Tragedy and Triumph

As the chartered buses they called “Smarties” carrying Ashland’s 1967 football team motored toward home, there wasn’t much chatter among players, even though, less than 12 hours earlier, the Tomcats had defeated Elizabethtown 19-14 in the Class AA state championship game. Despite accomplishing a promise they made to each other in the bowels of Putnam Stadium more than a year before after a playoff loss to Fort Thomas Highlands concluded the 1966 season, the mood was not one of celebration. It was more somber and subdued.
They were making the four-hour drive from Louisville to Ashland with heavy hearts and a stark reality that they are not invincible. That lesson was driven home in a very real way with the tragic death of classmate and basketball player Joe Franklin, who was killed in an automobile accident near Morehead on the way to a basketball scrimmage with four other students – three other basketball players and a manager – the morning of the state championship game.

Hard Cover Edition