Following in the foot(ball)steps.
In 1959, when legendary Ada coach Elvan George took over at East Central, he brought with him a cadre of Cougars, including standout lineman Farrell Large. Some 55 years later, current ECU head coach Tim McCarty welcomed another outstanding group of recruits, including another Large one: Grandson Camron, a Cougar standout in his own right.
The grandpa-grandson relationship has been a solid one.
“It means a lot to me. It will mean a lot for me to follow in his footsteps at Norris Field,” Camron said recently in the AHS student center, having just returned from concurrent college classes at ECU. “He has always been there throughout my career here as a Cougar. He was a Cougar through and throughout, and I have tried to be the same. ”
Farrell has several grandkids and tries to make it to see them perform in whatever sport or activity. Though Camron’s father Todd, a nurse in Ada, did not have the chance to play football at Ada due to Farrell’s coaching stops elsewhere, he was a very good high school wrestler, and Farrell said he is very proud of him.
“Camron playing football really made me proud, and the fact that he was in Ada made it even more special,” grandpa said.
Most memorable moment with grandpa?
“When he taught me how to run. I spent a week with him in Lawton during one summer. I must have been around eight years old. I was taking short steps and he taught me how to stride out, and it increased my speed a bunch,” Camron said.
“I will think about him each time I step on that field,” Camron said, knowing that Farrell will always be in the stands.
Like every coach who gave remarks on Camron, Farrell noted his intelligence first of all.
“He’s never made a B. All A’s, and he will carry 15 college credits with him to ECU from courses he has taken there through high school. He is planning on a career in some form of medicine,” proud grandpa said.
Most recently at the honors banquet, Camron received the Jim Thorpe Scholarship Athlete award, which honors 10 athletes in the state who excel in academics as well.
“He was upset that he did not make All-State (he was named All-Star by Class 4A by the Oklahoma Coaches Association), but I told him making the Jim Thorpe was even better, especially with the $1,500 graduate school scholarship,” Farrell said.
Camron fits the mold of a good college player from head to toe — from high intelligence upstairs to the great feet 6-feet two inches and 280 pounds below. He will play center in college.
With Eli Flinn entrenched at center, Camron dug in at left guard and Ada had a strong, experienced up-the-middle punch.
In the 2012 season, it was old home week for grandfathers. Flinn was the grandson of another standout area athlete/coach in Eldon Flinn. Though he attended McLish, Eldon was a good running buddy with Farrell as was Joe Stanford, whose grandson, Cade Stanford, started in the line next to Camron and Eli that season.
Things have changed of course. While Farrell was in high school and at ECU, Norris Field was beautiful grass in the early season, stubble and dirt later on. Blood, sweat and tears, though by rule blood is no longer allowed on the newly turfed field.
Long-ime, now retired Ada coach Don Byrd was overjoyed to hear that his old friend’s grandson would follow him at ECU.
“I was a sophomore and Farrell a senior in the 1958 team. We both started on offense, I at left guard and he at right tackle,” Byrd recalled, adding that they came oh, so close to adding another gold ball to the now burgeoning trophy case.
“A Cushing kid who had never kicked a field goal beat us, 9-7, with about two minutes left. We could not get going the rest of the way,” Byrd said.
“Farrell is a good musician. He and John Ross, his cousin Larry Large and several others still play today,” Byrd said.
Farrell told of their days from rockers to kickers.
“Back then, we played everywhere. Fifties rock, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, stuff like that,” he said.
It must be remembered that 1958 was the time of Elvis, Little Richard ... and Ada’s own "little," Little Joe and the Ramrods.
“We took the name from a song of that day ("Ramrod" by Duane Eddy of Rebel Rouser fame), and our lead singer, Little Joe Stanford,” Farrell said.
Now, at 72, Farrell and the Ramrods have slowed a bit into the "old country" music genre. Ray Price, George Jones, and the Ramrods no longer tour, unless you count reunion concerts at John Ross’ cabin in Ada. As many as eight or nine old Ramrods and other musicians gather there frequently.
The staff of staffs
Craig McBroom assembled the staff of all staffs in the sixties — the Dons, Don Byrd, Don Hutchings, Don Hood — and Dickie Stephenson, Mike Simmmons, Dorsey Jack Reirdon, and Mike McBride.
Hutchings recalled Farrell and days of studying football at OU.
“While Farrell was coaching here at Ada High, we had a special relationship with OU and spent a lot of time emulating, learning from them. Farrell was particularly enthralled by line coach Buck Nystrom. He even copied him on how he dressed for practice. If Buck had a jersey with a tear on it, Farrell would, too.
“He learned his whiffle ball bat routine in practice from Buck. A lot of his coaching lingo he got from Buck.”
“It was special time with a special crew. We all came together on everything, all the coaches and including the wives. We had a lot of fun.”
Especially close during those days and also in college at Cameron was current AHS principal and football coach Charlie Golightly.
“He was a father figure of sorts for me,” Golightly said. “He stayed on top of you. From football to schoolwork, he helped out every way he could.”
Like the famed staff of his time in Ada, Farrell said the current staff under Matt Weber is a good one, knowledgeable and well-liked by the players.
After college, Farrell spent time on the coaching staffs of Pauls Valley (Bob Burris), Ada (Craig McBroom), Cameron (Bear Jensen), head coach at Chickasha, Brewer White, Texas, (Benny Davis), back to Cameron (Keith Lavender, Cecil Morris).
A horse is a horse, of course
After 29 years of coaching, Farrell started an insurance agency in Lawton, which he still operates. He also fell in love with horses during that time.
Farrell said he has to be on a horse to have a lot of fun. For some 30 years, he has been on one on his Lawton area ranch. He is a member of the Lawton Rangers Riding Club, the driving force behind the PRCA rodeo there.
The best post-season honor
As the post-season honors piled up, along came a final accolade for grandson from grandpa:
“I told him he was a better football player than I was.”