Tulsa Central ’65

Football Season


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Thanks, to Lin Brister we can relive those

thrilling days.


1963 had not been kind to Tulsa Central Football, it was the first losing season in over 20 years.  We were looking to bounce back and get back into the winning column.  What we have here is a word for word copy of the articles that appeared in the weekly high school newspaper for Tulsa that year.  I have tried to keep even the writing and phrasing intact.  It hurt a bit to do that but what you see is what we read then. 

Editor:  Lin Brister

Dateline:  Thursday, September 17, 1964, Skelly Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The following is an excerpt from a “Pre-Game” prediction, published on the same day the game was played.

Braves Seek Revenge

Central’s Braves, coached by Rosy Nolan, kick-off the season tonight at Skelly Stadium at 8 p.m. in a contest with Van Buren, Ark.  Central, which lost to Edison in the All-City, will be out to revenge last year’s opening loss to Van Buren.  The Braves feature a good ground attack, triggered by senior quarterback, Ronnie Rowell.  Van Buren will have an edge in experience because their season started two weeks ago. 

Unfortunately the optimism was a bit unwarranted as the following was printed after the game.

Van Buren Squad Continues Mastery over Central, whips Braves

Central Braves versus Van Buren, Arkansas Pointers

Although the statistics were in their favor, the Central Braves lost their football game at Skelly Stadium September 17, to Van Buren, Arkansas.

Neither Central nor Van Buren were able to score in the first half.

The second half opened with a bang.  Van Buren’s halfback, Bill Keeton, ran 85 yards for a touchdown with the Central kick-off.  David Housley kicked the conversion which proved fatal for the Braves.

Stunned, Central moved 57 yards in the next series, only to be halted at the Van Buren nine on a fumble by Brave fullback Ples Vann, recovered by Pointer Allen Meadors.

Central regained the ball and went on to score a 15-yard run by halfback Glenn Strobel.  Brave guard, David Singer, recovered a Central fumble to pass the scoring ball to Strobel.  The conversion was tried but fell shy, leaving the score 7-6 in Van Buren’s favor.

In the fourth quarter, Central was threatened by a Van Buren move to the Braves’ 13 after a fumble by Ples Vann at the Central 47.  The Pointers’ last-minute try for a score was halted by Central’s quarterback Ronnie Rowell, who made a fumble recovery.  (Obviously he wasn’t playing quarterback at the time.)  The fumble gave Central another chance but the desperation passes by Rowell could not make the needed yardage, and Van Buren gained possession of the ball as the clock ran out.

Central made 12 first downs, gained 230 yards rushing, and passed for 25 yards but the Braves were plagued by four lost fumbles.  The Pointers only made 10 first downs and gained only 126 yards rushing and not a single yard passing but lost only one fumble.

Record to date:  0-1

Dateline:  Thursday, September 24, 1964, Skelly Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Wildcats blank Central Eleven

Central Braves versus Bartlesville Wildcats

Outplayed in every department, the Central Braves were defeated by the Bartlesville football team, 10-0, at Skelly Stadium Thursday night.

Although Bartlesville completely dominated the first half, the stubborn Brave defense did not let the Wildcats score until Wayne Sisco kicked a 32 yard field goal for three points in the closing moments of the (first) half.

With time running out in the fourth quarter, Central’s quarterback Ronnie Rowell started throwing desperate passes.  Less than a minute before the end of the game, Ronnie threw a wild pass into the intercepting arms of (defensive) end Mike Blanks to put Bartlesville on the Central 31.  Then with 15 seconds left, Jon Axton did a respectable bit of broken-field running for Bartlesville to garner the only touchdown of the night.  The conversion was good and the Wildcats won,  10-0.

Record to date: 0-2

Dateline:  Saturday. October 3, 1964, Skelly Stadium, 2:00 p.m.  Tulsa, Oklahoma

Pre-Game hype and predictions:  Rogers faces perhaps its toughest test of the season when the Ropers play Central’s Braves Saturday afternoon at Skelly Stadium at 2 p.m.  The Ropers’ fine offense, which gained 522 yards against Muskogee, 491 of them rushing, features the hard-running of quarterback Paul Hull, Halfback Joey Grayson and fullback Vic Prather, and the pass catching of ends Buddy Hayden and Jerry Philpott.  “Tough on Defense Too” the article continues.  Rogers also features a sturdy defense, which has given up only one touchdown in the first two games.  The Ropers must stop Central’s good ground attack, led by Ronnie Rowell, Glenn Strobel, and Ples Vann.  The Braves who suffered their second straight defeat at the hands of Bartlesville last week will be seeking their first win.

Roper Blitzkrieg Crushes Central

Rogers Continues to Conquer By Rolling over Braves In 30-0 Slaughter

Central Braves versus Rogers Ropers

By turning two blocked punts into touchdowns the Will Rogers Ropers stacked up a 30-0 victory over Central Saturday in Skelly Stadium.

This victory further insured the Ropers of first place in the Oklahoma Seven Conference with a record of three wins and no losses.

Rogers exploded in the second quarter with a 22 point barrage but great defensive play was what was outstanding to watch.

In the first half the Braves crossed the midfield stripe only once, reaching the Roper 45 before they lost the ball.

Rogers end Jerry Philpott helped block both Central punts.  In the second quarter Philpott broke through to block Central quarterback Ronnie Rowell’s kick, picked up the loose ball on the Brave six then lost it when he was tackled.  Roper end Norman Summers then scored from the three. 

Late in the third quarter Roper guard Dave Saunders blocked another punt; Philpott grabbed it at the 12 and carried it over for a touchdown.

The other Rogers touchdowns came after bona fide drives.  Quarterback Paul Hull capped a 49 yard drive with a one-yard plunge over the goal in the first half of the second period. (Now that’s just not good writing.)  Joey Grayson scampered 10 yards untouched for another tally after a 70 yard push which was greatly aided by two 15 yard penalties against the Braves.

In the last series of the first half, Rogers tackle Richard Lyle recovered a fumble on his own 45.  Hull launched a 43 yard pass which was snagged by Larry Skelton on the Central 12.  The pass into the end zone was broken up by Mike Barkley.

The Braves’ defense did not slacken in the heat of the second half but they could not make up the score the Ropers gathered in the first half.  Against the Ropers reserves quarterback Ronnie Burden completed three passes for 27 yards.  An interception halted the drive seconds before the end of the game.

Record to date:  0-3

Dateline:  Friday, October 9, Skelly Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Braves win first, Notch 14-0 Victory in Edison Clash

Central Braves versus Edison Eagles

A unique play in which Central benefited from its own blocked punt late in the second quarter gave the Braves all the steam they needed to push across a score in the first half of a 14-0 victory  over the Edison Eagles at Skelly Stadium Friday night. 

For the first 17 minutes the game was strictly a defensive one.  Edison had pushed Central back to its own 13-yard line with superior punting when a quick kick by Denny Howard, Brave halfback, was blocked by Edison but grabbed out of the air by another Brave, Bert Scott.

With the ball under his arm at the 10-yard line, Scott took off and wasn’t stopped until he reached the Eagles 37-yard line.  The Braves took advantage of the break and scored nine plays later David XXXX going over from the one yard line.  Jack Carter’s conversion kick was wide and the half ended with the Braves leading 6-0.

The second half started off with Central halfback Jimmy Arnold running the kickoff back 55 yards to the Eagle 20.  Central got to within six inches of another touchdown but was held off by a stout Eagles defense.  When Central regained possession of the ball, the Braves marched 50 yards in three plays.  A pass by Ronnie Rowell to Bert Jones was good for 23 yards and the last play was a 21 yard scoring jaunt by George Ruby. 

Rowell, quarterback, passsed to Larry Spencer for the two point conversion.

Record to date 1-3

Dateline:  Friday, October 15, 1964, Webster Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma

No newspaper article available; these are my remembrances of the game plus some additional information from other articles.

Webster was picked to win the Magic Empire Conference prior to the season and had played Rogers to its the closest game of the year so Central was not expected to do well.  Here’s the “Picker’s Prediction” prior to the game.

Webster (18) vs Central (14)

Warrior war-footing-ground attacks and a solid defense will brave the potent but fumbly Brave drives.  The battle between the brave Warriors and the warring Braves could be close if Central gets out of its using-play-arrows attack and keeps up its blistering defense. 


Here are my recollections.  We were playing them on their home field in west Tulsa, we considered it a hostile environment.  As Vic Bailey reminded me, the biggest battles between Webster and Central had generally taken place at McDonalds on South Peoria.  This was a chance to get even. 

The coaches were looking for ways to improve our offense and came up with the idea of rotating the guards, they would send the plays in with the guards on each play; that would get rid of a problem they had developed with our signals.  Seems like in a previous game they felt someone was able to listen in on our play selection as it was being transferred to the sideline by a walkie talkie system, quite an innovation for the time.  I don’t remember much about that game other than David Singer and I rotated at left guard the entire night.  That means we sprinted on and off the field each offensive play.  Remember we were linemen, not running backs.  I just remember I was tuckered out when it was finally over.  One other memory is lining up near our own goal line and it was third down with about 10 yards still to go.  Coach Nolan called a quick kick; Larry Spencer took a pitch and booted the ball, it was what we now call a rugby kick.  The kick took the Warriors by surprise and took off rolling down the field, it had rolled 73 yards before it came to a stop, still a record in my book for a high school punt.  We came out on top that night by the difference of a two point conversion, 8-6.  Things were looking up, we were within reach of breaking even for the season. 

Record to date:  2-3

Dateline:  Friday October 23, Skelly Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Central Drops first loss ever to Memorial

Central Braves versus Memorial Chargers: no newspaper article available.  I have found a few bits of information and will summarize it here.

Memorial was just into their third season as a football team so their kids had been playing as starters for three years and it really seemed to make a difference.  They had gone from losing every game to coming into our game undefeated, now under their new head coach Bob Riddle.  That name was familiar to us as he was our backs’ coach for two years before going to Memorial.  Suffice it to say, Memorial showed up and Central didn’t.  Memorial 14, Central 0.

Record to date 3-3

Dateline:  Friday October 30, 1964, Skelly Stadium, Tulsa Oklahoma

Last Minute Heroics by Quarterback Carry Braves by Rangers, 14-13

My headline would have been:  Braves’ Miracle Finish Enough for Win over Rangers

The Central Braves flashed to a 14-13 victory over the Hale Rangers in the final minute of their football game last Friday night at Skelly Stadium.

In the final 19 seconds with the score standing 13-8 in Hale favor, second string quarterback, Ronnie Burden, passed on a fourth down and five situation to Kent Jones who was all alone in the end zone for the winning touchdown.  The conversion failed, but Central was ahead by one point.  (What the writer fails to mention is the ball hit the Hale defender in the chest, after going through his hands, and then skipped into the wating hands of Jones.  It was nothing short of a miracle but counted none the less.)

Burden had come into the game only a minute before the deciding score.  He passed to Jones who lateraled to Larry Spencer for a 28 yard gain.  Larry Horacek scampered for several gains, including five yards to the Hale 17 on a fourth and two play.

In the third quarter the Braves made their first mark on the scoring sheet; although Hale led the first half, 7-0.  Spencer and Horacek led an offensive drive, the latter going over from the 1 yard line.  Ronnie Rowell hit Spencer with a two-point conversion pass, to bring the score to 13-8 in Hale’s favor.

The Rangers dominated the first half, rushing for 199 yards to Central’s six.  Hale opened the game by driving to the Central 37 but had to punt.  Six plays after the Rangers regained the ball on a Central punt, David Gustine burst through the Central line and literally dragged the tacklers across the goal line for a 21-yard touchdown run.  Phil Angeri converted.  Hale scored again with 1:45 left in the third quarter when Billy Padgett found a hole in the Central line and slipped through for a 10-yard scoring jaunt.  Rangers’ Johnny Dobbs tried for a two point conversion but the pass was incomplete and the score stood 13-8.

Record to date:  3-4

Dateline:  Thursday, November 5, 1964, Skelly Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Central Braves versus Muskogee Roughers

This was the pre-game hype in the Student paper: 

Braves Battle Muskogee:  In Oklahoma Seven action Muskogee brings its crew to Skelly Stadium tonight to meet the Braves of Central.  Muskogee, which has had its troubles so far this year, will attempt to scalp the powerful Braves with a strong running game.  Central, who always is tough, has shown its power with victories over Edison and Webster. 

Here’s what the “Picker” said and his prediction:

Central (15) vs Muskogee (7)

Central usually strikes one as an undeveloped giant who doesn’t know his own strength; and the Braves’ll strike Muskogee—but now they have discovered their strength, as Hale found out.  Their inconsistent offense should periodically spurt through their weaker opponent’s defense; and their acid defense should completely corrode a feeble Muskogee attack.  Muskogee will score as a result of one of Central’s many scheduled fumbles.

Braves Bombard Roughers, 26-14, Move into Second

With three interceptions that ended in touchdowns, the Central Braves romped over the Muskogee Roughers, 26-14, in a hair-raising duel at Skelly Stadium last Thursday night.

Central won the toss and elected to receive the kick-off.  Before the Braves started moving, Rougher Ron Freeman intercepted a pass thrown by Ronnie Burden.  A few plays later, Steve Slaight broke through the Brave defense and galloped 37 yards for as stunning touchdown with the game only three minutes old.  Mike Herndon drove through the Brave line for the two-point conversion to give the Roughers an 8-0 lead with 9:56 left in the first quarter.

Horacek Tallies for CHS

Four minutes after the Roughers scored, Larry Horacek of Central belted across from the Rougher two-yard line to make the score 8-6.  A pass attempt failed (for the point after try) and left the score 8-6.

The Braves set themselves up for their second touchdown of the night when Rush Clinkscales recovered a Rougher fumble on the Muskogee 29-yard line.  After running four of the eight plays necessary, Ples Vann, second string fullback, went over from two yards out.  Vann replaced Horacek, who was injured.  Larry Spencer then went around end for the two-point conversion.  The Braves took their half-time rest with a 14-8 lead.

Vann Gets Second TD

Central started the second half with a touchdown.  Jimmy Arnold intercepted a Rougher pass and ran it to the Rougher 26.  Ronnie Rowell, Dennis Howard, and George Ruby took the ball downfield, and Ples Vann went over for his second touchdown of the night.  Ronnie Burden tried a pass to Rowell who was stopped on the five yard line.

With the help of a 25 yard pass completion from Mike Herndon to Steve Slaight, the Roughers moved on to their second and last touchdown.  The combination of Herndon to Slaight connected again for a 22 yard touchdown pass.  The two-point conversion failed when Mike Herndon tried to run it over.  The score stood 20-14.

Arnold Gallops 60 yards

Central’s last touchdown was a dramatic one.  Jimmy Arnold, Central safety man, intercepted a Rougher pass on the Brave 40-yard line and took off on a 60 yard scoring jaunt.  The two-point conversion failed.

A short rain just before game time proved to be a big factor in the game.  Muskogee lost the ball five times on fumbles and interceptions.  The Braves, a team that usually can’t seem to hang on to the ball lost only one fumble and had only one pass intercepted.

The Braves’ victory was marred by the loss of Larry Horacek, the bull of the backfield, when he was injured in the second quarter.  His shoulder was bruised badly but he will probably be back in play again against Ponca City, November 20.

Record to date:  4-4

Dateline:  Friday, November 20, 1964, Ponca City, Oklahoma

No articles available.

Central Freezes out Ponca City 14-12

My memories of the game:

We were optimistic of finishing the season on a win to give us a winning season, something Central was familiar with, the previous losing season, 3-6, had been the first in probably twenty years.  The weather was horrid s the game was played on one of those cold November nights when it seems the North Pole has come South for a visit.  It had been raining that week, memories of our last practices in cold driving rain and the mud it created, were still on our minds.  Expecting it to be cold we planned ahead, the linemen all took gloves and long sleeved shirts to go under our pads.  It wasn’t enough.  At about 20 degree and with a driving wind out of the North, the puddles from the week’s rain were frozen; nothing any of us had seen before at a football game. 

I can’t say I remember how the game played out, just how cold it was and how the gloves I was wearing weren’t doing the job I thought they would.  Man it was cold! 

The last recollection was that of Coach Chuck Bowman coming into our locker room after the game to congratulate us.  He had been our line coach the first two years of our high school careers and was, at that time, the head coach at McClain.  His kind words of congratulations and encouragement have resonated with me, and I’m sure others, since.  Chuck eventually resigned to become the State Director of Fellowship of Christian Athletes where he served until retirement. 

Here’s what Larry Horacek remembered about this game:

I remember the line played an especially pivotal role in our last game of the 64 season against Ponca City.  They ran a slant defense off a 5-4-2 on almost every play, slanting to the strong side of our formation.  Two of our offensive plays were dynamite against this set.  One was Belly 36, a fullback slant off right tackle.  Ponca would be slanting right, but right into a crack-down double team on the defensive tackle lead by Bert Scott.  He would then scrape off and catch the linebacker (who leaned right at the start of the play, but was then completely out of position to fill when the play developed to his left).  The right defensive end literally slanted himself out of the play and gave our right halfback a perfect angle to kick him out.  I had a two-lane highway off right tackle most of the night.  The other play was right over center.  Our play was a 31, a fake to the right halfback and then a counter handoff to me just off the center's tail.  You and Ron Taylor played it like you'd been doing it forever.  Maybe it was only a lane-and-a-half but it was “Katy bar the Door.”  I had almost 160 yards that night and both scores for our 14-12 victory.  The temperature was bitterly cold for a November game but no one complained when we came away with a big "W" playing at Ponca City.

I appreciate the opportunity to say a few words to my teammates who'll be meeting at the '65 reunion.  As it turned out, I received an appointment to West Point and I played football there as a linebacker.  There was no better preparation for the rigors of being in the Army than playing football.  Two-a-day practices, aches and pains of hitting and getting hit, exhaustion after practice were all complemented by the camaraderie, friendship, and life lessons we experienced.  Many of you set excellent examples that helped me become a better leader.  I made the military a career, was an aviator, and a specialist in Soviet military affairs.  Still, as I look back, playing football has been my defining experience.  Bert Scott was someone who I admired because he was a standout on both the football and basketball teams.  I feel very fortunate to have had athletic opportunities with coaches like Rosey and players like all of you.

I married my classmate, Jane Broome, and we settled here in Baton Rouge after I retired from the Army.  Please extend my fondest wishes of happiness to all of our teammates and express how important our shared experiences continue to be to me.

Kind regards,                                                                                                Larry Horacek

The bus ride home was great, we were victorious and had come from behind to post a winning season and to take second place in the Conference behind Rogers.  Not bad after an 0-3 start.

Final record:  5-4

Congratulations Class of 1965

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