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Collected Wisdom: Rafe Watkins, Guthrie football coach

Rafe Watkins has led Guthrie to two state championships. "When you go to Jelsma Stadium, or you put that helmet on with that "G" sticker, you're representing something special.
By Jason Kersey, Staff Writer, jkersey@opubco.com Modified: September 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm •  Published: September 17, 2011
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photo - Guthrie Head Coach Rafe Watkins watches his football team practice at Guthrie High School in Guthrie, OK, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010. Photo By Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman  PAUL HELLSTERN
Guthrie Head Coach Rafe Watkins watches his football team practice at Guthrie High School in Guthrie, OK, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010. Photo By Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman PAUL HELLSTERN

Rafe Watkins is one of the most successful high school football coaches in Oklahoma. He has led Guthrie to two state championships (2002, 2007) and the Class 5A playoffs in every season except one.

Watkins was raised in Prague, where he played for coach Carl Peters, and he played linebacker at Northwestern Oklahoma State under head coach Lee Brower. He has been Guthrie's head coach since 2001.

From the time I was in about seventh grade, I knew I wanted to be a coach. And I was blessed to have great high school coaches, and that followed me into college at Northwestern. I had a great group of coaches that surrounded me.

There are a lot of Northwestern guys out and about. Lance Manning (Edmond Santa Fe coach), Jeff Myers over at Kingfisher. We've got them everywhere from that team, and I think all of us would credit those guys for getting us prepared.

My first year at Guthrie, Carl Albert had won three state championships in a row — and they went on to win state that year also. But we beat them that year 23-22 at home on a last-second field goal, and that helped us realize here at Guthrie that we could compete against the big boys.

That first state championship in 2002 was the most memorable because nobody expected us to win. Each week it was like, ‘Hey, Guthrie's still in the playoffs.' In 2007, it was more relief after we won it, because after Week 2, everybody thought that we'd win it and anything less than a state championship would have been considered a letdown.

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