“They asked the players, ‘What did it mean to you, and what does it mean now?'” Tucker said. “They all talked about the camaraderie, and how tight they were as a team, and what it meant to be stepping on ground that had never been stepped on before at Blanchard.”
The Lions' return to the state finals might have surprised some outsiders this season. They were No. 20 in The Oklahoman's preseason rankings, coming off a 5-5 season.
“At the beginning of the season, Coach Craig told us nobody would be talking about us, and everybody would doubt us,” Tucker said. “We just took that as motivation — naysayers, and we're out to prove them wrong.”
The 1979 Lions went 15-0 in Class A, defeating Hartshorne 37-14 in the title game. At 12-1, this year's team can't quite match that record, and it has a stiff test ahead in 14-0 Kingfisher, which has had only two games with a final margin closer than three touchdowns.
Regardless of the outcome, there's going to be one incredibly proud father in the stands, watching his son following his footsteps in Blanchard football history.
“It's more special watching him,” Darren said. “You want your children to do well, you want them to succeed.
“I've been able to see the camaraderie these guys have, and that's what I remember most about our team — the camaraderie and the teammates.”
Darren says about a dozen players from 1979 are still in Blanchard, and the title team certainly hasn't been forgotten.
“We always get to ride at the front of the parade,” Darren joked. “But we'd be more than happy to turn that over to these guys.”