TULSA — Douglass coach Stanford White had no intentions of ending his team's annual rivalry with Tulsa Washington after 2001. But the decision wasn't left up to him.
Washington administration made the call, unknown to Douglass officials, replacing the Trojans on the schedule with Van Buren (Ark.) High School. That series lasted only two seasons, but the Douglass-Tulsa Washington rivalry has been dormant for a decade now.
It reignites Friday night at Tulsa Washington, and decision-makers on both sides want to see it continue for the foreseeable future.
Though some of the early records are difficult to verify, best accounts show Tulsa Washington leading the all-time series 52-22-3, and until the last 10 years, the game hardly missed a meeting.
The teams were scheduled to play each other every year from 1934-2001. The 1936 game was canceled because of a polio outbreak, and the 2001 meeting — like all other games that week — was called off after the Sept. 11 attacks.
They only met in the playoffs once, that a 16-15 Washington win in the 2002 Class 5A semifinals at Tulsa University's Skelly Stadium. The Hornets lost to Guthrie in the finals a week later.
First-year Tulsa Washington coach Marvin Dantzler is a native of Monroe, La., but he quickly learned just how big this game is.
“I've heard from a lot of alums who played in this game and they've all told me how big it is,” Dantzler said. “I've got four or five coaches on the staff who have been a part of this rivalry, and everybody's excited. The teachers and staff at the school are upbeat, and everybody in the community is talking about this.”
This is Dantzler's first head football job, but he is a proven winner. He coached the John Marshall boys to back-to-back state track championships before joining Darrell Hall's staff at Washington a year ago.
Hall, now the Midwest City coach, deserves a little credit for renewing the rivalry, entering into talks with Douglass coach Willis Alexander when Hall got the Washington job in 2010.
Hall knows all about rivalries with Douglass, having coached at Star Spencer. His last game with the Bobcats was a victory over Douglass in the Class 4A state title game in 2009.
Alexander, however, was one of the driving forces in bringing the rivalry back.
“When I came back to Douglass, one of my goals was to make sure we got to play that game again,” he said. “It was one of those things I felt like we had to do. It was something we needed.”