STILLWATER — Carl Albert coach Gary Rose has had 10 teams play for state championships. Won nine of them. The Titans have 184 victories under Rose, with just 48 losses.
But standing at midfield at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday night, his back soaked from the celebratory water jug shower, he didn't hold back as he described just how incredible his team's 2012 football season had been.
The Titans started 1-5, then turned it around to win the final eight games, culminating with Saturday's 24-8 win over No. 1-ranked Tulsa East Central in the Class 5A state championship game. And they did it while watching their defensive coordinator, Mike Corley, grow weak as he fought cancer, then grow stronger as he defeated it.
“This is the most special win and the most special season in all my years of coaching, and that's nine state championships and a runner-up,” Rose said. “We've had some great groups of kids, some great coaches on my staff. But this is the most unbelievable thing, to see this happen in the last four weeks to our kids and our coaches.
“I'm stunned, I'm amazed. I'm thankful to God, for what he has done for our kids and our coaches, and especially for Mike, because he's healthy. He's healthy, and we've got a gold ball. That's the most unbelievable thing I can imagine.”
Only two other teams in the state's history have achieved anything similar to what Carl Albert accomplished in coming back from a 1-5 start to win a title.
In 1986, Tulsa Central started 0-5, then won nine straight games to take the 4A crown. And in 1988, Wynnewood was 1-6 before winning the last eight to claim the 2A championship.