Former South Laurel star to lead Great Crossing football

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GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WTVQ) – He’s young and yet he still is a legend in Kentucky high school football record books.

And at one point he wanted to be a minister. But he missed football and his longing for community service ended up making coaching and teaching — mentoring young men and women — a perfect fit.

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Now, after a year as an assistant, 30-year-old Ricky Bowling has been named head football coach at Great Crossing High School in Scott County, taking on the task of building the program in just its second year in a traditionally strong district.

Bowling takes over for Paul Rains, who has twice retired as a champion-building coach only to be brought out of retirement, the last time at Great Crossing. Rains says he’s officially hanging up his coaching playbook this time.

And anyone who watched the Warhawks last year knew Bowling was the person who likely would take over, especially after Bowling engineered a switch from the spread offense to the veer after seven games last fall to take advantage of the talents of his freshman- and sophomore-filled team.

“Six years ago I had a five-year plan. I wanted to become an offensive coordinator within five years. I knew it would give me a chance to evaluate if being a head coach was something I wanted to after that,” Bowling told the News-Graphic in Georgetown. “Last year I had a great opportunity with Coach Rains, the mastermind, just to be a sponge and soak it all up. It made me decide I could do it and build a program.”

Bowling is no stranger to hard-core high school football fans and even casual observers alike.

At South Laurel High School, he 947 passes in his career, that remains the most ever in KHSAA football. His 133 touchdown passes are tied for second-best with none other than Tim Couch of Leslie County and University of Kentucky fame.

He threw for 12,575 yards, third best in state history.

He now must bring that winning tradition and tyouthful energy to Great Crossing and Scott County, where fans know a little about winning since Scott County High has won state titles and has a string of 10-win seasons.

Bu bowling gets it.

He went to work with the young team in the weight room last fall and that continued through the winter until the COVID-19 shutdown derailed team activities. But he’s tried to keep players inspired to stick with their work however they can.

“I think this time has made our kids see even more how important the weight room is,” Bowling told the News-Graphic. “It’s made them become more creative in their workouts at home.”

And he’s using his social media skills to help build a brand and valuable community support for Great Crossing’s Warhawk green in territory that has belonged to Scott County’s cardinal colors.

“We want our kids to have a visible presence in the community, so we’re going to put their faces out there as much as we can. We’re here not just to teach football but develop good servant leaders in the community,” he told the newspaper, summarizing the entire mental approach he hopes to bring to the program.