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OKLAHOMA ALL-STATE FOOTBALL TEAMS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, Selected by The Oklahoman
By Cecil Eugene Reinke
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2012 Cecil Eugene Reinke
All right reserved.
IntroductionExplanation By Cecil Eugene Reinke
This is a history book.
The purpose of writing a history book is to see that the past is remembered, remembered correctly, and remembered as fully as the writer can make possible.
The history of Oklahoma high school All-State team selections by The Daily Oklahoman, now designated The Oklahoman, has evaded many of the most devoted Oklahoma high school football fans and supporters. Ironically, the reason this history is not known by fans and supporters is that, apparently, it is not known by The Oklahoman.
Concurrent with announcement of The Daily Oklahoman All-State team of 1937, the newspaper published a list of earlier selections, starting with the team of 1925, under the caption "All-State Grid Players Since the 1925 Campaign." The published list recorded the names of first team choices only, ignorant of or indifferent to the fact that the newspaper had selected a first, second, third, and fourth team in 1925; a first and a second team in 1926; and first, second and third teams in 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, and 1937. Why the writer of this article went back only to the year 1925 one can only speculate. Possibly, the reporter thought that the selection of All-State high school teams by the Daily Oklahoman started in 1925, or, possibly, he thought selections of years earlier than 1925 would be of no interest to readers.
In an article accompanying announcement of the 1945 All-State team, under the heading "44 Schools on '45 All-State," a Daily Oklahoman correspondent wrote, "Here is a tonic-and-bitters for despondent college football coaches, a remedy guaranteed to cure the most severe case of gridiron ennui – The Daily Oklahoman's twenty-first annual All-State high school football team, cream of the 1945 prep school pigskin parade and bigger and faster than ever – 44 players from as many schools in all sections of the state."
The newspaper that announced the 1945 All-State team included a list of former Daily Oklahoman All-State teams, starting with the year 1925. In recording the teams of 1925 through 1937, the newspaper counted on each team only eleven men, incorrectly believing that in each of those years only one eleven-man team had been named. For years 1938 through 1944, the listing correctly reported that in each of these years the newspaper selected forty-four players on an equal basis, without assignments to first, second, third, and fourth teams. The newspaper explicitly confirmed lack of knowledge relating to when selections began, and numbers of players named on the All-State teams selected prior to 1938: "Here is the Star-Spangled review of All-Staters of the past. Starting in 1925, only 11 men were selected, but since 1937, 44 players have been named in North-South squads for Oklahoma's all-star game in Oklahoma City."
Obviously, the sportswriter believed that the selection of high school All-State teams by the Daily Oklahoman began in 1925. In fact, selections began with the team of 1913. Equally apparent is that the sportswriter believed the teams of 1925 through 1937 each consisted of only eleven players. Actually, the All-State squad of 1925 consisted of forty-four players, assigned to first, second, third, and fourth teams. The All-State squad of 1926 included twenty-two players, a first and a second team. The All-State selections of years 1927 through 1937 each consisted of thirty-three players, assigned to three teams.
These errors are repeated periodically concurrent with All-State announcements.
The practice of selecting Oklahoma high school All-State football teams was started by The Daily Oklahoman, published in Oklahoma City, in year 1913. That year, the newspaper published the first to be named All-State team, designated the "OKLAHOMA ALL-STAR HIGH SCHOOL ELEVEN," chosen by newspaper sportswriters. The Daily Oklahoman, later designated The Oklahoman, selected a high school All-State team every remaining year of the twentieth century, and beyond.
Regrettably, from a research point of view, between 1913, the first year an All- State team was selected, and 1937, players selected were identified by last names, surnames, only. This was presumably adequate identification at the times, with smaller schools and a lower state population, but is inadequate for historical identifications.
I wrote to almost all of the Oklahoma high schools involved, asking their help in ascertaining the first names of players identified by surnames only, and received generous responses. All first names that have become known are herein added.
One of the high school principals I wrote called me to inquire why someone living in Oregon would be writing a book about Oklahoma high school football. I explained that while my home is in Portland, Oregon, my hometown is Clinton, Oklahoma All-State Football Teams Of The Twentieth Century, Selected by The Oklahoman Oklahoma, and that I had played three years of high school football. "So, you were a Red Tornado," he exclaimed. I was pleased that he knew the name of my hometown team. Then he asked, "What year were you an All-Stater?" I quickly corrected this assumption; "I wasn't an All-Stater. I wasn't even close to being an All-Stater." I emphasized that I was not writing a book about me, that this was not a book of self-aggrandizement. I explained that while I played three years of high school football, even saying that I "played" is somewhat of a stretch. In my three years, I was never a member of what we then referred to as the "first team." I was always a substitute, awarded a school letter only as a senior. But I did practice with and from "the best seat in the house" I watched the talented play of four Daily Oklahoman all-state selections – Guard Raymond Jantz and Halfback Duane Reed in 1949, End Bob LaRue in 1950, and Guard Bill Rogers in 1951.
One intent of this book is to provide for Oklahoma high school football fans, including former players, those named to All-State teams and those not, opportunity for moments of reminiscence. Perhaps some gentleman now in his eighties will look and proclaim, "Hey, I played against that guy, and he was an all-stater." Perhaps some young woman now attending high school will read the names and say, "I've always heard that my grandfather was an all-state tackle in high school; now I know it's true." Hopefully, there will be some son of a one of the men selected in 1942 delighted with confirmation that his father was on the same All-State team as Bob Fenimore.
Another intent is to encourage readers to wonder, as I do, how those men selected on All-State teams fared in life after high school football. A troublesome question in my mind: The Daily Oklahoman All-State team of 1941 was announced on Sunday, December 7, Pearl Harbor day. Doubtless, most of those young men, if not all, served in our Armed Forces during World War II. How many of them came home to Oklahoma?
Those who went on to gain fame as college players, or achieve stardom in professional football, many know about. Many, avid fans can name them, became All-Americans. Three twentieth century selections – Billy Vessels, Cleveland, 1948; Steve Owens, Miami, 1965; and Jason White, Tuttle, 1997 and 1998 – won the Heisman.
Darrell Royal, Hollis, 1942; and Mike Gundy, Midwest City, 1985, gained recognition and the respect of football fans everywhere as college football coaches.
J. C. Watts, Eufaula, 1975, became a respected Congressman.
Bennie L. Davis, McAlester, 1945, rose to become a four-star General, and the Commander in Chief of the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command.
Equally to be respected, if not more so, are those who served their nation, state, and communities without widespread recognition. I think of Brad Bates, Pryor, 1974, who after college returned to his home town where for twenty-two years he taught Industrial/Technology Education at Pryor Junior High School, coaching football for seventeen of those years. He served five years the Assistant Principal of Pryor High School. Now he is the Principal of Pryor High School. Likewise, I think of Bill Beierschmitt, Alva, 1962, the Provost and Chief Operating Officer of the Bartlesville campus of Rogers State University, who earlier in his thirty-plus years career served as a teacher, a Middle School Principal, a Mid-High School Principal, a High School Principal, and the Superintendent of Schools, in the Bartlesville public school system. These men, and numerous other All-State high school football players, are to be lauded for careers dedicated to the education of the young men and women of Oklahoma.
No criticism of any sportswriter for not knowing when the Daily Oklahoman first started selecting high school All-State football teams, or for not knowing the number of players selected on All-State teams prior to 1938, is intended. The job of a newspaper sportswriter is to report what happens in sports, and this the sportswriters for The Daily Oklahoman, now designated The Oklahoman, have done and continue to do, accurately and interestingly. What is intended is recognition that it was The Daily Oklahoman that began the practice of naming high school All-State football teams in Oklahoma.
What the compiler of this book wants to see, in the year 2012, is a sports headline that reads something like: "This is it! The 100th Oklahoman All-State Team."
Excerpted from OKLAHOMA ALL-STATE FOOTBALL TEAMS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, Selected by The Oklahoman by Cecil Eugene Reinke Copyright © 2012 by Cecil Eugene Reinke. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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