Trigg County High School welcomed back the 1971 and 1972 state champion football teams Friday night on the 50th anniversary of the school’s first-ever state title in any sport.
1971 Class A State Champion Football Team
Trigg County’s first two state championships in football came at the same time a 30-year-old Princeton native left Nelson County to become the Wildcats’ new head coach.
Joe Jaggers told his new players during spring practice in 1971 that the Wildcats would be eating turkey on Thanksgiving Day in Lexington. His prophecy turned out to be true twice.
Trigg County was coming off a 6-3-1 record but lost their coach Ken Barrett when he took a coaching job in Albertville, Alabama.
The Wildcats were returning several starters on both sides of the football and got off to a 3-0 start in 1971 with wins over Union County (22-6), Christian County (31-0), and Fort Campbell (24-8).
A return trip home for Jaggers’ team to play at Caldwell County in the fourth week wasn’t a rosy homecoming. Randy Dorrah rushed for 163 yards and two scores as Caldwell County beat Trigg 24-14. That loss would be the only blemish on Trigg’s record in 1971.
Trigg learned from the loss and rebounded to beat Crittenden County (19-0), North Marshall (29-0), Murray (36-6), Lone Oak (52-14), and Russellville (27-19).
The Wildcats overcame sloppy play in Elkton to slip past the Rebels 7-6 and ended the season with a 57-7 thumping of Fulton County and claimed the school’s second-ever district title. However, Trigg County did not get much respect for their 10-1 record, finishing the regular season ranked seventh in the Class 1A Associated Press Poll
The Wildcats got the program’s first-ever postseason win with a 21-0 shutout at Glasgow.
The following week, the Wildcats traveled to Harrodsburg to face the top-ranked Pioneers of Harrodsburg. Statewide analysts had Harrodsburg pegged as anywhere from a two to four-touchdown favorite, but the Wildcats came away with a resounding 32-6 win to advance to the state title game.
Trigg County advanced to their first state football championship game to face long-time Class 1A power Lynch. The Golden Bulldogs had won four state titles in the previous 12 years and were led by one of the state’s top scorers in Darryl Adkinson.
Trigg County fell behind 23-12 by halftime at Lexington’s Stoll Field. With momentum on the Lynch side, it was a stray dog that interrupted the game and gave the Wildcats a brief respite. Once the wayward dog was shown the exit, the Wildcats rallied and took the lead on a 58-yard pass from Bruce Higbee to Keith Larkins with 28 seconds left in the third quarter.
Selby Grubbs added an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter to seal the 30-23 win.
The win was the first state title for Trigg County and the final title game appearance for Lynch head coach Ed Miracle.
School records still held today by the 1971 team include:
Most total yards, team – 4,984
Most rushing yards, team – 3,797
Most wins – 13
Highest Winning Percentage — .929
Fumble recoveries in a game – 3 (Benji Glunt)
Most two-point conversion runs – 16 (Selby Grubbs)
1972 Class A State Champion Football Team
With the nucleus of the team returning in 1972, expectations were high for the Wildcats. By virtue of their 1971 state title, the Wildcats were asked to play Pineville in the prestigious Recreation Bowl. Trigg had several players nagged by injury and several others who missed a bulk of preseason practice due to tobacco farming. The result was a 20-13 loss to the Mountain Lions in the opener.
The Wildcats rebounded with wins over Christian County (27-6) and Fort Campbell (13-7), with the latter game known as the “five-down game” to fans on both sides. Trigg was able to push across the winning score on a “fifth and goal” play, according to most observers.
Trigg avenged their loss to Caldwell from the previous season when Ronnie Diggs returned the opening kick 91 yards, helping lead the Wildcats to a 36-6 win.
While the offense made most of the headlines, it was the defense that fueled the Wildcats. After giving up 20 points in the season-opening loss, Trigg gave up seven or less in their next nine games.
On Oct. 27, 1972, Trigg County played their first game at “new” Perdue Field, the current home of the Wildcats. On a sloppy, rain-soaked field, Trigg County hammered Todd County Central 54-6. Because the play chewed up the field, the following week’s game against Fulton City was moved to Hopkinsville where Trigg beat Fulton City 50-20.
The Wildcats opened with an impressive 34-0 win over Allen County in the first round of the playoffs, with the game again being played at Walnut Street Stadium in Hopkinsville.
In the semifinals, Trigg County met a Richmond Madison team that was ranked ahead of the Wildcats in the Class 1A poll.
Despite losing running back Selby Grubbs to an ejection (one some thought was by design by Madison), the Wildcats turned to the White brothers in the backfield and came away with a 19-10 win.
Trigg County returned to Stoll Field hoping for a rematch against Pineville, the team that beat the Wildcats in the season opener. However, Pineville failed to make the playoffs. Instead, Trigg faced Pikeville and shut down the Panther rushing attack, coming away with a 22-0 win and the school’s second straight state title.
The state championships in 1971 and 1972 remain the football program’s only state titles.
School records still held today by the 1972 team include:
Highest Winning Percentage – .929
Most Touchdowns Rushing, Season – 50
Highest Scoring Margin – + 27.6
Most Consecutive Wins – 13
Most Wins -13
Rushing Yards, Season – 2,242 (Selby Grubbs)
Longest Punt Return -90 yards (Ronnie Diggs)
Longest Interception Return – 90 yards (Benji Glunt)
Most Touchdowns – 30 (Selby Grubbs)
Most Points – 212 (Selby Grubbs)
Here is an interview with Jimmy Futrell about the state champion teams
Here is an interview with Benji Glunt on Friday night
Below is a gallery of the reunion at Perdue Field