By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
He’s been All-Big 8, the state’s player of the year, a prep All-American and a member of both a state champion high school team and national collegiate championship team.
But none of those titles are better than being a father to Lydell Carr, whose 163 yards rushing and two touchdowns propelled Enid to a 14-0 upset of Tulsa Washington 30 years ago in the Class 5A state championship game.
The Plainsmen are holding a reunion for members of their 1983 championship team Friday with the team being recognized during Enid’s game against Owasso.
However, Carr won’t be at the reunion as he’ll be watching daughter Kaitlyn play volleyball. Kaitlyn, a 6-foot-4 junior at Centennial High School in Frisco, Texas, is back in action after being sidelined by knee problems.
“I hate that I’m not going to be there,’’ Carr said, “but it’s going to be exciting to see her on the court after she’s been out so long.’’
Carr’s football career didn’t quite turn out as many expected after a 2,076-yard campaign in 1983 at Enid and excelling as a four-year starter at fullback for Oklahoma, where he was on a national champion team in 1985 and four Big Eight title teams.
Carr ruptured his hamstring while racing teammate Keith Jackson shortly before the NFL draft combine.
“Keith Jackson called me and said ‘hey, I can beat you (in a race),’’’ Carr said. “I didn’t stretch and I ruptured my hamstring.’’
Carr, projected as a first-round draft choice, dropped to the fourth round to the New Orleans Saints. The leg “never got back to what it was,’’ he said.
He played briefly in the NFL and a couple of years in the World League of American Football. He became a car salesman in the Dallas area and currently is the “financing guy’’ for a dealership in Greenville, Texas.
“It was tough,’’ Carr said. “The other day my 9-year old (daughter Jaclyn) told me ‘Daddy, if you didn’t hurt your leg, we would be rich.’’’
He laughs at that story. He has no regrets or sorrows.
“I’ve been blessed in other ways,’’ he said. “The kids are healthy. I’ve got a healthy marriage (25 years). I’ve got a good woman. I’m rich in other ways. You look at guys like Junior Seau who are killing themselves ... I’ve had a good life.’’
He still lives with some of those football injuries. He had a hip replacement in 2003. He has to take injections for nerve damage in his neck.
“If I had to do it again, I would do it all over again,’’ Carr said.
“I still take a look at my state championship ring,’’ he said. “There are some great memories there.’’
Carr remembers “everyone counting us out,’’ before the Tulsa Washington game, The Hornets were ranked as high as No. 3 nationally.
Carr, at 205 pounds, was bigger than all the Enid linemen, except for 215-pound Tim “Papa Crunch” Bonnewell.
“We were outweighed about 100 pounds on the offensive and defensive lines, but somehow we came out with a victory,’’ Carr said. “We hung together, played lights out and won the game.’’
Carr set the tone when he returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
“That pretty well made us,’’ he said. “We knew we could win. We believed we could win, but that pretty much was icing on the cake. It put us on such a high that we kept it up throughout the game. We never came down until it was over.’’
Carr still recalls the return as if it were yesterday.
“I remember being by myself and catching the ball in the air,’’ he said. “I went right down the middle. The guys did a great job blocking. It was like the Red Sea opening up and I hit it straight up the gut.’’
He rushed for 161 yards on 28 carries, including a three-yard insurance score in the fourth quarter. He set that score up with a 40-yard run.
“It was a great mob of blocking,’’ Carr said. “We swung it right up the gut.’’
Yet, the story of the game might have been the Plainsmen defense, which held the Hornets to 73 yards in total offense and four first downs. BTW didn’t enter Enid territory the second half.
“Jeff Ring and Danny Collums ... all those guys played lights out,’’ Carr said. “It was just the way we came together.’’
Washington running back Patrick Collins would become Carr’s teammate and roommate at OU.
“We didn’t really didn’t talk about it that much,’’ Carr said. “We were recruited together. He asked if I could be his roommate, which was awesome.’’
Carr still holds the single-season and career (3,326) records at EHS.
Carr credited coach Ron Lancaster for the state championship and his development as a player. Then OU coach Barry Switzer, speaking at a banquet in Carr’s honor in the winter of 1988 said the Enid product knew “how to practice from day one.’’
“Coach Lancaster really installed a work ethic,’’ Carr said. “He said hard work was going to pay off and I took that with me. He believed if you practiced hard, you’re going to play hard. When I got to OU, guys were saying ‘Carr why don’t you slow down and take it easy. Working hard is what Coach Lancaster taught us to do.’’
Carr appreciated those lessons as he had almost instant success at OU. He admitted Lancaster was hard on him.
“He actually was harder on me than most,’’ Carr said. “I appreciated him for being so. He wasn’t going to allow me or any other guys just to walk away through practice. He wasn’t going to show leniency to anyone.’’
Carr’s career took him around the world. He played for Barcelona in the first year of the WLAF. That was difficult for him because his son had just been born.
“It was a different experience,’’ he said. “The fans were great down there. When you took the field in Barcelona, they would sing through the entire game. I can’t remember what they were singing, but they were loud. But it was tough to have to spend three to four months there when my son was three months old.’’
Carr has tried to keep up with teammates. He was hit hard a couple of years ago when teammate Norman Sewell died. He had planned to go to a benefit for Sewell, but the former wide receiver would die within a week and a half.
“When something like that happens, you realize life is too short,’’ he said. “At that point of time, you want to pick up a phone and catch up with everyone ... but that’s difficult to do when you’re at work and you’re trying to keep up with the kids. I hope all the guys are doing well.
“I’m reaching the age where you make sure you’re getting regular checkups and everything.’’
Carr said he needs to push himself away from the table and get back to the gym. Doctors have prohibited him from running or going on a treadmill, but he can walk to try to take the stress off the hip replacement.
“I miss football,’’ he said. “I miss the relationships ... being in the atmosphere of trying to achieve the one goal to win a championship.’’
Carr moved from Greenville to Frisco, Texas, so Kaitlyn could attend volleyball tradition rich Centennial High School. Last year one of her teammates committed to Texas. Another is headed to Mississippi.
“She has expressed interest in trying to get a scholarship,’’ Carr said. “She would like to play at OU or TCU or North Carolina.’’
Caitlyn has had trouble with her kneecap popping out. The team physician for the Dallas Cowboys and Mavericks did surgery on her.
“We’re hoping for the best,’’ Carr said.
Jocelyn, the 9-year-old, is into gymnastics, volleyball and basketball which keeps her dad hopping.
Carr’s son, Christopher, is going to a community college in Frisco. His football career was cut short by injuries.
“I don’t think he cares that much for football,’’ Carr said. “He doesn’t have to play because I did.’’
Carr doesn’t live in the past, but the memories are good.
“I appreciate what people did for me in Enid,’’ he said.
“I appreciate how everyone in Enid and Norman cheered for me throughout my career.’’