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High schools: Rafe Watkins has built Guthrie into a Class 5A power

After a period of little success on the football field, Watkins arrived and brought success with him.
by Jacob Unruh Published: December 15, 2013

Kai Callins remembers the first state championship Guthrie won in 2002.

He was 6, but it was also the moment he started realizing the importance of football for the school and community.

After a period of little success on the football field, a second-year coach named Rafe Watkins had brought success with him.

Watkins and the Bluejays won their fourth Class 5A title in 13 years Saturday, routing No. 2 McAlester 51-21 and continuing dominance in the class.

“For years and years they were having great seasons consistently,” Callins said about the time during Watkins' tenure. “Just the way he's turned this program around has been amazing.”

Guthrie has missed the playoffs just once since Watkins was named coach in 2001.

More importantly, the Bluejays now have the reputation of being a Class 5A power.

It's just maintaining that dominance that worries Watkins.

“It's been an incredible ride up here,” he said. “The kids have been outstanding for us. I had somebody ask about tradition awhile back, and I guess we got it finally started in 2001 by making the playoffs.

“It's harder to stay on the top then it is to want to get there. I've always asked (Carl Albert) Coach (Gary) Rose how in the world does he do that year after year after year because it's tougher to do than what people realize.”

Rose said that's the toughest challenge, but he's been impressed with what Watkins has done in Guthrie.

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by Jacob Unruh
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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