By Jeff Mullin, Senior Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Enid’s last state football championship when the Plainsmen claimed the Class 5A crown. Several members of the 1983 team will be on hand at halftime of Friday’s game against Owasso at Selby Stadium in recognition of their accomplishment. The News & Eagle joins in recalling Enid’s championship season.
Today, News & Eagle senior writer Jeff Mullin, who was the sports editor at the time, looks back at the 1983 season.
“When Lydell Carr walked into the Enid High locker room late Saturday night, he carried two footballs with him.
“The first was a dirty leather one that he had just carried for 161 yards and two touchdowns against the Booker T. Washington Hornets.
“The other was made of gleaming brass and sat atop the 1983 Class 5A state championship trophy, which Carr and his teammates had just earned with their 14-0 victory over the Hornets.”
Those words appeared in the Dec. 4, 1983 edition of the Enid Morning News, written by the paper’s young sports editor.
My memories of that championship football season, the Plainsmen’s most recent, come in flashes, snapshots really.
I remember interviewing head coach Ron Lancaster in his office as rain dripped from the bill of his cap. He had just watched his Plainsmen stand toe-to-toe with powerful Midwest City in a soggy preseason scrimmage. The Bombers were everyone’s team to beat in class 5A, but Enid outscored them three touchdowns to two.
“This was one of those nights when you find out if your kids can get up in somebody’s face and play,” he said. “I think we found that out tonight.”
Enid opened the season with three straight wins. Two were shutouts, over Stillwater and Ponca City, but Putnam City West pushed the Plainsmen to the brink. Enid’s 7-6 win was secured when defensive end Danny Collums pressured West’s quarterback into throwing an incompletion on a two-point conversion try with 1:03 left to play.
Then, the next week surprising Moore came to town, took advantage of four Enid turnovers and beat the Plainsmen 27-7.
The rest of the season was a series of fairly routine wins. Enid finished the regular season 9-1 and ranked No. 2 in Class 5A.
The Plainsmen opened the playoffs with a 42-6 drubbing of Norman.
The next week came the game of the year. Enid had to travel for a rematch with Moore.
Starting quarterback Rob Hawkins was injured on the final play of the first half and spent halftime and all of the third quarter at a local hospital having his neck X-rayed.
Enid struggled against the Lions in his absence, and trailed. The dream season appeared to be nearly at an end.
But, with 10:50 left in the game, Hawkins trotted back onto the field to the cheers of the many Enid fans who made the trip.
With less than seven minutes left, and Enid trailing 13-3, the Plainsmen began their comeback. Hawkins threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Kelly Killam to cut the Moore lead, and Carr scored on a six-yard TD run with just 50 seconds left to put Enid ahead 16-13. The win was secured when Mike Schram intercepted a Lion pass and Enid ran out the clock.
Another meeting with Midwest City followed in the state semifinals, a game Enid won easily, 27-7. Enid put the game away with a 79-yard, 13-play fourth quarter scoring drive.
Then it was on to the state championship game against Tulsa Washington at Tulsa Union’s stadium. Booker T. was No. 1, Enid No. 2.
Tulsa assistant coach Bill Young, who went on to coach at both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, called Washington the biggest high school team he had seen on the field that year. Enid’s offensive line was outweighed by an average of more than 17 pound per man.
“I’ll tell you this,” Lancaster said, “we didn’t come this far to lose. Washington will give us a great challenge. But they haven’t played the Plainsmen yet.”
Prior to Lancaster’s first season at EHS, in 1981, he told his sophomores, “When you are seniors, you will be state champions.”
The veteran coach proved prescient.
Carr took the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, setting the Hornets back on their heels and putting Enid ahead to stay.
Enid’s scrappy defense held Washington, which was led by tailback Patrick Collins, who went on to play for OU, to less than 100 total yards. The Hornets got to the Enid 11-yard-line once, but the Plainsmen held and Washington missed a field goal.
The Plainsmen won despite turning the ball over four times, twice in its own territory.
The score remained 7-0 until early in the fourth quarter, when Carr broke free on a 40-yard run. He got up slowly after that run and was helped to the sidelines, but returned two plays later and scored the game’s final touchdown on a three-yard run with 8:59 left. He would finish the season with 2,073 yards and 18 touchdowns.
The postgame locker room was a joyous, chaotic scene. After a season of hard work and sacrifice, the Plainsmen were at that moment, and for the rest of their lives, champions.