High school football: Clinton honors 1967 team that was proclaimed high school national champions

Clinton honored the 1967 team, which was proclaimed by one publication as the best high school football team in the country. Thirteen players on that team played college football somewhere, including Roy Bell and Randy Kiesau, who died in the Wichita State plane crash.
by Ed Godfrey Published: October 19, 2012
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photo - Former University of Oklahoma great Roy Bell, center, and the rest of the 1967 state championship high school football team from Clinton is recognized Friday night at halftime of the Clinton-Elk City football game at the Tornado Bowl. Photo by Ed Godfrey, The Oklahoman
Former University of Oklahoma great Roy Bell, center, and the rest of the 1967 state championship high school football team from Clinton is recognized Friday night at halftime of the Clinton-Elk City football game at the Tornado Bowl. Photo by Ed Godfrey, The Oklahoman

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.

by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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