Why Guthrie's Jelsma Stadium is the Oklahoma City area's best high school football venue

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL — Welcome to “The Rock,” a stadium built during the Great Depression in the heart of Guthrie that remains near and dear to those who call it their home turf.
By Jason Kersey, Staff Writer, jkersey@opubco.com Published: November 2, 2011
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GUTHRIE — On the south side of Harrison Street, just east of Division, the top of a sandstone wall peaks a few feet above street level.

That 30-foot wall, which has given Jelsma Stadium its nickname — “The Rock” — creates the north boundary for the Oklahoma City area's best high school football stadium.

Jelsma Stadium, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, doesn't have artificial turf. It doesn't have a Jumbotron.

But what it does have can't be expressed in dollars, cents and flash.

“I talk to a lot of Texas people, and they say ‘Oh, my stadium is so big,'” said Kye Staley, a junior fullback at Oklahoma State who starred for Guthrie High School.

“And I'm like, ‘Well, we've got the No. 1 unique stadium in the nation. You can't top that.'”

The sandstone wall keeps noise inside the stadium, making it extremely loud during exciting games.

Guthrie football coach Rafe Watkins said this year's shoot-out with Carl Albert — the Bluejays won 38-35 at Jelsma — is a perfect example of what it's like to be there during an intense football game.

“It's standing room only,” Watkins said.

“I truly believe that was the loudest I've ever heard it in there.

“We realize it's not like when Jenks and (Tulsa) Union play and there are 20,000 or 25,000 people in the stadium. We had about 6,500.

“But the noise coming off the rock wall keeps it in there. The fans are right there on you on the sideline. It's like an arena game.”

The stadium's other unique feature is that the football field and Guthrie's baseball field share grass.

During baseball season, the south goal post is removed, and a temporary fence is added at about the 35-yard line to complete Squires Field.

Over the years, hundreds of Guthrie boys have played both football and baseball in what is essentially the same stadium. One of them was Phil Stephenson, a 1978 Guthrie graduate who played four Major League Baseball seasons with the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres.