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Those 1972 Anderson County football players must have stayed out in the sun too long on too many days.
Or maybe they'd run into a few too many trees – a la George of the Jungle – when they were swinging near Rice Crossing.
There's really no other way to describe the chain of events that turned Homecoming 1972 into one of the most memorable games in Anderson football history.
“Before the season started, Dutch (Ishmael, the Anderson head coach) said to us, 'Who do you want for Homecoming?'” remembers Jeff Kays, a senior on the Bearcats' first district champion. “It was almost unanimous: Harrodsburg.”
OK. Uh huh. Homecoming is the night when you play somebody whose chances of beating you are roughly equivalent to the odds of McGovern beating Nixon.
All Harrodsburg had was a stable of speedsters that made the Pioneers one of the favorites to win the Class A state championship.
Anderson? The Bearcats had gone 2-8-1 in 1971 and 1-10 the year before. Harrodsburg had won the games those years 51-0 and 26-0.
Archie Bunker would say Meathead was right before Anderson County could beat Harrodsburg in 1972.
“People in the school thought we were nuts,” Kays laughs.
In talking with members of that 1972 Bearcat team, many of the details are fuzzy after 40 years. But that mid-October week of practice is still fresh.
It started on Monday when Ishmael issued sophomore lineman Rick Perry a practice jersey bearing the number 24 in honor of Harrodsburg star Bo Yeast. The most common introduction to the chain of events is simply a chuckle followed by “Poor Ricky. We beat him to death.”
Perry, who recently moved back to his hometown after living in Winchester, recalls he was being used as a tackling dummy.
“Whatever it took to make our defense better was the goal,” Perry says. “Coach (Larry) Barnett, being from Hogtown (as fans of several rival schools called Harrodsburg), was really looking forward to hanging a loss on them.”
And Perry just happened to get the honor of being Harrodsburg's star in practice.
“Poor Ricky. We beat him to death.”
Anderson was a bit of a surprise at 4-2 but was coming off a 7-6 loss to Shelbyville. Harrodsburg would probably just see another step on the way to the state championship.
Funny thing happened along the way.
Harrodsburg's vaunted single-wing kept getting grounded.
“We had the best scouting report,” Kays remembers. “Against Harrodsburg, we were calling their plays.”
And the ploy of putting the stars number on a backup lineman worked.
“The defense was able to call out the play we were about to run just by the formation we lined up in,” Perry says.
“Poor Ricky. We beat him to death.”
On Friday night, that “Poor Ricky,” turned into “Poor Bo.”
What happened next is as vivid in the collective memories as this morning's Sports Center highlights. Not long before halftime, Yeast's father had seen enough. He came out of the stands and took the Pioneers' star out of the game.
“Yeast took his helmet off, and his father came out of the stands to the sideline and told their coach to take him out before we hurt him. As I watched him, I guess I could identify with the way he was feeling,” Perry said with a laugh.
Years later, Barry Birdwhistell, a captain on those 1972 Bearcats, ran into Yeast at a University of Kentucky football game. They talked about that night. “He said we beat the living daylights out of him. He laughed about it,” Birdwhistell said.
As for playing time, Perry saw little in 1972, but he was still a part of the team.
“It wasn't until years later that I realized what my contribution to that team actually was. The upperclassmen told me I earned their respect that week,” he says.
And on Oct. 13, 1972, Meathead and Archie might have had a peaceful night.
On the way to a district title, the Bearcats accomplished the impossible.
Anderson County 20, Harrodsburg 0.
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