Football heroes of the past reach out to present day Huskies
They were the warriors of yesterday.
Steel-filled muscles, unfettered joints, legs pumping up, down and forward like freshly-honed pistons, endless lungs and enough energy to climb the tail of a comet to touch the stars and rappel back to earth on a moonbeam.
For them, that was 60 years ago.
Despite the alterations of the natural process during the past six decades, a remarkable band of six men proved Friday night at Ormond Beach Memorial Stadium that the last thing to age is the heart.
They gathered — these boys of the 1960 Pawhuska High School football team — to make a special presentation to the boys of the 2020 Pawhuska High School football team. And, to all those boys to follow.
Hundreds of adoring Pawhuska High School fans acknowledging their delight to this special sextuple representing the 1960-61 semifinal team — halfback Bud Malone, fullback Jim Brazee, halfback Kenny Templeton, linebacker Jim Redwine, guard Chuck Drummond and guard David Williams.
On behalf of his teammates, Drummond presented a football — signed 60 years ago by the team, a ball thought lost forever until it was discovered a few years ago in a closet — to current Pawhuska Huskie head coach Matt Hennesy.
Drummond's offering of the white ball linked the past to the present — in more than one way.
Drummond's two grandsons, senior Bryce and sophomore Todd, are players for this year's Huskies' team, which is 10-0 and a favorite to contend for the state title.
Mason Gilkey, one of the top athletes of the 2020 team, is related to star halfback Wempsey Gilkey from the 1960 squad.
During a phone interview, Redwine characterized Wempsey as "our best player. He made All-State."
Current player John Reed is the grandson of Melvin Reed, a deceased member of the 1960 team, and John is the nephew of Ron Reed, who rediscovered the football in his brother Jim's closet. The ball had been on display in the former high school building, but in the move to the current school it had been misplaced.
Ron Reed brought the football's discovery to the attention of Redwine, who informed the school of its existence.
"Coach Matt Hennesy was very supportive for getting the 1960 team recognized," along with the school and school district administration, Redwine said.
That resulted in Friday's pre-game ceremony.
But, even though only six men were on hand to embody the accomplishment of that remarkable 1960 team, the six could feel strongly the presence of those since departed — or their loved ones.
In a twist of serendipity, Pawhuska also held Military Appreciation Night, including a flyover.
That created an especially touching moment for Malone.
He and his twin brothers, Garry and Jerry, all served in Vietnam.
Gary died in the fighting in 1966; Jerry has since passed away, and Bud has been challenged throughout his life with chemical damage from the war, Redwine said.
"It was nice that they honored the veterans the same time they honored the football team," he added.
If Redwine had to use just one word to describe his emotions Friday night, it would have been "home."
"You know, they say you can't go home again, but they're wrong," he said. "If you grow up in Pawhuska and Osage County, it's always your home. They still accepted all of us back. ... That felt really good by all of us. ... We were treated like royalty and if felt great."
The 1960 team reflected the values of grueling work ethic, toughness, grit, enjoyment of life and a strong core of loyalty reflected by the community.
"Usually we had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in every game," Redwine said.
"We didn't hardly win any of our games by a lot of points," Chuck Drummond recalled. "We didn't have a lot of players and our subs were a lot younger. The older ones played pretty much both ways."
But the team boasted some remarkable athletes, including quarterback Jay Hurt, who was a junior on the 1960 team. Hurt went into education and coaching for his career and served for many years in the 1990s as Dewey High's head football coach.
"Jay was the only high school All-American to come out of Pawhuska," Drummond said. "He was an outstanding quarterback and is a very outstanding individual."
Hurt missed Friday's ceremony because he was supporting his son, who is the head football coach at Claremore High, Redwine said.
Drummond — who never left the Pawhuska area, but remained as a rancher — has seen Hurt and a few other teammates during the years.
But he said he hadn't seen Malone or Brazee since high school days and hadn't encountered Williams since college.
"It just warmed my heart to see those guys," Drummond said.
He recalled the outstanding talent and athleticism of Brazee.
During that 1960 campaign, Pawhuska met Muskogee Manual and Brazee drew the call to run off-tackle.
"The defensive team couldn't stop him and all they got his shoes and he took off running 65 yards down the sideline bare-footed and made a touchdown."
The glue that held the team together consisted of coaches Alvin Duke and Jim Minor.
"They were tough," Drummond said. "If Jim told you something and you didn't do it, he'd grab you by the helmet and turn you around. You didn't talk back to them. They had the team's respect and they respected their players."
Drummond displayed that kind of ruggedness as at 5-foot-7, 170-pound offensive lineman. In the semifinal game against Seminole. Drummond had to play across from a player who measured 6-foot-7, 270 pounds.
He had been thinking prior to that game of playing junior college football — but settled on a different path afterward.
That loss to Seminole ended the remarkable 1960 season.
The highlight had been beating Claremore to win the Verdigris Valley Conference crown, Redwine said.
"They had been picked to win the conference all year and in every paper except for the Pawhuska Journal-Capital," he said. "Most of the predictions were they would beat us by two or three touchdowns, but we beat them by two touchdowns."
Pawhuska then beat Muskogee in the quarterfinals before losing to Seminole.
Then it was on to the rest of their lives and their different directions.
But, on Friday night, six of the surviving team members came back together on the site 60 years earlier to share once again its field of glory and its brotherhood unending.