In a February 07, 2009 article in the Ashland Independent, Mark Maynard tells us that JC Kennard of the early 1940’s great Ashland Tomcats football teams not only was a runner and passer but also a punter. In a couple of articles by Maynard in that newspaper we found some bits of info about who could have been the real superman in disguise.
In 1942 the Ashland Tomcats football team completed an unbeaten season and were unofficially termed “State Champs”. Ashland 70, Russell 0: This victory capped a 10-0 season and a claim on the state championship. A fabulous backfield that included J.C. Kennard, Doc Rice and Spencer Heaton dominated play. But the game that may have decided the state’s best came the previous week when the Tomcats won 7-6 at Manual.
With Doc Rice gone in 1943 Kennard and the Tomcats again worked out of a single wing formation with Kennard either running it or passing it, though he was not the quarterback. The QB was used mainly as the lead blocker. Ashland ended the 1943 season at 9-2-1.
For some who are unfamiliar with the single wing offense here is how it is described “Traditionally, the single-wing was an offensive formation that featured a core of four backs including a tailback, a fullback, a quarterback (blocking back), and a wingback. Linemen were set “unbalanced”, or simply put, there were two linemen on one side and four on the other side of the center.”
In a game vs. Ironton in 1943 Kennard ran the ball 34 of the first 35 running plays. He battered his way for yardage taking two and three men to bring him down. He would also score four touchdowns in that 33-0 win. His official yardage was not included in the stats but Kennard estimated he had around 250 yards. He played about three quarters in that game.
That is not all. The Tomcats, coached by Preacher Roberts, came back to play Catlettsburg the very next evening, something unheard of these days. The result was a 39-0 win for the Tomcats. Men of steel? Kennard played about two quarters in that game. Hey!! Even Clark Kent got tired once in a while.
From his obituary in February, 2015.: “He was an outstanding All American/All Southern football player both at the high school (Ashland TomCats) and college levels. JC attended Duke University, Hampden Sydney, University of Virginia and graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1948. He was a member of the Bear Bryant Football Boys, Phi Sigma Kappa, and the Thomas Jefferson Society. “ He was honored as Sportsman of the Year (1994) by the Ashland Elks,( a great honor in the area) and was a US Navy veteran.
Does athletic ability run in the genes? Who really knows. But consider this: A first cousin of Kennard is a guy we posted on a couple of times- Mike” The Missile” Minix of Paintsville,
MVP in the All American Bowl in 1961 was a first cousin to Kennard, which makes Mike Minix Jr., a star athlete on Paintsville’s great basketball teams of the John Pelphrey/Joey Couch era, as well as an All State baseballer, a first cousin, once removed.And, oh yeah, Let’s mention this- Kentucky’s Miss Basketball of 2010 was Sarah Beth Barnette who was a first cousin two times removed. Athleticiism in the blood.
Big Sandy blood!!