Three notable players from Oklahoma City Public Schools talk about their experiences and offer their opinions about high school football in the district:
GERALD McCOY"That’s the school I went to growing up, and I didn’t just want to change schools so I could win a game. That was my school, so I’m going to stick with my school. I have a lot of pride in any school I go to. "I don’t think Oklahoma City Public Schools get as much support as we should. I’m talking about the funding. We’re not as well funded as say an Ardmore would be or a Union. I don’t know why we’re not. "Southeast got rebuilt back in ’95, but compared to how they re-did Douglass and all these other schools, John Marshall ... maybe the funding thing is starting to change, but as far as my school goes, we haven’t rebuilt. "(The weight room renovation at Southeast) was Wes Welker coming in and doing something. It wasn’t the state or Oklahoma City doing that. Wes Welker came back and did that. That’s what I’m saying.” Gerald McCoy was USA Today’s national defensive player of the year as a senior at Southeast. Now, the Oklahoma junior is one of the best defensive tackles in college football.
ANTONIO SMITH"The thing that I remember most was the team, the guys you grew up playing ball with. Back then, the thing to do was play football. What I noticed over the years is that kids are not playing as much any more and they don’t want to make the sacrifice anymore to play. "There were a lot of barriers. I made a decision early in my mind that I was going to put it all into football. "I think what’s going to have to happen is for kids to open their eyes and look long term.” Antonio Smith was a first-team Big All-City honoree at John Marshall who became a standout defensive end at Oklahoma State. Last winter, he played in the Super Bowl with Arizona, and last spring, he signed a five-year, $35 million contract with Houston.
GEORGE WEST"You had some guys that unfortunately they couldn’t give up their job to play ball and they were forced to have a job after school. You had some guys who would find a little time for football and maybe leave practice a little bit early to get to a job. Then you had your players, of course, who decided to quit their job and try to make it work on the football field. Fortunately, I was blessed not to be in a situation like that, but there were situations like that all the time. "It was rough, but football isn’t the first thing in everybody’s life. It’s not the first option in everybody’s life. Sometimes you’ve got to put football on the back burner for other things. "You see city teams, they might come out with a good year or maybe a good two years, but it’s hard to find a program where it just continues to thrive. I think that’s one of the main issues in the city. "I feel like there’s a lot of talent. Oklahoma City Public Schools, I really feel like if you had people that could reach out to the kids and maybe get those kids out on the field, out of the neighborhoods and out of just hanging out, I really feel like it would be more productive. I see kids all the time ... great athletes that were just more interested in doing other things. If we had those small things like the booster clubs, if we had those small things like better facilities ... I really think it could make a difference. I think it could actually get them out there.” George West was twice a first-team Little All-City honoree at Northeast. He is now a senior reserve receiver at Notre Dame.