Ashland is ready to begin its Love story.
The school introduced Tony Love as its 23rd head football coach since 1919 on Friday night at halftime of the Ashland-Johnson Central boys basketball game.
The announcement came just a little more than a month after former coach Leon Hart declared his retirement.
Love has served the past 19 years as an assistant on staff, including spending the last 10 as the Tomcats’ defensive coordinator under Hart.
“I feel like I’m in an exclusive fraternity now,” Love said.
Love emerged from a “deep and talented pool of applicants,” according to Mark Swift, Ashland’s athletic director.
“As we went through the process it became obvious that Tony Love was absolutely the best fit,” Swift said in an email. “We owe it to our players and the community to get the best coach possible and we’ve done that with Tony Love.”
Almost every bit of the 45-year-old’s coaching experience has taken place at Ashland. He served on Greenup County’s staff for one season. As a player, Love was a linebacker and defensive lineman at Meadowbrook High School in Byesville, Ohio, and then at Morehead State University, from where he graduated in 1990.
Ashland’s defense has been fairly steady with Love in control. The Tomcats allowed just 18.3 and 13.8 points per game in the last two seasons, respectively.
Love looks forward to the challenge of helping carry forward Ashland’s rich tradition.
“It’s so different here ... it’s a blessing and a curse at times,” Love said with a laugh. “You have to be spot on, week in and week out. Most teams have one or two rivals. For us, it’s week after week after week. You have to have thick skin, strong shoulders, and be committed to what you believe in.”
None of the current assistant coaches applied for the job, which spoke volumes for Love.
“It showed they were in complete support of me,” he said. “We have a staff in place that’s second to none.”
When Hart took the position in 2003, Love wanted it. Hart’s powerful resume filled with college experience was too much with which to compete.
Looking back, Love is thankful everything worked out the way it did.
“Mentally, at this point, I’m a lot different than I was 10 years ago,” Love said. “Working with coach Hart, you can do nothing but get better. I think, with what I gained from him, I’m going to have a lot more success than I would have 10 years ago.
“I want to thank our administration for seeing the same thing.”
Love outlined three keys to winning: “Run the ball, play great defense and be a disciplined team.”
And a fourth: “I want the kids to have a great attitude.”
Love’s already seen promising signs with the current crop of returning players this offseason.
“Even without a head coach, we had great numbers in the weight room,” he said.
The head wrestling coach for the past 12 seasons, Love is approaching that position status as a “wait-and-see” situation. In any case, he wants to see the program continue to prosper. He’s taking his wrestlers to regional competition at Sheldon Clark today.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.
Ashland introduces Love as head football coach
Ashland is ready to begin its Love story.
- Local Sports
The will to win
Opponents get the same look from Emily Stewart whether it’s softball, basketball or soccer season.
Steely eyed and lips pursed, the Boyd County senior is keenly focused and all business between the lines.
THE WEEKLY CYCLE: Holding the key to upset city?
It takes only one game. Few are more firm believers in that fact than the small schools that find themselves in underdog roles year after year.
Locals struggle to make impact
Some days you are the windshield and some days you are the bug.
It is a saying that proved to be all too true for Rowan County on Friday night at the KHSAA Class 2A State Track and Field Championships at the University of Louisville’s Owsley Frazier Cardinal Park.
Womack eliminated in state semis; Rose Hill, Russell doubles also ousted
Fairview senior Kennedy Womack wasn’t her consistent self in Saturday morning’s state tennis semifinals at the University of Kentucky’s Hilary Boone Tennis Complex.
As a result, the top seed fell to Lexington Sayre sophomore Madeline Rolph 6-1, 6-0.
Womack was obviously disappointed with her finish, especially after losing in last year’s state finals, but she was happy for her good friend Rolph.
If Fairview could have fielded a combined track and field team at Saturday’s Class A State Track and Field Championships, the Eagles and Lady Eagles would have had a record day. Instead, the Fairview girls had to “settle” for fifth, while the boys’ claimed 10th.
Womack eliminated in semifinals
Top-seeded Kennedy Womack was eliminated in the semifinals of the State Tournament on Saturday at the University of Kentucky tennis courts.
It looked for a while that a questionable call may have determined the outcome of the game, but in the end, it was just an afterthought.
Boyd County finds senior spark
Losers of four straight, Boyd County was searching for something positive Friday night before beginning postseason play Monday night.
Doubles teams head to semis at state tourney
With rain staying away, the KHSAA State Tennis Tournament got into full swing on Friday afternoon.
Semifinals and finals will be held today at the University of Kentucky Boone/Downing Tennis Complex for boys and girls singles competitions.
McKnight hurdling to Georgetown
Fairview’s Paige McKnight is known for jumping hurdles. She cleared a pretty big one on Thursday.
In front of friends and family at Fairview Elementary School, McKnight signed a letter of intent to run track for Georgetown College.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- The will to win