Hall of Fame High School Football Coach Jerry Potter

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Welcome back. Whenever I’m traveling, as I am now in Colorado, it gives me the time to get caught up on interesting stories that I haven’t properly covered and this is one of them.

On a recent visit to Oklahoma City, someone mentioned the Putnam City High School football team and a big winning streak they had had during the 1970s. I didn’t remember much about this so I did a little digging and in the process I discovered a legend with close ties to Bartlesville.

Jerry Potter took over as head coach of the Putnam City team in 1965 and by the end of his high school tenure his record stood at 171-67-8 and he had become known as the father of the Putnam City program. With Potter as coach, the school won three state championships and in 1977 the team was undefeated when they played Putnam City West for the championship. It was standing room only at Taft Stadium on the night of the game. Coach Potter retired after that 1977 game with a 21-14 win in overtime. Many people consider this to be the greatest game ever played in Oklahoma High School football.

Pro Football Hall of Famer and former State Representative Steve Largent played for Potter and he has said publically on several occasions that his old coach “altered the landscape of my life.” As a young boy Largent had an absentee father and Potter became his mentor and role model both on and off the field.

Kent Bradford is another of Potter’s former players who credits the coach’s influence for the success he has experienced in life. After graduating from Putnam City, Braford went on to be an offensive lineman at OU and father of Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.

Former players were not the only ones to honor Coach Potter. In 1980 he was inducted into the National, yes that’s National, High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Another bit of amazing information I found was the number of his past players who went on to become successful coaches themselves. Dennis Evans is one example who became quite well known in high school football and gives Potter all the credit for his success and the success of dozens of others.

With such an outstanding record of accomplishment, I was curious as to what drove Coach Potter. Through my research I learned that he dropped out of high school in 1943 to join the Marines where he served as a tail gunner during World War II. In 1945 he returned to high school and then went on to Cameron University and Oklahoma City University, playing football at both schools.

Usually when I discover a person as interesting as Jerry Potter I contact them and ask for an interview but unfortunately this story doesn’t end that way. On Sunday June 21, 2015 the front page of the Oklahoman carried the sad news that both Coach Potter and beloved broadcaster Bob Berry, Jr. had both died. As you may know, Berry was killed in a motorcycle accident and Potter died of health problems. As for me, I know I can’t interview everyone but I am sure sad that I missed out on Coach Jerry Potter.

Moving down the road, I hope to be back in town for the Children’s Musical Theater production of Mary Poppins at the Bartlesville Community Center which starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday. I caught a preview of the show this past week and let me tell you it was great! This is the much loved story of a magical English nanny, Mary Poppins, and her adventures with the Banks children. The story originated with a series of books by P.J. Travers and was later adapted for the movies by Walt Disney. In 2004 the story became the basis for a musical on Broadway and has since been performed around the world.

As many of you readers know, I have been hanging out in New York and have had the chance to see a lot of shows and folks these kids have talent. I plan on going and hope to see ya there. With that, from Denver, Colorado, till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………..