STILLWATER — Ringling's Jackson Dillon remembers sitting with Taner Richardson and his grandfather about seven years ago.
“We'd be there and even when he was in fourth grade and him and his grandpa are sitting there drawing up football plays and watching SportsCenter,” Dillon said.
It was around that time that Richardson started dreaming of winning a state championship for Ringling.
Saturday, he accomplished that, turning in a huge game on both sides of the ball to give Ringling the Class A title with a 39-12 win over Wynnewood at Boone Pickens Stadium.
The reality of winning exceeded Richardson's expectations.
“It's better; it's better; it's way better,” said Richardson, comparing his dreams of the moment with the reality.
Richardson's grandfather, Bill Fincher, was among the large crowd from Ringling.
The win gave the Blue Devils their first state championship since 2003 and their fourth overall.
Ringling capped this one off in dominating fashion, with Richardson throwing for two touchdowns and running for another and intercepting a pair of passes.
Blue Devils coach Tracy Gandy had won titles as a player and an assistant coach at Ringling, but this was his first as head coach.
He remembers his experience playing for a title as a player
“That's what I wanted our kids to experience,” Gandy said. “Whether we won or lost this game, I was happy they were getting to experience something very few kids get to do. We've experienced it. A lot of our coaches have. But to see the smiles on those kids and see them rewarded, that's why we coach.”
Ringling's offensive output wasn't necessarily unexpected. The Blue Devils had scored at least 35 points in all but their first two games this season.
The surprise came on defense, where Ringling had allowed at least 20 points for five consecutive weeks.
But the Blue Devils bottled up Wynnewood's potent offense from the start, allowing the Savages (13-1) just three first downs in the first three quarters.
The Blue Devils intercepted Wynnewood quarterback Jace Brown three times and forced four turnovers overall.
“We expected to win but we didn't expect to win like that,” Ringling's Slade Stewart said.
The defense came up big early, stopping the Savages on a fourth down in Wynnewood territory early in the second quarter, leading 7-0.
Six plays later, Richardson hit Stewart for a 6-yard touchdown pass to put the Blue Devils up 13-0.
Ringling ended any chance of a Wynnewood comeback on Dillon's 67-yard touchdown run on fourth down with 5:04 left.
“Coach wanted to pass there but I said, ‘No, just give it to me,'” Dillon said. “I was just trying to get two yards there.”
Ringling lost its first game of the season in a blowout, 44-19 to Davis. But it then responded by reeling off 13 consecutive wins to get the gold ball.
“That loss made us realize that we had to get to work,” Richardson said. “It showed how far we needed to come, and it got us working toward that.”