Senior linebacker Landry Chappell found his suspended coach in a crowd of Guthrie blue and gave him a tight bear hug.
“Landry’s not normally a big hugger, so I knew that wasn’t necessarily for affection,” Watkins said with a laugh.
Chappell’s intentions were indeed mischievous — other Bluejays came rushing toward Watkins with the Gatorade bucket.
Watkins pulled Chappell in and made his defensive leader take the brunt of the Gatorade bath in the chilly weather.
Not that either of them minded. Not after all this team has been through in the last month.
“It’s been a tough four weeks, but it’s been a blessed four weeks,” Watkins said.
The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, ruling that senior receiver/safety Clint Simek was ineligible, forced Guthrie to forfeit eight of its wins just before its regular-season finale.
Guthrie appealed the OSSAA’s decision to the board of directors, who allowed the Bluejays back in the playoffs.
The appeal was approved with several conditions attached, two of which were Simek’s continued ineligibility and Watkins’ eight-game suspension.
Watkins nervously watched from the stands for the fourth straight game, which started as badly as it could have for his team.
Junior quarterback Bryan Dutton fumbled on the first play from scrimmage, giving the Highlanders the ball deep in Bluejays territory.
But the Guthrie defense held MacArthur scoreless on its first drive, and the Bluejays responded with a drive capped by a 25-yard touchdown pass from Dutton to sophomore Donavan Jordan.