Herb Childers relaxes with Mrs. Howard Moore at the Dinner Bell Restaurant after Ferguson won the 47th district title on March 3, 1961, beating Somerset in the finals.



The largest crowd to ever watch Ferguson play was the 9000 fans in Diddle Arena for the 1967 7th grade state championship game. Ferguson lost 41-29.
Ferguson had a long, proud sports tradition from 1910 through the 1960s. For much of its history it had football, baseball and basketball teams. Its pattern was to assemble strong teams in the lower grades, bring them up to the high school, win 25 or 30 games a year and district championships, make strong runs at the regional championships, then graduate them and endure several years of losing varsity teams while another strong group was developed down in the grades. The greatest basketball team was probably the 1939 unit that finished 33-3 and was ranked first in the state several times. A flu epidemic kept that unit from the state tournament. Ferguson had several outstanding coaches during its 57 year history, but Herb Childers may have been the best of them all. During the 1960-61 and 61-62 years he coached the Warhorses to consecutive district titles. The famous Ferguson gym is shown here during restoration in the 1990s. It is still used today.

It often comes as a surprise to Ferguson graduates of the late 1950s and 1960s to learn that their school once had a football team. Actually, Ferguson was quite a football power from the beginning until World War II. It was the first school in the county to field a football team, and after Somerset began playing, they were the only county schools with teams until the 1970s. Many boys transferred into Ferguson from Burnside, Nancy, Shopville and Eubank just so they could play football and try to win college scholarships, and some of those transfers also helped the basketball and baseball teams. During a bitter cold 1945 November game, several boys contracted frostbite, and one lost two fingers. The boys' families sued the school, and as part of the settlement the judge ordered the football program dismantled. The final set of jerseys remained in storage until 1968, when Principal Bob Overbey ordered them discarded.

This is Ferguson's varsity football team of 1929. Their home field (and practice field) was between the school and the road. There were no bleachers. There were 16 boys on the team. They played an eight game schedule, finished 6-2, and won the regional championship.

The Ferguson varsity basketball team in 1927. They had eight boys, the standard roster in those days. The shirts were made of wool. Teams only played 18 games back then, and this team won 15. There were 16 high schools in Pulaski County, and the district tournament took all week to play.

Ferguson players pose after winning the district title at the Somerset High School gym in March 1929, beating Somerset 44-40 in the finals. Both the district winner and runnerup went on to regionals, where there was a blind draw for seedings. In the first game of the region, Somerset and Ferguson drew each other again. Ferguson won 40-38. But in the regional semifinals, Stanford beat Ferguson 43-39. The Warhorses finished the year 19-4.

Backboards were wood, and the foul lane was only half as wide as it is now. After each team scored, a jump ball was held at center court to determine possession.

Four members of this team played college ball at Centre College, Eastern State Normal College, Kentucky Wesleyan (then located in Winchester), and Western State Normal College. A fifth, Jackie Meece, entered Kentucky University in Lexington and tried out for the team under its new coach from Illinois---Adolph Rupp. He qualified for the team, but in December separated a shoulder and never played again. This was the first Ferguson team to play in the new gym. This was also the first year for Ferguson to host the district tournament.

Taken in October 1929, this photo shows the Ferguson team that would go on to win the district championship in March of 1930. This was the first year the district tournament was held at the Ferguson Gym, where it would be held for the next decade. This team achieved notoriety of a sort when it caught Somerset on a bad night at the same time Ferguson had probably its hottest night ever and beat the Briar Jumpers 109-69. Now, 80 years later, that 40 point defeat remains the worst in Somerset basketball history. This Warhorse team was heavily favored to make it to the State Tournament but was upset by Danville in the Regional Finals 51-50 in overtime. That game was played at Centre College, which also hosted the State Tolurnament until Coach Rupp successfully politicked for it to be moved to Lexington.
Ferguson Dedicates State Of The Art GymnasiumSomerset Commonwealth
October 15, 1928-----Ferguson School dedicated its magnificent new $19,000 gymnasium yesterday to a capacity crowd of 800. Built by local contractor George Elliott, the building is the finest basketball facility in the 12th Region except for the Centre College Field House, which hosts the annual State Tournament every March. The Ferguson Gym will become the home of the 47th District Tournament for the foreseeable future, it being unlikely any other school in the county will surpass it for a long time. The gym is of red brick, with a balcony above the west end of the basketball floor and a basement underneath the entire floor. The basement includes rest rooms, dressing rooms, lockers, showers, furnace room and coaching offices. The playing floor is of maple. It is 96 ft. by 55 ft., making it the largest high school floor in the state and actually equalling a standard college floor. The main building is 110 feet long, with a 45 ft. wide porch and ticket windows added to the front, facing Jacksboro Road. There are three half circle arches, one over each entrance and one over the large window. Braces and main beams are in place to add balconies on both sides, allowing for future expansion. Six large windows border each side of the main floor, placed high enough to be above those potential balconies. Five steel trusses arch 30 feet above the floor, providing more clearance than even the Centre Field House. Six windows line each side of the basement, with two along the front under the porch. The lighting over the playing floor is very bright, and additional lights illuminate the entries, porch and basement. Rows of raised seats line both sides of the floor, each extending end line to end line. Perhaps the most memorable feature of the entire building is the electric scoreboard. The first of its kind in the region, the clock, scores and even the quarters are controlled by an operator seated at midcourt. There is no need for a student to stand on a ladder and turn wheels or use chalk and eraser. Players and officials will appreciate the end zone clearance. There is a full five feet from the edge of the playing surface to the wall on both ends, a welcome relief from those many gyms where the walls are the out of bounds lines and the backboards are mounted flush with the walls. All in all, the gym is a great advance for basketball in Pulaski County and the 12th Region.

The five varsity starters pose before the first home game of the 1959-60 season. L to R Glen Richardson, D.R. Wheeler, Carl Yahnig, Joe Frank Minton and Jimmy Young.

This team suffered through a terrible year but these players would go on to become the last great varsity team in Ferguson history. For three years the Ferguson varsity had losing seasons while these kids came up through the lower grades. During the 1959-60 season they were still too young but were pulled up to the varsity anyway. In December they would lose so badly their coach would be replaced on New Year's Day. This could have been a disaster, but the new coach as of January was a 23 year old kid fresh out of college who had coached one year at Burnside. He was Herb Childers. The team began to win a few games in January and February but still finished below .500. However, Childers was installing his system. As sophomores these players would win more than half their games and as juniors and seniors they would dominate the county and the region.

These were the 1959-60 cheerleaders. From left are Lidie Louise Jones, Judy Madge Chitwood, Marlene Hodge, Sandra Ruth Meece and Barbara Ann Meece. These girls had the difficult task of keeping spirits up during a sub 500 season, and even worse it was the school's third straight losing season. But the boys they were cheering for were all sophomores, freshmen and eighth graders. After a Spring, Summer and Fall of hard practices and another year's increase in height and strength, they came back the following season ready and in a vengeful mood. Some of those teams who had kept starters in to run up the score had graduated those starters and Ferguson's boys were just getting warmed up. During the next three years they inflicted the worst losses in school history on 11 different opponents. These girls thus had the honor of ushering in the Last Great Golden Era of Ferguson Basketball. Lidie Jones, seen here as a junior far left, would go on to win every award available to a high school girl in that era : class president, first places in state essay contests, the I Speak For Democracy competition, science fairs, beauty pageants, academic honors including National Merit Scholar status, and a spot on the All Region cheerleading team. She went on to earn a masters degree from UK. These girls were talented athletes. 20 years later, they would almost certainly have played soccer, basketball or softball instead of cheerleading.

The 1960-61 Ferguson Warhorses. L to R, front row: Eldridge LaFavors, Charles Norfleet, Joe Wheeler, Howard Hunt, Sammy Bell, Jerry Wallace. Back row : Coach Herb Childers, Larry Stephens, Carl Yahnig, Gerald Nicholas, Donnie Cowan, Michael Simpson, James Hughes.

November 1960 was the beginning of Ferguson's last great basketball golden era. The Warhorses won three straight district titles and were stopped barely short of the State Tournament both years. This 60-61 team finished 16-6 but five of their losses were in November and December as they worked on timing and shooting. In January and February they went undefeated. They upset Somerset to win the District but lost to Stanford in the 12th Region semifinals.


From row, l to r : Bert Minton, xxx, Bobby Cundiff, Howard Hunt, Joe Wheeler, Kerry Cowan, Melvin Cox. Back row: Asst Coach Bob Overby, Jerry Wallace, Carl Minton, Eldridge LaFavors, Mike Simpson, Gerald Nicholas, Donnie Cowan, Larry Stephens and Coach Herb Childers.

This 1961-62 team went 26-7, lost only one game in the county, never lost at home, was twice ranked first in the 12th Region, and was ranked in the state's top 25 all year. They won by scores like 79-48 over Stanford, 74-34 over Burnside, 83-42 over Shopville and 72-48 over Buckeye. Only a 51-49 loss to Danville in the regional finals kept Ferguson from a trip to Memorial Coliseum.

Singling out one coach during a school's 58 year sports history is difficult, but the best coach Ferguson ever had may well have been Herb Childers. He had played at Eastern Kentucky State College and begun his coaching career at Burnside. Moving to Ferguson at midseason of the 1959-60 season, Childers coached the Warhorses for three full years. The first of those they won 16 games. The next two they went 26-7 and 28-8, won the district title twice, were ranked in the state's top 25 every week, were ranked number one in the region several times, lost only two games in two years to any team in Pulaski County, and averaged over 70 points a game. Most of those players went on to play in college and several chose coaching as a career. He achieved all of this at a school that was losing enrollment and was down to just 110 students.

Childers left Ferguson in June 1963 to coach at Pendleton County. He became the first coach at the new Mason County High School. In 1968 he accepted a coaching position in Delaware, and he would eventually move into administration as a middle school, then high school principal. Childers was named Delaware Educator of the Year in 1990. At his acceptance speech at Dover, Delaware, he told the audience that of all the great players and students he had been privileged to work with over the decades, the best basketball teams he ever had were his three championship teams back in Ferguson, Kentucky.

He retired in 2000 and died in 2006.

Kneeling : Judy Hamm. Standing, L to R : Margaret Tucker (Litteral), Linda Whitaker (Linville), Brenda New, Sonnie Keith, Karen Casada. November 1965.
The 1958 cheerleaders seen looking down from the balcony.

This is the 1962-63 Ferguson JV team, coached by Bernard Tichenor. Kneeling from left are Paul Stephens, Terry Goff, xx Hunt, Dan Gibson, xx Burton and Bert Young. Standing from left are Kay Casada, Bobby Cundiff, Autry Stephens, Kerry Cowan, Donnie Cox, Gary "Chucky" Wallace and Coach Tichenor. This team won 22 games and gave fans every reason to expect Ferguson's success to continue as long as Childers remained.

We need first names for Hunt, Burton and Cox.

Coach Herb Childers' final Ferguson team is shown here at the beginning of the 1962-63 season. That's Assistant Coach Bernard Tichenor (left) kneeling with Childers in front. Players from left are Kay Casada, Bobby Cundiff, Gary "Chucky" Wallace, Eldridge LaFavers, Autry Stephens, Carl Minton, Mike Simpson, Larry Stephens, Kerry Cowan, D. Cox, xxx Whitis and xxx. Childers left after this season to become head coach at the newly consolidated Pendleton County High School in Falmouth in the 10th Region.

We need first names on Whitis and Cox and the name of #12

The 1962-63 Ferguson Warhorses finished 26-7 and won a third straight district title, beating Somerset 47-45 in the finals. They won by scores like 85-24 over Mackville, 74-40 over Eubank, 69-29 over Danville Bate, 77-36 over Burnside and 67-35 over Pulaski. A heartbreaking loss to Somerset in the 12th Region kept Ferguson from the State Tournament.

Eldridge LaFavors (left) was the playmaking guard and Dorinda Johnson (right) was cheerleading captain. Both were seniors. Dorinda was named to the All 12th Region Cheerleading Team and as the girl receiving the most votes, was named Captain.

JV cheerleaders in November of 1962 : From left : Linda Garland (7th), Judy Hamm (8th), Margaret Tucker (8th), Brenda New (8th), Nancy Atchley (7th), Leona Hamm (7th). Linda, Nancy and Leona would cheer for teams coached by four different coaches in their next five years : Herb Childers, David Cowan, Dan Omlor and Jim Wilson. Their seventh grade would become the last class to graduate from Ferguson High School.
1962-63 Varsity Cheerleaders. Seated from left : Ann Edison, Virginia Young, Barbara Meece. Standing from left Dorinda Johnson, Marilyn Yahnig, Brenda LaFavers and Peggy Lovins. These girls would graduate with the honor of cheering in the regional tournament all three of their years, and being the last Ferguson cheerleaders to appear at the regionals.
1964-65 JV cheerleaders from left : Leona Hamm, Linda Garland, Linda Lay, Joette Whitaker, Karen Casada and Sandra Keith.
The 1964-65 Varsity Cheerleaders : from left Brenda New, Judy Hamm, Marilyn Yahnig, Brenda LaFavers, Peggy Lovins and Dianne Ennis.
The '64-65 JV team from left : Mike Richardson, Larry Cunningham, Donnie Gibson, Bert Young, Jerry Peters, E. G. Wallen, Cecil Phelps, Terry Goff, Doug Barnes and Coach Cowan. The two blacks in this photo and the black on the varsity were the first minority athletes in Ferguson history.
David Cowan's 1964-65 Ferguson team. From left : Mike Richardson, Bert Young, E. G. Wallen, Blobby Cundiff, Paul Stephens, Richard Dykes, Malcolm Luttrell, David Keith, Jerry Stigall, Kerry Cowan, Kay Casada and Terry Goff.
The 1965-66 JV Cheerleaders from left : Joetta Whitaker, Sharon Denney, Kathy Duncan, Philis Jennings, Doretta Miller and Sylvia Hamm.
The 1965-66 Varsity Cheerleaders : Standing from left Margaret Tucker, Linda Whitaker, Brenda New, Sandra Keith and Karen Casada. Kneeling in front is Judy Hamm.

The 1965-66 Ferguson JV team, from left, Coach David Cowan, David Phillips, Mike Richardson, Larry Duncan, Jerry Peters, Donnie Gibson, Don Minton, John Gallagher, Jackie Linville, Jimmy Flynn and Eddie Bill Ping.

The top seven players on the varsity (below) would graduate, and the only two players over 6-0 on this JV team did not play their senior seasons. That left an entire team with the tallest player at 5-11 for the 1966-67 year and only six players in the upper three grades.

The 1965-66 Ferguson Varsity. Kneeling from left : Cecil Phelps, Mike Richardson, Coach David Cowan, Jackie Linville and Larry Duncan. Standing from left Jerry Peters, Paul Stephens, Harry Cummins, Malcolm Luttrell, Richard Dykes, Donnie Gibson, Bobby Cundiff and Don Minton.

This team was famous but disappointing. It was the tallest basketball team in Kentucky, high school or college. Western Kentucky University reached the regional finals before losing a one point game to Michigan, and the University of Kentucky reached the national championship game before losing to Texas Western, and position by position this team was taller than either of them. But Ferguson frustrated its fans with a 16-15 finish and did not even make the district finals. At the conclusion of the season David Cowan retired from coaching and accepted a job teaching Physical Education at Pulaski County High School.

Fergie's Sweater. The Denney family graciously gave Coach Dan Omlor one of their German Shepherd pups. The cheerleaders in 1966-67 adopted the dog and included it in routines. Margaret Tucker knitted the dog this sweater to wear on game nights. After graduating from Ferguson, the dog lived for 16 years on the Omlor farm in Pennsylvania. Fergie is shown at right.
JV cheerleaders Fall 1964
The Final Ferguson varsity basketball team, in November 1967. Jim Wilson is the head coach on the left, Woody Gosser assistant on right. Most of these players finished out their careers at Pulaski Co.
Karen Casada Nov '66
JV Cheerleaders Nov. '65 : L to R : Joetta Whitaker, Sharon Denney, Kathy Duncan, Phyllis Jennings, Doretta Miller, Sylvia Hamm.
Coach David Cowan poses with his final Ferguson varsity in November 1965. David went on to teach for many years at Pulaski County High School.

Vernon Norris, left, and Billy Brewster, right, pose with teacher Elaine Thornton Holder in December 1966. Billy was the center and Vernon a hot shooting guard on the greatest seventh grade team in Ferguson's 58 year history. Their team rolled undefeated through the entire season, averaged over 70 points per game, scored in the 80s five times, won the 47th district and 12th region championships, was ranked number one in the state from January 1 on, and did not lose until the state finals before 9000 fans in Diddle Arena. Vernon was sick and without his 20 points per game and defensive skills on the team's 1-2-1-1 full court press, Ferguson lost 41-29. The other starters on that seventh grade team were Gene Burton, Larry Burton, and Eddie Tucker. Dennis Whitaker, Ronnie Vaughan, Gerry Holsombach, Jimmy Denney and Doug Strunk were reserves who, because of the team's fast breaking and full court pressing style, played about as many minutes per game as the starters. Earl Ruby of the Louisville Courier Journal, who covered junior and senior high tournaments for 48 seasons, wrote that it was the greatest seventh grade team ever seen in Kentucky. Unfortunately, none of these boys ever played a minute for Ferguson High School. When the school closed, they scattered to other high schools.

Shown here are the 1966-67 Ferguson Whiz Kids. Kneeling from left are guard Vernon Norris, forward Eddie Tucker and guard Gene Burton. Standing from left are guard Doug Strunk, forward Larry Burton, forward Ronnie Vaughn, forward Dennis Whitaker and guard Jerry Holsombach. Center Billy Brewster was not present for this photo. Coaches are Dan Omlor (left) and Woody Gosser. The cheerleaders are Opal Hamm, Janice Sadler, Jenna Lafavors and Sue Burton. Upon arriving in town, Omlor had to recruit each of these players by visiting them in their homes since school was already out for the Summer. Practice began June 1 and continued every morning from 9 am until noon, six days a week all Summer. Every Saturday they would scrimmage against another team from the county. By August word had begun to spread about this very special team, and the Commonwealth Journal sent a reporter and photographer out to do a major story. Even though he was only 12 years old in this photo and would never play for the high school, Norris remains one of the greatest shots in Ferguson history. Unguarded from half court he rarely missed and guarded he hit over 70%. The three kneeling became the front three on Ferguson's famous 1-2-1-1 full court zone press, which thanks to their quickness averaged over 30 steals a game. Ferguson had a 40 year history of great teams but this group was the only one to actually reach the State Tournament.
The 1966-67 Ferguson Eighth Grade Team. Kneeling are David Carr and Darwin Minton. Standing from left are Billy Denney, Haydon Goff, Jimmy (Bear) Strunk, Doug Goff, Larry Whitaker and Billy Brewster. Coaches are, left, Woody Gosser and Dan Omlor. The disintegration of the school robbed these players of what should have been glorious careers. With players already deserting the high school, they were forced to fill in as an eighth grade team, freshman team and junior varsity, pitting them at age 14 against players 16 and 17, much taller and heavier. They finished 15-0 against eighth grade teams, 10-0 against ninth grade teams, and 6-5 against JV teams. They won the eighth grade regional championship by hammering Somerset on its home floor. They scored over 80 points nine times, won by an average of 20 points, ended Mt. Victory's three year winning streak, and were ranked first in the state from January 1 until March 1. But because they had played in official JV competition they were disqualified from playing in the Eighth Grade State Tournament. David was one of the greatest players to ever come out of Ferguson, but after Ferguson closed he played his varsity ball at Pulaski County, where he made All Regional and All State and led the Maroons to the regional finals.

These were the eighth grade cheerleaders during the championship 1966-67 season. They cheered for the team at all eighth grade and ninth grade games but when the eighth graders had to stand in as the high school's junior varsity, the regular JV cheerleaders cheered. These girls were taken on the team bus to all away games. Top to bottom are Debbie Sadler, Rhonda Beckman and Patty Hudson.

These girls were the end of an era : half a century in which truly talented girl athletes spent their time cheering for the boys rather than playing on their own girls sports teams. Shortly after this season, thanks to Federal Title 9, schools were all required to offer girls basketball, volleyball and softball teams. And while some girls still chose to cheer, the best of them spent their weekends travelling to cheering tournaments rather than cheering for their school's boys' teams. Today, many girls in cheerleading have academic eligibility problems, but all five of these girls were honor students.

At right, Coach Dan Omlor accepts the 7th Grade Region Championship trophy after Ferguson beat Somerset 66-56 at the Somerset Gym. Both teams had come into the game 12-0 and it was a sellout, the largest crowd ever to see a 7th grade game in Pulaski County.

The 1966-67 Ferguson Varsity Cheerleaders. These girls deserved a lot of credit. It being common knowledge the school was closing, players were already transferring out to other schools, and the varsity struggled. With crowds dwindling and interest waning, these six cheerleaders worked doubly hard to keep enthusiasm high. They were the final keepers of a proud 40 year tradition. From left are Sylvia Hamm, Nellie Goff, Barbara Flynn, Sonia Keith, Brenda New and Margaret Tucker. Nellie would marry Mike Richardson, pictured below. Barbara would become an important political figure. Margaret would become a nurse.

The 1966-67 Ferguson Varsity. In one year Ferguson went from having the tallest team in the state, even among colleges, to having the shortest team in the state, from averaging 6-6 across the front to averaging 5-11. That, plus inexperience and youth, were too much to overcome, and this team struggled all season. Players were transferring out in anticipation of the approaching school closure. Nevertheless, there were good players on this team, they played the toughest schedule of any Pulaski County team (including top 20 teams Louisville St. Xavier, Lexington Bryan Station, Madison Central, Scott County, Knox Central), and many of their losses were close. Across the back, from left : Jimmy Flynn (11th), Jackie Linville (11th), Darwin Minton (9th), Charlie Tucker (11th), Eddie Bill Ping (11th), David Carr (8th), Mike Richardson (11th). Kneeling in front, from left : Jerry Peters (12th), Don Minton (12th) and Larry Duncan (12th). Managers seated, Billy Bollock (left) and Doug Mitchell. Coaches are Woody Gosser (left) and Dan Omlor. Even though only 5-10, Larry Duncan finished the season as the leading rebounder in the nine team district and made the All County Team.
The Ferguson War Horses tip off the 1960-61 season against Russell County. Ferguson won this game 61-49. That's Bobby Nicholas (42) in white getting the tip for Ferguson, flanked by Jimmy Young, to the left, and Donnie Cowan, to the right. This young team would lose six games before Christmas but then lose only once the rest of the way. They finished the regular season 16-6, then won three games en route to the district championship, upsetting Somerset in the finals. They would add two more wins before being upset by Stanford in the 12th Region, to end 21-7.
Varsity cheerleaders pose in November 1955. From left are Mary Lou Edison, Marcella Sears, Marsha Haney, Shirley Colyer and Elizabeth Ann Jones. This cheerleading squad was voted best in Pulaski County. Four years later Shirley Colyer would become a Miss Kentucky candidate.
The 1948-49 Ferguson Varsity. Front row third from right is Joe Ed Richard- son. Third from left (#71) is Nelson Roberts. Back row first left is Jack Richardson.
This is the 1949-50 Ferguson Junior Varsity. 00 is Jimmy Richardson.

The 1950-51 Ferguson Varsity. Cheerleaders from left : Jenny Minton, Carol Hodge, Ann Weddle and Beulah Marcum.

2nd row : Superintendant Tate Richardson, Herschel Cassada, Joe Ed Richardson, Charles Sexton, Ray Stein, Eugene Huddleston, and Head Coach Fenamore Gover.

3rd row : Jimmy Evans, Donnie Haney, Jack Richardson, Dean Chitwood and Robert Brown.

The 1949-50 Ferguson varsity. Jack Richardson is #5 in the back row. Jenny Minton is seated first on the left in the front. Right behind Jenny is Joe Ed Richardson. After graduation Jack would marry Jenny.
Jack Richardson played on three of Ferguson's stronger teams in the 1949-51 era, earned strong grades in the classroom, and would go on to become a long time Ferguson School Board member.