CLINTON — Kenny Stringer was just 12 years old in 1967 when the Roy Bell-led Red Tornadoes were dominating opponents.
He idolized the players on that unbeaten and state championship team, a club that also was proclaimed by one national publication as the best high school football team in the country.
“I think everybody in Clinton did,” said Stringer, now the principal at Clinton High School. “They were the best around or you thought they were the best around. They were your heroes.”
Clinton honored that 1967 team at halftime of the Red Tornadoes' football game Friday night against Elk City.
It was Clinton's second state championship team. The Red Tornadoes won their first state title in football in 1965. Clinton now owns 15 state football championships.
“This is a special place and it is a special place because of all the groups that have come before,” current Clinton coach Mike Lee said.
The 1967 Clinton team went 10-0 in the regular season then walked through the playoffs, defeating Guymon, 53-0, then Lindsay, 35-7, and finally beating Broken Bow, 34-6, in the state championship game.
Bell, who went on to play at the University of Oklahoma and in the Canadian Football League, was a senior on that team and a high school All-American.
He rushed for more than 6,000 yards in his career at Clinton and twice led the state in scoring and rushing.
“It was phenomenal the success we had,” said then-Clinton coach Jim Frazier, who now lives in Cushing. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
Thirteen players on that 1967 Clinton team played college football somewhere.
“We never thought we would lose,” said Denny Gabler, an offensive tackle and defensive end on the 1967 Red Tornadoes. “We had a lot of good guys, several superstars like Roy Bell and James Williams, just some guys who loved the game.”
Among the 1967 players who played collegiately was running back Randy Kiesau, who earned a scholarship to Wichita State University.
Kiesau was one of the 31 people killed in 1970 when a charter flight carrying members of the Wichita State football team crashed en route to its game at Utah State. He is one of five members of the 1967 team now deceased.
Kiesau's mom, Tommye, still lives in Clinton and represented her son at the game. Now 87, Kiesau said the 1967 season and team was very special to her son.
“He was very involved in football. That was his life,” Kiesau said. “He did not know what it was to lose.”
Gabler, 62, of Altus, was Kiesau's best friend. He named his son, Randy.
“I think about him all the time,” Gabler said.