SPERRY – The night was cold, almost below freezing, and Sperry High School’s football team stood on the field looking across it at their opponents the Minco Bulldogs. It was the 1968 State Championship game and it was Sperry’s chance to win the vied for golden ball. David Payne, a football player on that Sperry team, remembers the day fondly but with tears in his eyes.
“Everyone has moments in their life that they’re so close to getting what they want,” Payne said, remembering back to the devastating loss Sperry suffered in the state game. “That they have worked so hard for, and when they don’t, it’s a long bus ride back home.”
The Sperry Pirates had been doing well all season in ‘68 and it came down to the championship game, but the Minco Bulldogs pulled a screen pass for a touchdown, establishing a lead that would get them a 35-14 win, Payne said.
Now almost 50 years later, the Sperry Pirates are back in the running for the state championship title. The Pirates are slated to play Thursday night in Owasso against the Beggs Golden Demons, hoping to finally tack on the title of state champions.
“This is really a surreal moment,” Payne said. “Lots of stuff going on Facebook, on messenger and people bantering back and forth. People that still remember those days.”
The same players who had experienced the 1968 championship game are back in town to see the 2018-2019 Sperry High School football team return to the same stage and title they had come close to in ’68. The game hadn’t really been on Payne’s mind until the team he had played for had made it back once again to the state championship, and players on the ’68 team began to reminisce about high school.
“I don’t know how much I thought about it until I retired after 30 years and a Sperry time has gone back,” Payne said. “And I start communicating again with these guys that were on that team and I think ‘Man, we were one game away from having a gold ball’ that’s how close we were.”
When asked what he would say to the current Sperry High School team, Payne said ‘There are no do overs.’
Sperry is set to play against Beggs 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6 at the Owasso High School football stadium. The Pirates are currently 13-1 for the season, a record shared by their opponents the Beggs Golden Demons. The team’s one loss game was before the first round of playoffs and was a close 35-21 battle against the same team they’ll see on the field Thursday night.