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Carl Albert-Guthrie has become a must-see game

Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins helps re-energize rivalry
By Robert Przybylo, Staff Writer, bprzybylo@opubco.com Modified: October 12, 2010 at 11:53 pm •  Published: October 12, 2010

It all started with a kick.

In his first year as Guthrie coach, Rafe Watkins didn't make it a point of emphasis to beat Carl Albert. However, one kick served noticed to the Titans and the rest of Class 5A that there was a new superpower on the horizon.

Former Guthrie kicker Russell Rush connected on a 30-yard field goal with 17 seconds left to give the Bluejays a 23-22 victory in 2001. It was Guthrie's first victory against the Titans since 1991.

And since that 2001 game, you don't know what to expect when the Titans and Bluejays get together, but you know it's going to be something special.

"Just the name 'Carl Albert,' and you know. You know it's going to be big time," Guthrie senior Kentrell Brothers said. "Knowing how prestigious they are. They never have a down season. It's time to go to work."

It's been more than work — it's been about championships. The teams have combined for six of the last nine Class 5A state championships, and the Titans are the defending champions.

But how did this game reach this level? This insane frenzied week with so much electricity and intensity?

Geographically, these teams shouldn't be rivals. This isn't like a natural rivalry like you see in the greater Oklahoma City area involving the Norman, Moore, Edmond and Putnam City schools.

The schools aren't close to each other like Midwest City and Del City or Yukon and Mustang.

It is nearly 40 miles from Carl Albert High to Guthrie High. But that hasn't meant anything to either team's fan base as the visitors' bleachers are always standing-room-only when the two meet.

"For us, it's probably the biggest rivalry we've got," Carl Albert coach Gary Rose said. "It's friendly but intense. It's spread out into all the other sports, too. We love playing Guthrie, and we have the utmost respect for them."

One reason why Rose respects Watkins is because until recently, Watkins has had Rose's number.

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