Pawhuska High football icons among 102 years of All-Staters

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

One hundred football seasons ago, Pawhuska High School had its first player selected for Oklahoma All-State honors when John Hirt was named as right guard on the 1915 squad.

It was only the third year for the Daily Oklahoman newspaper to name an All-State prep squad. The first had been announced on Dec. 7, 1913, just a few months prior to the start of World War I. (Also, coincidentally, exactly 28 years to the day before the Pearl Harbor attack in WWII.)

Hirt served in the U.S. Army during the first World War and, reportedly, lived into his 70s. He is buried in the Pawhuska City Cemetery.

The Oklahoman’s initial All-State choices included four Oklahoma City players, three each from Tulsa and Norman and another out of Shawnee. One of the Norman picks, fullback John Baumgarner (or Bumgarner), was the uncle of future TV/movie actor James Garner.

Pawhuska also landed a player, right halfback John Comstock, on the 1915 All-State Second Team. Comstock was elevated to first-team status in 1916, when he was joined by his All-State younger brother, tackle Rudy Comstock. PHS added a pair of 1916 second-teamers in guard William Marion and fullback Harold Burt. Another member of the Comstock family earned one of Pawhuska’s next All-State selections. Charles Comstock, a tackle, was named to the Oklahoman’s third team in 1921, along with halfback teammate George Beaulieu.

Rudolph S. Comstock, who was born in 1900 and died in 1975, played 11 professional seasons with five NFL franchises — including the Canton Bulldogs, New York Giants and Green Bay Packers. He also had been head coach of the Pittsburgh Americans pro team. Comstock was on four NFL champion squads and was an All-Pro selection in 1923, 1926 and 1930. In a legendary exhibition game played Dec. 26, 1927, at Pawhuska, where the semi-professional Hominy Indians defeated the New York Giants, Rudy Comstock suited up for the NFL reigning champions — even though he was technically a member of the Frankford Yellow Jackets.

PHS guard Fred Miles made the All-State Second Team for 1926. The next first-team All State selection from Pawhuska was Ormand “Dilly” Beach, who was named as fullback of the 1928 squad. A nephew of John and Rudy Comstock, Beach went on to earn All-Conference honors at the University of Kansas, where he studied petroleum engineering. He played rugby/football in Canada as a member of the Sarnia (Ontario) Imperiels, a squad sponsored by the oil company for which he worked. Beach helped his team win two Grey Cup titles before being killed in a refinery explosion a few days prior to the start of his fifth pro season. Pawhuska’s current football stadium, which was under construction when he died, would later be named in his memory.

Other All-State honorees from Pawhuska High include:

1930: Leonard McFee, fullback.

1931: James Schneider, center (third team).

1936: tackle George Dunlap.

1937: Damon “Doc” Renfro, second-team) back.

1938: center Frank Capps.

1939: ends Kenneth Spence and Ted Brunt.

1943: Doyle Monger, tackle.

1944: tackle Bob Greggs.

1946: John Bilyeu, tackle.

1947: end Louie Surber.

1950: Cloy Easley, end.

1955: back Tommy Cotton.

1960: Wempsey Gilkey, end-halfback.

1961: quarterback Jay Hurt.

1964: Jim Hunt, tackle/fullback.

1968: Duke Atterberry.

1983: Logan Pendergraft.

1999: Kevin Kemp, linebacker (3rd team).

Zalin Edwards of PHS was selected to participate as a replacement in the 2014 Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State Game. Other selections from the last two decades were not readily available. Apologies for all other omissions, as well.

Additional All-Staters from Osage County have included:

1919: Emmett Foley, Fairfax quarterback (2nd team); 1920: QB (2nd team) Box of Nowata; halfback William Fly of Fairfax (2nd team); 1921: Fairfax guard Quilter; 1923: guard Lester Graham of Hominy and Fairfax end Lee McMahan (3rd team); 1925: Ward Lynn of Fairfax, halfback (2nd team); 1929: end (second team) Claude Richardson of Fairfax and halfback (3rd team) Leonard (Pee Wee) McFee of Hominy; 1932: Lester Graham of Hominy, guard; 1937: Don Witcraft, center, Fairfax; 1938: Fairfax tackle Tommy Tallchief; 1939: center Wayne Adams of Hominy.

Also, 1940: Wheeler Gayton, Hominy; 1942: . guard Tom Cox of Hominy; 1943: William Kongable from Hominy; 1943: end Bill Long of Hominy; 1950: guard John Murrell, Fairfax; 1955: Don Eubanks, Fairfax, tackle; 1956: guard Berry Harrison, Fairfax; 1957: end Fred Dobbins of Hominy; 1958: tackle Curt Dobbins, Hominy 17 6-0 220; halfback Dwayne Parent, Fairfax; 1959: back Ken Rader of Hominy; 1960: fullback Harry Red Eagle, Hominy.

And, 1962: halfback Richard Dunlap of Skiatook; 1965: Bob Plummer of Hominy, tackle; Ken Mendenhall, Enid (formerly of Pawhuska), center; Coach of the Year: Alvin Duke of Enid, formerly from Pawhuska; 1970: Hominy end Jess Hudson; 1973: halfback Aaron Crawford, Hominy; 1974: halfback Jack Taylor, Skiatook, and linebacker Mike Dean of Hominy; 1975: Johnny Scott, Fairfax, split end; 1985: split end Joe Witcher and quarterback Mike Gundy, both Midwest City (the ex-Pawhuska athletic director caught passes from the current Oklahoma State coach; 1989: Scott Harmon, defensive back, Hominy.