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50th Anniversary: Stanford’s 1969 football team reunites to celebrate championship season

STANFORD — As the United States was putting a man on the moon in the summer of 1969, the Stanford High School football program was preparing to lay the groundwork for a successful season on the gridiron.

After a 1968 season that saw the Wildcats go 6-1-2, including four shutouts, and several key players returning, there was optimism that the team could reach the playoffs in 1969.

And it did.

The 1969 Wildcats, led by coach Bill Ed Leedy, went 7-1-2 overall and finished as the Class A, Region 2, District 2 champion, becoming the only team in SHS history to make the postseason playoffs — a much harder feat than today. The playoff system, which began in 1959, chose the playoff participant from a geographic district based on a points ranking system.

Friday night the Lincoln County High School football program, which is a continuation of the Stanford program, helped the team mark its 50th anniversary by hosting a reunion at Death Valley Stadium. Several coaches and members of the team gathered with family and friends to celebrate the anniversary of the championship.

In addition to the pregame get together, the team was recognized and celebrated on the field at halftime of the LCHS Patriots’ matchup with East Jessamine.

Bill Jones was the first of 20 members of the 35-man roster to show up for the anniversary celebration. He was soon joined by Brad Burchett, Jimmy “Mud Turtle” Hazlett, Barry Mercer, Brian Mercer, Jim Adams, Jim McGuffey, Billy Hester, David Keltner, Steve Keltner, Buddy Jackson, Dannie Gilliam, Donnie Gilliam, Mike Welch, Gary Johnson, Marshall Scott, Kenny Kidd, Bobby Denny, David Cornelius and Marvin Marshbanks.

Also on hand for the celebration were head coach Bill Ed Leedy and assistant coaches Tommy Grimes and Doug Pendygraft, as well as team statistician Mike Powers.

Only one member of the 1969 SHS cheerleading squad, Jessica McGuffey Cornelius, made the celebration.

Stanford completed its first undefeated season since 1918 to clinch the 1969 district championship and earn the Wildcats the opportunity to host Bardstown in the regional championship game. However, due to Stanford’s small stadium being inadequate to hold the anticipated crowd, the game had to be moved to Garrard County’s new stadium. The game was played in sub-freezing weather and snow had to be removed from the field in order to see the yard lines.

The regional championship game proved to be Stanford’s only loss of the year, with the season ending in a 17-0 loss to Bardstown. Bardstown had been the state champion in 1967.

The complete 1969 Wildcat roster included: Brad Burchett, Marshall Scott, Jim Adams, James Howard, Mike Welch, Steve Keltner, Sam Gooch, David Keltner, Brian Mercer, Barry Mercer, Bruce Mercer, Buddy Jackson, Bill Jones, Dannie Gilliam, Bobby Denny, David Morris, Tom Jones, Mike Long, David Cornelius, Mark Denham, Billy Hester, Donnie Gilliam, Gary Johnson, Bill Demrow, Mike Jenkins, Kenny Horseman, Marvin Marshbanks, Jim McGuffey, Bernard Brown, Jimmy Hazlett, Kenny Kidd, Kenny Lowe, Greg Noland, Don Stephens and Bill Cooper.