“I would go by the stadium and they'd be up there, numerous times, throwing on the turf,” said Enid assistant principal Tommy Parker, who was Clint's prep coach. “Clint throwing into a quarterback net, mom snapping, Colton running routes. It was kind of a neat deal to see.”
But for what? There were no promises from Monken of a renewed quarterback competition. And there would be few opportunities to prove himself in practices, with the bulk of the work going to Lunt and Walsh.
“The first part of it was a little tough, a little disappointing in the spring,” said Randy Chelf. “It was a long summer and a long fall, just watching him go through it. It's part of life. You've got to learn to deal with adversity. But it was tough watching him go through it.
“It eats you up to go through it as a parent. He never said a lot, but you could tell at times when he was really quiet. The day they announced it, I went over and saw him, visited with him. I just told him, ‘Things happen for a reason. Keep working hard and hopefully your day would come.'
“I didn't know if it would come, after we got going into the season. It looked like a long ways away for a while.”
And now, it's on, full frontal intense.
After the K-State game, Chelf started against West Virginia and Texas Tech, directing victories in both games. Then the choo-choo thing broke, started by a fan who, in fun, pretended to be Chelf boasting, with a bit of profanity, about climbing aboard the train.
Clint and Colton were sitting together at home, each following Twitter, when the link popped onto their screens.
“All of a sudden, we saw it at the same time,” Colton said, “looked at each other and started laughing.”
Way out of character for Chelf, which only added to the quirkiness, the “Choo Choo” nonetheless sprang a life of its own, quickly embraced by teammates and others.
“I saw it on Twitter and it just kind of blew up after that,” said receiver Isaiah Anderson. “I've seen people with conductor hats on and train whistles. It's ridiculous, but I'm happy that he's kind of getting out there like that. And I'm pretty sure he's enjoying it, too.”
“Whatever train he's driving,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, “I'm getting on.”
Then there are the T-shirts, which proclaim “CHOO! CHOO!” in white letters, with an orange 10 — Chelf's jersey number — attached to the H.
“I like the shirts. It's a neat idea,” said Colton, admitting that he, too, has one and plans to wear it to Norman on Saturday.
“It's exciting,” Clint said. “I grew up in Oklahoma. Playing against them, it'll be fun.
“There were a lot of times when I said, ‘I hope that can be me someday.'”
Suddenly, Clint is realizing all sorts of somedays.
“For the thing to fall the way it did,” Parker said, “it's kind of a fairy tale story, really. But he's certainly making good on it.”