Douglass coach Willis Alexander and Star Spencer coach Darrell Hall haven’t had much time to sit back and take things in this week.
The coaches are not only busy getting their football teams ready for Saturday night’s Class 4A state championship game at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, but their phones are ringing off the hook. People at school are stopping them to talk.
"I haven’t had time to enjoy it and probably won’t until after it’s all over,” Alexander said. "I’ve gotten so many phone calls this week, and I think I’ve got hand prints all over my back from people patting me.”
In both the Douglass and Spencer communities, people are excited. Not only are the teams playing for the state title, but they’re playing against each other — which is the first time in state football playoff history that two Oklahoma City Public Schools’ teams have met in a championship game.
Before the season, OKCPS athletic director Phil Ingersoll talked of the possibility in wishful terms.
Now, for the first time since John Marshall won the 1995 Class 5A title, the Oklahoma City Public Schools is guaranteed of having a state football champion.
"We’re very early in the process of improving football in the school district,” Ingersoll said. "But we expected Star and Douglass to make great runs this year. We thought last year they had a chance to do what they’re doing, but to see them do what they’ve done this year, and especially the last few weeks, has been super.”
Ingersoll talked about coaching stability being a key to successful programs. Hall is one of the longest-tenured coaches in the district, having been the Bobcats head coach since 2003. He served as an assistant there before that. Alexander is just the eighth coach in Douglass’ rich football history, and while he’s been the Trojans’ head coach for just three years, he is a school alum, served as an assistant coach there and was a head coach at John Marshall before returning to Douglass.
Each school has a strong athletic tradition.
→Star Spencer has five state titles in boys basketball. Douglass has three.
→The schools’ girls basketball teams have contended for state championships in the past.
→Each school has had a number of excellent track athletes.
→Both schools have had several athletes move on to successful college careers. Douglass has produced NFL and Major League Baseball players.
There is a rivalry between the schools, to be sure.Saturday, Douglass is playing for its third football title in the state playoff era. Star Spencer is seeking its first in football.