BY AARON SNYDER
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
For Russell’s girls, last year’s Eastern Kentucky Conference championship proved to be a promising indicator of what was to come.
The Lady Devils beat East Carter, just like they did four months later for the 16th Region title.
Russell wouldn’t mind duplicating both feats in 2016-17.
The Lady Devils visit Bath County today at 6 p.m. as part of an eight-game slate that tips off the EKC girls and boys tournaments.
East Carter hosts Fleming County at the same time. The winner will face either Russell or Bath County in the semifinals on Monday at 6 p.m. at East Carter.
The bottom bracket consists of matchups between Lewis County and Rowan County as well as Morgan County and West Carter.
The EKC finals will take place on Thursday at 6 p.m.
The boys’ schedule today comprises four games that feature the same matchups as the girls. Each begins at approximately 8 p.m.
The semifinals are set for Tuesday at 6 and 8 p.m. at East Carter. The championship will be on Thursday at around 8 p.m.
West Carter is the boys’ defending titleholder.
Four Ashland Middle School seventh- graders earned Football University Team Kentucky selections, which numbered 30 total.
Eric Billips, Gunner Collins, Jai Highley and Baron Ratliff were part of a 48-0 win on Friday against South Georgia in Georgia. It was the first round of national play on “the road to Naples.”
Collins rushed for two touchdowns, Ratliff had a TD and five tackles. Billips had two tackles.
The quartet received invitations to tryouts, which took place at Bryan Station High School on Oct. 30, and made the squad. They had three weekends of practices in Richmond, Louisville and Lexington.
Eighth-grader Caleb Tackett started at linebacker in the eighthgrade East/West All-Star Game in Frankfort last weekend. Tackett tallied eight tackles as the East team lost, 14-6.
Stephens stands out
Ironton product Aaron Stephens just wrapped up his fourth year as a letterman for the Ohio Dominican football team.
Stephens, a 2013 Ironton graduate, garnered a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honorable-mention selection. He started all 11 games at tight end and was ODU’s long snapper.
A team captain, Stephens caught 25 passes for 267 yards and five touchdowns — all of his scores came within the final six weeks of the season.
Stephens is majoring in middle school math and social studies education.
Russell senior Seth Atkins didn’t kick off his running shoes for two whole days as he pulled off a remarkable feat last month.
A day after competing in the state cross country meet, helping guide the Red Devils to a fifth-place finish, Atkins ran in his first marathon. He completed the Marshall Marathon in just fewer than four hours, at 3:54:29.
The Governor’s Scholar is also a starter for the baseball team and is a significant contributor on the basketball court.
Former Boyd County standout Courtney Gibson collected several honors after a strong freshman cross country season at Centre College.
She took home a plaque and a couple of certificates recognizing her performance this season. The plaque touted her as the “110% Award” winner.
Gibson was third on her team — and 84th overall — in the NCAA Division III South/Southeast Region Championships on Nov. 12.
The Northeastern Kentucky Youth Sports Development is looking to raise money to build a traveling football league in area counties, not limited to Boyd, Greenup and Carter counties.
According to group spokesperson Ray Duckett, Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles has committed to support the project.
NEK will be on the search for league and team sponsors, coaches and referees. The nonprofit organization will use any raised money to spend on equipment, jerseys, field location and safety (insurance).
According to Duckett, those interested in financially assisting can visit gofundme.com/nekyouthsports to make a contribution.
Reach AARON SNYDER at asnyder@dailyindependent. com or (606) 326-2664. Follow @DIndependentQB on Twitter.