- Ada, Oklahoma

September 11, 2013

“Adabel” game is quite the trip

Joe Claxton Guest Writer

Ada —

Idabel is 150 miles or so from Ada. Some three hours to drive. Play (and win) a football game there Friday, turn around and drive another 150 mile, three hours or so.

The first 11 meetings were either playoff games or district assignments. A year ago, Ada head coach Matt Weber was forced into a scramble to find a 10th opponent when longtime rival McAlester unexpectedly pulled out of the series. The long and winding round road to Idabel was the only option.

For Ada fans, that has happened four times in the 12 victories the Cougars own over the Warriors. Four wins at Ada in the regular season including 2012, four more at Ada in the postseason playoffs and four at Idabel.

Here is a look at the four trips to Idabel.

150 miles or so, 3 hours or so 

In the first trip to Idabel and leading 21 to nothing in 1971, the Cougars appeared to have things well in hand in Dickie Stephenson’s first year as head coach. But the Warriors were not through just yet.

A touchdown pass cut the lead to 21-6. The Cougars hung on to win, with Gary Norwood completing five of 13 passes good for 75 yards. Billy Keith Gray’s rushing total of 200 yards moved him to 1,142 on the season, which was the third best single-season mark in Cougar history at that time. 

150 miles or so, 3 hours or so 

In 1973, Craig McBroom returned to the helm of his beloved Ada Cougars. In Game 9, the Idabel Warriors hosted the Cougars for the second time ever.

Jim Conway scored first on a 14-yard run. Later, Tommy Mayhue capped a drive with a four-yard run and went 25 yards to score his second TD.

The scoring mounted with Sherwood Taylor getting an interception and going 68 yards for the Cougars’ fourth TD. After another pick by Mark Summers, Conway scored his third TD of the night on a six-yard run to make the final 35-0. 

150 miles or so, 3 hours or so 

After the 1973 meeting, the clubs did not face off again until 1986 at Idabel. The year would end a drought with Ada’s first state title since 1980.

The Chris Melson-led 1986 club went 8-2 during the regular season, including a 24-6 win at Idabel.

The state championship game was played in Stillwater at OSU, and 1986 was the first of several Ada teams to earn titles there with a 34-17 win over Guymon.

Before the current 16-year drought, the 1980-86 drought was equalled only by 1975-1979 under Coach Craig since Elvan George’s first title in 1951.

150 miles or so, 3 hours or so 

Idabel fans thought they had one of their better teams in 1994. So did Ada as the regular season moved into the final game at Idabel. COW Cable, a newcomer and eventual short-timer in Ada (yes, COW cable, C-O-W e-i-e-i-o) aired the first live broadcast of an Ada football game with veterans Mickey Thompson and Jay O’Neal in the booth and then-AHS teacher Stacey Oakley’s fledgling Cougar Network News crew assisting the pros.

The downpour recorded bits of history if nothing else, as Ada dashed Idabel's expectations, 30-0.

It was Game 10 and the end of Maysville move-in Barry Odom’s one-year Cougar regular season career. Another career mark — coach Larry McBroom’s all-time yardage record set in 1970 — fell on a long, muddy slog by junior Brandon Daniels. Daniels' total has since been broken by Brian Odom and then Kerry Johnson. Wyatt Robson moved in to No. 4 last year. 

Oh, yes, then-student Trey Kenley’s broken arm from his dashing mud slides in front of the visitor stands. Ada went on to win "One More in ‘94," title No. 17,  29-7 over Clinton.

150 miles or so, 3 hours or so

Zane Bowman, superintendent of Ada City Schools, bus driver.

Not really bus driver. Coach's van driver.

“I used to go scouting with them a lot," Bowman said. "We were in the coach's van. This trip was all the way to Idabel to scout someone,  I forget who we were going to play. At the end of the game, Larry came up to me and asked if I would mind driving back. I thought that was kind of odd, but I said OK.

“We were not out of the parking lot before they were set up in the back of the van, watching the film of the game we had just seen on a little TV back there. They were breaking down the film, setting up a game plan for the next game. Larry was always that way, always working,  always looking for that little edge,” Bowman explained.

Chuck Roberts was back there, trying not to nod off. An Ada All-Stater on the 1974 state title team who was back in the fold in 1990 after several years of coaching at other high schools, Roberts was notorious for his inability to stay awake for night driving.

He remembered the trip well.

“Quite a group in there. Larry, Coach Craig, (Jim) Waters, BH (Billy Hammon), GMAC (Gary McBroom). I was assigned to  chart the offense, Waters the defense. I told him to wake me when the offense got the ball. As soon as I dozed, he hollered, ‘Fumble!’ There was no fumble, of course. He was just monkeying with me,” Roberts said.

Bowman recalled another game at Idabel, though he was not sure what year — probably 1986.

“I was sort of assigned to Craig to keep him under control,” Bowman said, laughing. He added that for the game in question, he was running late and had to drive down by himself.

“Craig was hollering down to Larry over the visitor’s crowd, ‘Waggle, Larry! Dad gum it, waggle!!’ He was as mad as could be,” Bowman chuckled. “After the game, he was still mad and asked if he could ride back to Ada with me.”

150 miles or so, 3 hours or so

So that about covers the four football trips to Idabel. Well, there was one more.

Eighty-two seventh-graders fell out for their first year of football in 1995. As seniors in 2000, they would play in Ada’s last championship game to date, but for now they were 82 bodies — 50 or so more than a normal turnout.

The young Cougars were divided into two squads. Extra scrimmages were hastily lined up. Memories fade a bit, but half the squad loaded the yellow dawgs for short hops to either Stratford or Pauls Valley.

The other half loaded up for ... you guessed it.

Enter one Richard Truitt, now-and-then shop teacher at Ada High and more importantly, the father of Jimmie, one of the 82.

“The other squad had to go over to Pauls Valley, I think. We were lucky, we got to go to Idabel. When we pulled into town, the bank clock read 110 degrees,” Truitt said.

Truitt and wife, Janet, had always supported their kids’ endeavors, and so it was that day. They followed the kid who would eventually wear No. 60 in the aforementioned championship loss to Midwest City Carl Albert, 17-7. 

A side note: No one wears Jimbo's number today. Jersey No. 60 was retired four years later when Cougar No. 60 of the day, Cody Bolin, was killed in a car wreck. It remains the only Cougar jersey number ever retired.

How far was Idabel?

“The end of the Earth, if I recall,” Truitt said.

How hot was it?

“I watched the scrimmage from under the bleachers, the only shade anywhere. Somehow the seventh-graders wound up with no water. I think the bunch that played before them must have drunk it all. I guess they must have found some for them eventually. And there was this local fellow there selling pop and water to the fans out of the bed of his pickup, which was tarped and all iced down,” Truitt recalled.

150 miles or so, 3 hours or so 

Journalist Jim Lehrer was also a novelist with several books set loosely in Oklahoma, according to Ada sports guy superlative of the day Mickey Thompson, who made many of the trips to Idabel.

“Some of those early books were set in the 'fictional' SE Oklahoma town of Adabel, which was obviously Ada, not Idabel, for anybody with a sense of Oklahoma geography and/or the history of Ada," Thompson said.

Or maybe it just was simply Adabel, a state of mind when the two towns clash on the football field, 150 miles or so, three hours or so.