The 2008 Year in Sports

Published 11:26 am Thursday, January 1, 2009

It was the end of 2008 that gave the local sports world its greatest memory.

The death of Ironton’s Coy Bacon, the former three-time NFL All-Pro defensive lineman, came on Dec. 22.

The 65-year-old Bacon was the unofficial single-season (26) and career (130) quarterback sack leader as he played with the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Washington Redskins during his 16-year career.

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He spent two seasons of those seasons on the Dallas Cowboys’ taxi squad.

Since the NFL did not recognize sacks until 1982, Bacon’s totals are not in the record books.

There were some other great moments throughout the sports year, and some sad memories as well. Here is a month-by-month recap of the local sports year.


Former Ironton football players Tyler Whaley and Marcus Williams played in the BCS national championship game for Ohio State, but the Buckeyes lost to LSU 38-24.

K.C. Christian, who played at Rock Hill, was also a member of the Ohio State team.

Symmes Valley softball coach Jeff “Odie”Estep was inducted in to the Ohio High School softball coaches Hall of Fame.

Jeff Davenport, a former minor league baseball player, released a book about proper little league behavior entitled, “Chatter Up.”


South Point boys and girls basketball teams won Ohio Valley Conference championships. The boys completed a 20-0 regular season.

Ironton’s Bub Johnson and Felipe Beach signed to play football at Kentucky Christian University.

Sectional winners included: Fairland, Chesapeake and Ironton — the Fighting Tigers upset unbeaten South Point – on the boys’ side while Ironton and South Point won titles for the girls.

District champions were the Fairland boys’ and South Point girls. Each lost in the regional semifinals.

Former Ironton All-Ohio lineman Tyler Whaley won the scholar-athlete award at the annual Ohio State Buckeyes football banquet.

Qualifying for the district wrestling tournament were Fairland’s Chris Jackson (152), Zac Fannin (145) and Garrett Wireman (140) along with Chesapeake’s Thomas Lewis (125).

In the all-district basketball selections, Ironton’s Jessica Waddle was the co-Player of the Year, St. Joseph’s Chad Harvey Player of the Year, Symmes Valley’s Alvin Carpenter Coach of the Year (Div. IV), and South Point’s Gary Norris was the district and state Coach of the Year (Div. III).


Former Ironton All-Ohio guard Dennis Gagai was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Freshman of the Year. Gagai plays for Northern Kentucky University.

Coal Grove All-Ohio lineman Dustin Harmon was selected to play in the Ohio High School Football Coaches North-South All-Star Game.

Roger Snyder agreed to come out of retirement and coach the Fairland football team one more season.


Pikeville (Ky,) College signed Coal Grove linemen Dustin Harmon and Tyler Allen.

Chad Belville resigned as the Fairland boys’ basketball coach and was replaced by John McClung. Charlie Kitchen was hired as the Green boys’ basketball coach.

Ironton track star Marc Carter signed with Akron while volleyball standout Jessica Seevers agreed to play at Fairmont State.

Retired newspaper man Paul Sierer of Ironton died.

Teddy Keaton resigned as the Huntington Heroes’ arena team coach.


Rock Hill’s Nathan Davenport signed to play baseball at Cedarville College.

Fairland claimed the OVC baseball title while Chesapeake won the girls’ crown.

Symmes Valley won the SOC baseball championship under first-year coach Chad Renfroe.

Tyler Whaley signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals but was later released.

In the OVC track meet, the Fairland boys and South Point girls claimed titles.

South Point center Cody Taylor signed to play basketball at Rio Grande.

Sectional winners included: St. Joseph and Fairland in baseball, Ironton and Symmes Valley in softball. Symmes Valley won the district before losing in the regionals.

Randy Smith was named the new athletic director at South Point.

Rock Hill’s Drew Kuehne signed to play quarterback at Maryville College and Brooke Long to play softball at West Virginia State. Chesapeake guard Kyle Rase will play basketball at Rio Grande.


Qualifying for the state track meet were Ironton’s Marc Carter and Lukas Morris, Fairland’s Aaron Ward and Jordan Aldridge, and South Point’s Ericka Leighty.

Morris finished second in the high jump at the state meet.

Ironton High School golf coaches Jeff Kerns and Tony Brown as well as Proctorville’s Mark Brooks qualified for the Ohio Amateur.

St. Joseph’s David Crossan signed to play soccer at Indiana Tech.

Former Coal Grove state champion shot putter Tyler Branch, now at Ohio State, was 10th at the USATF junior nationals.


Ironton baseball standout Nick Lewis signed with Berea College.

The Ironton Senior League All-Stars won the District 11 title and finished as state runners-up. The Symmes Valley Senior League All-Stars got a bye to the regional tournament and finished as regional runners-up.

Symmes Valley’s Emily Bowling was awarded an OHSAA scholar-athlete scholarship.

The Tri-State Junior Golf Circuit players of the year were Nathan Kerns (age 16-18) and Andy Holtzapfel (13-15) of Ironton and Coal Grove’s Brent Morgan (10-12).


The focus was on the Summer Olympics as Michael Phelps won a record eight gold medals in swimming.


After 30 years working at the Ironton Country Club, Jerry Frecka announced he would retire.

Ironton’s golf team won the sectional title and the school’s first-ever league championship with the SEOAL crown. The team was fourth in the district but senior Nathan Kerns qualified for the state tournament.


Kerns finished eighth in the state tournament to earn All-Ohio honors.

After a year hiatus, Ironton qualified for the postseason playoffs and advanced to the regional semifinals.

Coal Grove, Fairland and South Point shared the OVC football title.

Fairland dominated with nine of the top 10 runners in winning the OVC cross country title.


Ironton’s Nathan Kerns, who was the district Player of the Year, signed to play golf at Marshall University. Jeff Kerns was the Coach of the Year.

Named All-Ohio first team in football were Ironton’s Michael Lamb and Tony Murphy.

Green senior guard Ashlee Runyon signed to play basketball at Rio Grande.

Ironton voted to leave the SEOAL beginning in 2010.


Bacon’s death was the lead story of the month, but former South Point center and Rio Grande freshman Corey Taylor was killed in an automobile accident on Christmas.

The Arena Football League suspended play for 2009 that ended Tyler Whaley’s plans to sign with the Columbus Destroyers.