Throughout the history of Somerset High School athletics, there have been many talented multisport superstar athletes. Four of the most announced Briar Jumper multisport athletes will be inducted into the 2021 Somerset High School Athletics Hall of Fame class. Max Messamore (1975), John Cole (2008), Shawn Sandusky (1990) and Mike Griffis (1974) will be inducted into the Briar Jumpers’ Athletics Hall of Fame later this year.
It’s hard to imagine a more skilled contributor to Somerset High School athletics than Max Messamore, both as an athlete during his years at SHS and during his 46 years of training other Briar Jumpers .
A 1975 graduate, Max was a stellar three-sports athlete in Somerset. As a two-year starter at quarterback, Messamore threw for 3,600 yards and 34 touchdowns. He led the Briar Jumpers to an unbeaten regular season in his senior year and lost just seven games in his four years at Somerset High School. All these losses were suffered by the 5A or 6A schools. With Messamore at the helm, SHS football teams won the district championships in 1973 and 1974 and were regional champions in 1974. He was named Honorable Mention All-State by the Louisville Courier-Journal, the first All- team. CKC and the First All-State Team by the Lexington Herald-Leader.
On the baseball field, Max started out as a catcher during his junior and senior years in a program that was regional champion all four years. Some of Messamore’s best memories with Somerset baseball are when he played a pivotal role in the 1974 and 1975 State Championship teams.
As a forward for the basketball team, Messamore played for three years and started in this position his final year.
He attended Morehead State University after graduating.
For Max, his contributions as coach of Briar Jumper picked up where his playing days left off. He coached Somerset Youth Midget League football from 1976 to 1998. In 1998 he began a tenure as a football coach at Meece Middle School – which continues today. During this time, he built a very successful program and won three state championships. Messamore has also been an assistant coach for the SHS college football program.
Max was also instrumental in starting the Meece middle school baseball program, coaching in his inaugural 2001 season and also from 2004 to 2006. As head coach on the middle school diamond , his record was 80-6.
During his years at Somerset High School from 2004-2008, John Cole took the opportunity to compete in four sports as Briar Jumper. In doing so, he obtained twelve university letters throughout his career.
John started as second baseman for the SHS baseball team for four years. A highlight was a regional championship in 2007, when Cole was named to the all-star team of the 12h region tournament. Known for his speed, Cole holds the SHS career record for bases stolen at 118.
On the hard court, John played for three seasons and started out as a point guard for two of those years. During this time, he got the chance to play in three Region 12 All “A” Championship teams and enjoy the magic of the All “A” State Tournament at McBrayer Arena, where the Briar Jumper crowds were. legendary.
His senior year, Cole decided to try running alongside baseball. This resulted in a state championship performance in the 100 meters and a third place finish in the 200 meters.
John enjoyed a very successful football program with a strong coaching staff led by Jay Cobb, winning a regional championship in 2006. A two-time District Player of the Year award, he holds the record for an SHS season with 86 receptions (2006) and also second place with 78 (2007). His single-season score for SHS ranks second overall with 35 touchdowns and 212 points in 2006, and 4th with 27 touchdowns and 167 points in 2007. Cole’s career records in SHS include his 237 receptions and 482 points scored .
Cole holds the KHSAA record at 69 for career touchdowns and is tied for the record for one-season touchdown receptions at 28. His single season of 1,896 yards in 2006 ranks second in the KHSAA, while as his career total of 4,981 yards. His 237 career receptions rank him sixth all-time.
In 2007, Cole was the Kentucky Gatorade Football Player of the Year and was also a state finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award. He was named to the Courier-Journal First Team All-State Team as a wide receiver in 2006 and 2007.
After graduating in 2008, Cole attended Vanderbilt University on a football scholarship. He was named Most Valuable Receiver in 2009, was elected to the Football Board of Directors in 2010, and was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll every five years.
When seeking to describe the epitome of excellence in small school athletics, Shawn Sandusky’s career at Somerset High School comes to mind. His versatility and athletic prowess have allowed him to excel not only in football on both sides of the line, but also in athletics.
It’s always a great accomplishment to be named an All State in a sport, and coming from a small school can sometimes make it more difficult. So it is indeed impressive that Shawn was not only named to the Associated Press first team as a defensive linebacker in 1989, but also to the Courier-Journal second team as an offensive lineman in the same year. .
For more than twenty years, Sandusky has been the Briar Jumpers’ all-time best tackle, with 393 tackles during his playing career. Although that record was broken in 2011, he remains second in all-time tackling at Somerset High School.
In addition to his SHS athletic heritage, in his senior year, Sandusky was a 1990 state finalist in the shot put.
Sandusky attended Eastern Kentucky University after graduation.
Shawn has continued to contribute to football in the Somerset community, having become involved as a coach with Somerset Youth Football over twenty years ago. He eventually joined the coaching staff at Meece Middle School, where he continues to be part of a very successful program. This success includes three college state championships.
It’s fair to say that Mike Griffis made the most of a tough situation when his family moved from Clarksburg, West Virginia to Somerset, Ky. In the middle of his high school years. After staying there to complete his junior football season, he enrolled in Somerset High School and began what was a short but very accomplished career as Briar Jumper.
This first spring, Griffis joined the SHS athletics team. He won regional and CKC first place in the shot put in both his junior and senior years, and helped his team win a regional championship in 1974. Mike placed fourth in the state in 1973, and followed his senior season with a state championship. His put of 56 ’41/2 “is still an SHS record after 47 years. In addition to his accolades in the field events, Griffis won the region on discus and was a CKC finalist both seasons he competed. .
On the grill, 1973 was the only year Mike donned purple and gold. As one of the many talented players who have benefited from a strong coaching staff, he has helped lead the Briar Jumpers to a district championship. In recognition of his exceptional play, Griffis was named to the Kentucky AP All-State Second Team as an offensive tackle. He was also recognized by the Louisville Courier-Journal as a defensive tackle for the All-State Class AA First Team and the Second Team Overall.
Mike sparked the interest of several SEC schools – including the University of Kentucky – but decided to follow his heart instead. After graduating in 1974, Mike married the following year and was blessed with three sons. He was pastor in Barbourville for twenty years, then joined his brother to work in youth ministry, which he continues today.