In 1971, Jenks reached the state finals in football for just second time in school history. The Trojans lost to Watonga, 14-6, in the Class 2A state championship game.
Jenks was just a small rural school in Tulsa County at the time. It hardly could even be considered a suburb.
Since then, the population of Jenks and its schools has grown tremendously. Jenks is now the third-largest school in the state and its football program is a powerhouse with 12 state titles.
Could Deer Creek one day be another Jenks? There are certainly similarities. Deer Creek once was just a tiny rural school near Edmond.
Deer Creek was competing in Class A football when it first formed in 1976. By 1982, it had grown to Class 2A.
By 1996, it was in Class 3A and four years later the Antlers won their only state football championship.
In 2002, Deer Creek was reassigned to Class 4A. Four years later, the Antlers were playing 5A football.
Now, the second-ranked Antlers are contending for the Class 5A title and someday soon will be playing 6A football against the likes of Jenks.
“I see a lot of parallels,” Deer Creek coach Grant Gower said. “We are right on the edge of a metropolitan area like Jenks. Academically, Jenks is such a draw for people and it's the same thing here.”
When Gower became an assistant principal at the school 11 years ago, Deer Creek had one Little League football team.
Now, through the Deer Creek Optimist League, there are 11 teams of elementary school-age kids playing football, all using the same system of terminology the high school team does.
“It becomes a culture of ‘this is how you do things,”' Gower said. “That's where, in my opinion, that Jenks (football) originated. They've got numerous Little League teams that play as the Jenks Trojans.”
Deer Creek football coaches and players work with the Optimist League even though it is not directly associated with the school.
“That's how you do it,” Gower said. “That's how your successful programs are.”
And the Deer Creek student population increases every year, meaning there is a larger pool of athletic talent each year for coaches to choose from.
Deer Creek High School had 248 seniors graduate last year, but the school received 330 new freshmen this year, Gower said.
Deer Creek is now the 42nd largest school in the state, No. 10 in Class 5A, and probably will be reassigned to 6A in three years at the current rate.
The Antlers already have been participating in summer team camps and 7-on-7 leagues with 6A schools to get ready for the move.
Deer Creek scheduled a two-game series with Class 6A Edmond Memorial this season, and Gower said some Antler boosters were wondering why?
“In just a few years, that probably will be a district game for us,” he told them.
Perhaps Deer Creek one day will become the state's west side version of Jenks.
“That would be a number of years down the road, but hopefully, that's where it's heading,” Gower said.