Welcome back. In my travels I’ve had the opportunity to learn about history and also to see history in the making and for your pleasure this week I’m bringing a little bit of both. The year was 1967, the war in Vietnam was in full swing, President Lyndon Johnson was in the White House and in Bartlesville, Oklahoma gas was running about thirty cents a gallon. In Dewey, the historical old Dewy Hotel had been sitting empty, quietly deteriorating while on Main Street Mary’s Bar was packed six days a week with people coming from miles around to see the charismatic owner Mary Bishop.
Another big draw in the town of Dewey back in 1967 was the high school football team. Led by a coaching staff each of whom would create their own legacy over the years, the head man was Noel Due who held one of the highest winning percentages in the state. All fresh out of college Ken Bruno, Doyle Patterson and Ronnie Harmon rounded out the coaching staff and with plenty of talent the team was going into one of the biggest games of the year undefeated. The group of boys who were playing in the running back positions were mostly sophomores who had been playing together since grade school. Up front on the line, the players were all seniors and they were mean! They didn’t just block you, after the game you felt like you’d been beaten up and it was the same in practice.
Among all this, there was one player who stood out from the rest and his name was George Durant but because he was named after his dad, everyone just called him Junior. At 6’1” and a very muscular 175 pounds, even at 15 years old he was already a man among boys. On September 14, 1967 Dewey was scheduled to play the undefeated College High Wildcats at Bulldogger Stadium. The Wildcats were led by sophomore quarterback Bill Berryhill who after the game would quarterback the team for the next three years.
The hype of a showdown between Dewey and Bartlesville had the stadium packed with people hours before the game which right after the kick-off quickly became a duel between Junior and Berryhill, each setting the tone for their respective teams. Dewey quarterback Roger Woody was another talented kid who had been a two-year starter and along with Robert Walton, Larry Star and Junior they ate up ground for Dewey. But Berryhill’s passing and the strength of Bartlesville’s back field with Bill Patterson and Jon Humble had the game all tied up with just minutes to play. The crowd was going nuts.
A 140 pound 6’2” reserve split end for Dewey who had also hiked the ball on fourth down to the punter, I was standing on the sideline anticipating that the clock would run out. Junior, who was my friend, played both running back and linebacker so he literally never left the field of play. Bartlesville had the ball for maybe a play or two and all our hopes rested on him. If he could get to Berryhill for a sack or maybe a fumble we had a chance.
Next week, who is Bill “Alex” Dingman and the play that won the game along with my pick for a great summer getaway and friends, its close by. I’ll leave you this week with three good things to remember: SunFest, the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show and Dr. Stan Defehr.
Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road….