a work in progress. We've got some good athletes, and we've got a chance to be a pretty good football team. That being said, there's a learning curve we have to get through, and that'll take time."
Clevenger has maintained a relationship with Harp over the years, and he sought out his former coach's help a lot when he first got to Henderson County. After Clevenger was hired at Danville, he walked into Harp's old office, but he couldn't bring himself to sit in his former coach's chair. "I decided to move my office into another room. I wanted to get a new start, and create my own identity with the program."
Clevenger's devotion to Danville runs deep, but he doesn't want it to affect his coaching. "You've got to remember these kids are still only 16 or 17, and they might not take it quite as seriously as you do. You don't want to get to the point where you drive them too hard and drive them away. You want them to love it like you do."
■ Kyle Moore can appreciate Clay Clevenger's feelings. Moore, who quarterbacked Breathitt County to a state title in 1996, is the Bobcats' new coach. "It's an honor to have this job," he said. "Growing up in Breathitt County and playing here, I've seen how important football is and how everybody takes pride in it. All of that adds to the enjoyment of it, and the challenge of it."
Moore replaces Mike Holcomb, who led Breathitt County to three state titles in 30 years. Holcomb left the Bobcats for Letcher County Central. Moore was Holcomb's assistant for six of the last seven years, so it's been a smooth transition.
Moore was an all-state quarterback at Breathitt County, and one of the most productive passers in state history. He threw for 10,026 yards and 111 touchdowns.
Moore still feels indebted to Holcomb. "He took a big chance by starting me as a scrawny, 15-year-old sophomore. We've been together ever since, and we still talk regularly." Breathitt County will visit Letcher Central in the last game of the regular season on Nov. 1.
■ Breathitt County and Danville aren't the only programs that replaced state championship coaches. Will Wolford takes over at St. Xavier, where Mike Glaser won seven state titles (and 366 games) in 31 years. Dan Wagner, a longtime assistant at Newport Central Catholic, succeeds Eddie Eviston, who led the Thoroughbreds to two state championships in his three years as coach. Shawn Berner, who guided Fort Campbell to three consecutive titles (2007, '08, '09), turned the reins over to former assistant Tony Butler.
■ Defending state champs Highlands (4A) and Trinity (6A) will get national exposure in their season openers next weekend. Highlands plays host to University Christian (Fla.) on Aug. 24 at 3:30 p.m. in a game that will be televised live on ESPNU. Trinity will be at home against Ensworth (Tenn.) on Aug. 23 at 8 p.m., also live on ESPNU.
■ Jim Shelton, Marshall County's most successful football coach (78 victories in 11 years), died a few weeks ago. He was 62. Mr. Shelton, who was an assistant for 16 years before taking over as head coach, led the Marshals to a region title in 1995 and was Associated Press Coach of the Year in 1997. He will be inducted into the Marshall County Hall of Fame this month. Mr. Shelton was also Marshall County's baseball coach for 14 years.
■ Henry Clay was going to be rated among the best boys' basketball teams in the state this pre-season before three of its best players transferred out. Christen Cunningham, a senior point guard, has enrolled at Cordia, a small school in Knott County that is coached by former UK player Rodrick Rhodes. Trey Grundy, a 6-foot-6 forward, is at Hargrave Military in Virginia where former Scott County star A.W. Hamilton is the coach. Teddy Ware, a senior three-point shooter, left the Blue Devils for Scott County. Cunningham, Grundy and Ware combined to score 1,031 points for Henry Clay last season when it lost to eventual state champ Madison Central 60-56 in the 11th Region semifinals. Jordan Green, a 6-4 senior, will be the stick-out star for the Devils this season. Green averaged 16.2 points and 6.2 rebounds as a junior.
■ Henry Clay and Lafayette are among the boys' basketball teams that will play in the Forcht Bank King of the Bluegrass on Dec. 19-23 at Fairdale. The field will also include Ballard, Elizabethtown, Fairdale, Hopkinsville, Johnson Central, Newport Central Catholic, Perry Central, Pleasure Ridge Park, Thomas Nelson and Trinity.
■ Robert Paul Amis (Perry Central), a basketball graduate assistant at Marshall the past two years, has accepted an assistant's position at Chipola Junior College in Florida. Amis, whose father John Paul Amis coached Buckhorn to the 1989 state tournament, played on Perry Central's 2004 and 2005 Sweet Sixteen teams.
■ Glasgow senior Shalika Smith has committed to Western Kentucky. She averaged 14.5 points and 8.3 rebounds last season.
■ Five seniors on Paul Laurence Dunbar's girls' basketball team last season are off to play college sports. Kierra Muhammad (WKU), Jordin Fender (Transylvania), Lexus Edwards (St. Catharine) and LaKeena Parks (Chattahoochee Tech) will play basketball. Joia Pollard (Union) will play volleyball.
■ Former John Hardin and Morehead State star Maze Stallworth is the new boys' basketball coach at Casey County. He was an assistant at St. Catharine College last season. Stallworth led John Hardin to the Sweet Sixteen in 2006. He helped Morehead State win the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title in 2009.
■ Former Lexington Christian baseball standout Evan Stephens won Wake Forest's male scholar-athlete of the year award for 2012-13. Stephens had a 3.8 GPA in finance, and he hit .358 as the Demon Deacons' lead-off man. He played all three outfield positions and made only two errors. Stephens starred on LCA's 2010 state tournament team.
■ Louis Patterson, a senior right-hander on Tates Creek's 11th Region title team last spring, signed to play college baseball at Kentucky State.
■ When Emma Talley was a sophomore at Caldwell County, she called a scorecard error on herself that cost her a state golf title. She shrugged off any kudos for doing what was right. "The name of the game is to be honest," she said. Talley won three state titles in her high school career, but it was her sportsmanship in 2009 that was her shining moment. That's why it was easy to cheer for Talley on her way to the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship last weekend. She'll be a sophomore at Alabama this season.
Schools with new football coaches
Ashland Blazer Tony Love
Bellevue Johnny Poynter
Bishop Brossart Lee Teegarden
Boone Co. Jeff Griffith
Breathitt Co. Kyle Moore
Butler Gary Wheeler
Danville Clay Clevenger
Daviess Co. Marcus Kimbrell
Fairdale Matthew Wright
Fort Campbell Anthony Butler
Fort Knox Brandon Combs
Green Co. Chris Engstrand
Greenwood Chris Seabolt
Henderson Co. Tony Lewis
Holmes Ben Nevels
Hopkins Central Marshall Enoch
Jenkins Joe Colwell
John Hardin Chad Lewis
Knott Central Steven Hollon
Lafayette Eric Shaw
Letcher Central Mike Holcomb
Lloyd Eric Turner
Magoffin Co. Scotty McCoy
McCreary Central Garry Galloway
McLean Co. Zach Wagner
Newport Matthew Schmitz
Newport Catholic Dan Wagner
Paintsville Joe Chirico
Paul Dunabr Paul Rains
Phelps Randy Smith
Shawnee Jacob Benning-Wyatt
South Laurel Matt Rhyme
St. Xavier Will Wolford
Waggener Jason Stallard
Warren East Steve Long
West Jessamine Yancey Marcum
Webster Co. Scotty Vance