The Duncan Banner

Sports

November 20, 2013

Empire alumni excited for Bulldog success

Smith, Kelly spoke to Empire players before last week’s game

DUNCAN — Although Justin Smith and Kevin Kelly are now part of the Duncan High School staff, they remember their days at Empire well.

They were both members of the 1989 Bulldog team that played for the Class A state championship. The two came to Empire last Friday to meet with this year’s Bulldog team before the first-round playoff game against Crescent.

“We talked about the opportunity they had and to take advantage of it, to do something special and enjoy the ball game,” Kelly said.

The 1989 team was the last Empire team to host a playoff game before last Friday’s contest. Smith was a junior and Kelly a sophomore at the time. Kelly was a senior on the 1991 Bulldog team, the last Empire team to win a playoff game before Friday’s 46-13  win over Crescent.

Smith remembered the 1989 run well. The Bulldogs hosted Sayre in the first round and won decisively, 49-7. Empire then headed to Texhoma for the second round.

As Smith recalled, “We made the trip to Amarillo (Texas) and stayed there overnight. It was a big deal for us.”

A bigger deal was Empire coming home with a 14-7 victory in blizzard conditions.

The Bulldogs faced Crescent — the same school Empire faced last Friday — in the third round and won 49-7. Smith noted that the Tigers were the No. 1-ranked team in the state that season.

While that victory was huge, Smith said the biggest game may have been the semifinal matchup against Maud. The Bulldogs trailed 28-7 in the third quarter, but rallied to take a 31-28 victory. Smith particularly remembered the crowd, which he estimated to be as many as 4,000 people.

“You had moms putting blankets on the bleachers the Monday before the game to save their seats,” he said. “A few local farmers drove their tractors to the field, and in the bucket of their tractors, they had a couch. They then sat in the couch while it was in the bucket.”

Empire met Ringling for the state title. As Smith remembered, “It snowed the night before, and they scraped it off the field. We played on a Saturday night and the field was frozen.”

He added Ringling had size up front and their players were able to push them on the ice, leading to a win for Ringling. Still, Smith said that Bulldog team was a special one.

“We had a great bunch of seniors — 17 of them,” Smith said. “It was probably close to a record amount of seniors for an Empire team.”

Kelly said the Bulldog players, from freshmen to seniors, had played together since their youth football days. As a result, they were all close. He and Smith had been friends since Kelly was in kindergarten and Smith was in first grade.

“We got to play with a bunch of our best buddies and be successful,” Kelly said. “For a Class A team, we were a really special team.”

He and Smith agreed that this year’s group of Bulldog players is similar to the 1989 group.

“It’s a group of kids who have stayed together,” Smith said. “They play with a lot of heart and figured out how to win.”

The two now work for Duncan schools — Smith is the Duncan High School principal and Kelly is a DHS teacher and the wrestling coach. But they enjoy keeping tabs on the Empire Bulldogs and were more than happy to talk to the players when Empire coach Tony Roberts asked them.

“I played at Empire and coached there for four years,” Smith said. “We went 0-10 a couple of those years. To see the tradition back at Empire is a really big deal. I told the kids that, after Duncan, they are the next score I check out.”

Kelly said Empire may be a small community, but many people are taking an interest into how far the Bulldogs can go.

“I told the kids that a lot more people are following them than they think,” he said. “I told them to just enjoy the opportunity. I’d give up anything to suit up for (Empire) again.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Price Gayanich and Price featured at All State

    With Comanche’s Jacob Hammond not participating, Indian coach Nick Price and Velma-Alma’s Jaz Gayanich represent Stephens County at the 2014 All State Boys’ Basketball game at Oral Roberts University’s Mabee Center Thursday night.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Gray and Revels represent Stephens County at All State

    Both Comanche’s Shane Revels and Duncan’s Jett Gray lost their matches at the 2014 All State big-schools dual at Bixby High School Wednesday night,

    July 31, 2014

  • Coaches OU football coaches talk about season at local fundraiser

    Toby Rowland addressed the elephant in the room even before Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel arrived at Journey Church on Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Sideshows involving Rice and Dungy stain NFL's image

    Pro football training camps should be all about, well, football. But the talk around the NFL is about Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's two-game suspension, Tony Dungy's indelicate remarks about Michael Sam and Jim Irsay's largesse. What kind of league is Roger Goodell running?

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • All Stater Gray represents Duncan at All State

    Jett Gray will represent all of Stephens County at the All State wrestling dual on Wednesday at Bixby High School.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tennis All State group All State wrapup

    There has been plenty of success for Stephens County High Schools this year and with that comes All State nominations.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Duncan tennis sets a new mark of success

    Sustained success for many years makes it difficult for Duncan high school tennis to earn achievements it already hasn’t accomplished.

    July 29, 2014

  • Breaking through For Coffman, All State runs in the family

    Following in his parents’ footsteps, George “Trey” Coffman III takes part in the Oklahoma All State Baseball Game at 7 p.m. in J.L. Johnson Stadium on Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • VA’s Allison coaching small-schools

    In his first year at Velma-Alma, Colt Allison led the Comets to a regional final appearance in baseball, took over as the football head coach and was named the small-schools coach for the baseball All State game on Tuesday.

    July 29, 2014

  • Big game atmosphere VYPE picks Duncan to make playoffs

    Despite facing a rigorous schedule, Duncan was picked by VYPE’s preseason football preview to return to the postseason after a one-year hiatus.
    With new coach Craig Benson taking over this season, the magazine predicted Duncan will finish fourth in Class 5A District 1 ahead of Chickasha and behind Ardmore. The Demons are also ranked as the No. 16 team in the Class, with Lawton Mac being the highest ranked team in the district at No. 4.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Poll

Should the date for The World's Largest Garage Sale be changed from the third weekend in July to sometime in October to take advantage of cooler weather like we had this past weekend?

No. It's better in the summer cause kids are out of school.
Yes. More shoppers would come during nice fall weather.
Either time is fine.

     View Results