Joe Claxton Guest Writer
The Ada Cougar troops will head out for Durant Friday for a 7:30 p.m. appointment for the (loosely figured) 34th time over the series totally dominated by Ada, 56-11-2.
The Cougars will roll into Southeastern State University with a 1-1 record: a 36-21 loss to Ardmore and a 42-6 win over Idabel.
Durant matches that mark but with interesting outcomes — a 43-42 loss to Poteau in double overtime and a somewhat surprising win over Ardmore, 9-7. Ardmore was hampered by an ankle injury that soph QB Clay Atwood suffered against Ada.
Durant fans savor each victory over Ada, be they ever so few. Durant considers the game a rivalry. Ada, not so much.
Over the years since the first meeting in 1917, which Ada won 20-0, the Cougar dominance has been substantial.
It includes a 32-in-a-row streak stretching after a 0-0 deadlock in 1936 to a loss in 1980. During that span, three Ada coaches were all-victorious over Durant — Elvan George (19-0), Craig McBroom (9-0) and Dickie Stephenson (2-0).
Durant’s 11 wins were bunched up with four in the '30s, five in the '80s and single wins in 1996 and 2007.
Up for discussion here out of those losses are the three classics "played" at Ada’s home stadium, Norris Field, starting in 1983.
‘83, Norris home field for Lions
Letter jackets blocking the December cold, then-juniors T.D. Teel, Jay Johnson and some of their mates off the 1983 squad entered the gates at Norris Field, the home of the Ada Cougars. But not today.
The maroon of Ada was nowhere to be seen other than the letter jackets. It was replaced by the red and blue of Durant and the purple of the Pirates of Bristow. They were gathered to play for the state Class 3A championship.
Durant was to win the state, 14-0, that day, but the aforementioned Cougars were not around to see it. A couple of series was all they could handle.
“Sickening,” was the emotion Teel recalled. “We should have been down there on the field, not them. Especially on our field. And not Durant.”
The Cougars had two chances to derail the Lions. In regular-season play at Norris Field, in the third game Ada fully expected to top the Lions — they always did. Ada was 0-2, yet at least in the back of their minds, a win over Durant was expected. After all, it was not that long since the 32-game win streak had ended.
“I suspect that had something to do with it. Hey, we were 16-year-old kids, what did we know about it? And we were playing bigger schools, and that accounted in part for our early record (1-6),” recalled local insurance man Jay Horne, a lineman on that Ada team.
Durant prevailed, 14-3, in a hard-scrabble, evenly fought game.
A Lion who played that year, Brian Wood, looked back on the Durant championship season.
Legendary coach Gib Dolezal had taken the reins the year before. Several seniors left the team, turning the jobs over to juniors and sophs. The result was a pounding in 1982 but a battle-hardened bunch with high hopes for 1983, said Wood, a 5-8 by 200-pound "slowish" fullback who started all three years.
“We were excited, confident going into the season,” Wood recalled.
Ada scrambled to a 6-6 season and made the playoffs. Three rounds into the playoffs, the opponent was none other than Durant at none other than Norris Field.
Again the Cougars fought mightily, but it was just Durant’s year, 14-7.
To Horne’s memory, the big play was a student-body right sweep with Horne, Keith Nail, Roger Laxton and Jimmy Carter leading running back Scottie Worrell.
“We told Scottie that if he would start right, then cut back left around the other end, he would get good yardage,” Horne said.
Seventy-plus yards, to be pretty close. QB Johnson then scored on a sneak.
“When we came off the field, Coach McBroom (Coach Larry) was livid, something to the effect that he would call the plays ... that he had more football knowledge in his pinkie ...” Horne recalled.
Too little, but closer.
So, the Cougars had seen the last of the Lions on their home field.
“Sickening,” Johnson echoed old mate Teel’s comment of watching two other teams on Norris Field that December day. “We thought it should be us down there. We had come back from a really bad start,” said Johnson, whose son Christian was a receiver for the Cougars 2008-10, while Teel’s son Cason is a senior linebacker.
Horne, like several Cougars, did not attend the state game.
“I guess I was still mad,” he said. “In retrospect, they were pretty good, especially up front, real good. They had several D-1 players. The QB played college and I think semi-pro. But I am still mad.”
Horne noted that the following summer, he went to FCA Huddle and one of the leaders was none other than Gib Dolezal.
“He said he was glad we didn’t run that cutback play anymore," Horne said.
So that was it for the invasion of Norris Field by foreign powers. Not so much.
The following year, it was déja vu all over again, as the Yogi would say. This time, with old foe Clinton as the invader.
A mirror image for the Cougars. Regular season and playoff losses to Clinton at Norris Field were followed by a Clinton win, 34-13, over Idabel.
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