Bowling Green’s swagger of success
BY MIKE FIELDS
The Everly Brothers had a top-40 hit in 1967 in which they sang about how “a man in Kentucky sure is lucky to live down in Bowling Green.”
Fifty years later, Kevin Wallace and D.G. Sherrill admit they are lucky men as they oversee powerhouse sports programs at Bowling Green High School.
Wallace, the Purples football coach, has had the winningest program in the state over the last six years. Bowling Green has won five Class 5A championships in that span while winning 84 of 87 games. Starting in 2011, it reeled off 48 victories in a row, and it currently owns a 27-game winning streak.
The Purples also have had two of the last four Mr. Football winners in Nacarius Fant and Jamale Carothers.
Sherrill, the boys’ basketball coach at Bowling Green, has guided the Purples to the Sweet Sixteen five of the past six years. They were state runners-up to Owensboro in 2015, made the final four in 2014, and lost to eventual champion Paul Laurence Dunbar in the quarterfinals last March.
Bowling Green has averaged 30 victories in those five region title years, and brings a 32-2 record and 25-game winning streak into this week’s Sweet Sixteen.
(The school’s recent athletic successes also include a state title in boys’ soccer in 2014, a trip to the state baseball tournament last year, and three trips to the Girls’ Sweet Sixteen since 2011.)
“We’re just jockeys on really good horses,” Wallace said. “An unbelievable run of good athletes have come through this school, and we’ve been very fortunate that some of them have been dual-sport guys.”
“We’ve had some really good groups of athletes back-to-back-to-back here,” he said. “And I think the number of them we share (among the different programs) is probably higher than anybody in the state. The coaches understand how to work together, and the administration is active in making sure kids get every opportunity they can. It’s paid huge dividends for all of us.”
Fant, for example, was not only a standout in football, but also basketball.
“Nacarius was my ball-boy when he was in the third or fourth grade,” Sherrill said. “Guys like him, it became very important to them to become a Bowling Green Purple. It was like a badge of honor for them.”
DeAngelo Wilson, like Fant an all-state receiver in football, has also been a catalyst on the basketball team the last three years.
Wallace also gets his place-kickers from the soccer program, and he’s had his share of baseball players doubling up on the gridiron.
“There’s a swagger that goes along with our athletes in this building right now,” Wallace said. “Because of the success we’ve had, it gives them a confidence level that’s unusual.
“I think all of us have had important games where things weren’t going well for us, and it didn’t look like it was our night, but our guys get through it and somehow come out with a ‘W’.
“But when you have quality programs, nobody really remembers what your record is; they remember how far you went in the post-season. Fortunately, Bowling Green has gone pretty far in all the sports we’re talking about.”
Sherrill said the Purples’ overall success is the result of a “perfect storm — a commitment by a lot of folks, like coaches, parents and administrators, and a commitment by a bunch of kids that want to have a special experience in athletics.”
Follow these topics: FieldsColumn