What began with spring football and summer pride weightlifting, 7-on-7 passing leagues and team camps, ends Saturday.
Players on five of the six teams in this weekend's Oklahoma high school football championship games will have played at least 15 games. All six will have participated in months of the offseason work.
That's a lot of football.
And to think, in 1954 the people who ran state high school sports drew the line at 11.
“Too much football” was the proclamation when the Oklahoma High School Athletic Association, as it was called in those days, voted to cancel the 1954 playoffs.
That's right. You won't find a letterman's jacket anywhere with a legitimate patch that reads “1954 state football champs.”
The OHSAA felt there was “too much emphasis on winning” and “increased pressure on coaches,” when it voted in October 1953 to cancel the next season's playoffs.
On the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities' Association website, on the page listing past football champions, 1954 says, “No championship due to membership vote of ‘too much football.' Had regular season games only, but were reinstated the next year.”
The vote was taken the association's annual business meeting, but, according to reports, representatives from a large number of schools weren't present.
A Nov. 3, 1953, Daily Oklahoman column by sports editor John Cronley reported, “with more than 200 schools playing the grid game, only 122 votes were cast.”
The official vote was 78-44, in favor of not having playoffs.
Cronley's column went on to lambaste the association's decision.
“Where is the harm in giving the boys something extra to play for, a giant goal each year, an added incentive to strive for, an objective of which to be so proud if achieved?” Cronley's column asked.
“Why not decide on the field of battle just what teams are supreme? Isn't that the basic aim of all sports?”
Polls and the general sentiment of Oklahomans at the time were firmly for a playoff system.
A Nov. 15, 1953, column by Daily Oklahoman sports writer Lew Johnson said: “In our travels around the state, and during chats with coaches, players and fans, we have found the people to be angry and disgusted with the association.”
A Nov. 8, 1953, letter to the editor from Ada resident W.A. Hubbard called the football playoff system “the most progressive move made by the Oklahoma Highschool Athletic association in the past 20-odd years,” and the playoffs' abolition “the most retarding.”
Between the 1953 and 1954 seasons, before Oklahoma had gone even one fall without high school football playoffs, momentum began building to get them back.
By the Oct. 29, 1954, association business meeting, the restoration of the playoffs in Classes A, B and C was No. 1 on the agenda.
Morris superintendent John B. Turner led the charge, speaking passionately at the meeting before the balloting. Turner first began lobbying for a playoff system in 1943.
Saying he represented the fans and student-athletes that weren't present, Turner went into an impassioned plea for the playoffs.
He blasted school officials for, “not supporting coaches who sweat for two hours every day, and thereby hold your jobs and get raises in pay for you by producing winning teams.”
He continued, saying that playoffs are, “a full expression of democratic process,” and that adding “manly competition in football stops juvenile delinquency.”
After Turner's speech, Classes A, B and C voted to restore football playoffs for the 1955 season.
Lineman Joe Rector and his Muskogee teammates never got to experience playoff football in high school.
The Roughers won the 1950 Class A state title, but were moved up to the new Class 2A with 15 other larger schools the following season, Rector's freshman year.
Muskogee and the 15 schools refused to participate in the “big-school” division playoffs.
“I vaguely remember the guys that were older than me going to playoffs and playing Ada and Chickasha,” Rector said.
“But it really didn't even occur to me that we weren't in the playoffs.”
The first Class 2A champion, Ardmore, was crowned in 1953.
But the next year, all of the postseason was off. Even when the Class A, B and C playoffs resumed in 1955, Class 2A stayed out of it.
The Class 2A playoffs were restored for the 1956 season.
Rector went on to play in college at Oklahoma, where he was a two-year starter, a two-time national champion and part of the Sooners' legendary 47-game winning streak.
But he still thinks about what might have been if his undefeated 1954 Muskogee team had competed for a championship.
“As I got older and talked to those guys who did go to the playoffs, it kind of made me mad,” Rector said. “It would have been interesting to see how far we would have gone my senior year. We thought we had a pretty good team.”