National title still special for Oklahoma coach

Former Lawton Ike Head Coaches Tim Reynolds, Bill Whiteley and Clarence MacKillip

By Michael Kinney

On June 6th former coach Tim Reynolds was at a place he hoped he’d never have to be. He attended the memorial of Phillip Kinney, one of his former players from his 1990 state and National Championship winning team at Lawton Eisenhower. While it was a somber moment for the almost 200 people in attendance, what Reynolds saw gave his heavy heart a little lift.

Teammates such as Matt Parker, Fred Thomas, Chris Bridges, Chris Pollard, Tyrone Rochon, Aaron Malloy, Maurice Mayfield and Jamar Workman came out to pay their respects to Kinney. It let Reynolds know that the family ties that were built during that miraculous season are still holding strong 26 years later.

“I was thoroughly pleased to see everybody there at Phillip’s funeral,” Reynolds said. “I hated the situation. But I was really pleased to see so many of his teammates showed up, some from a long ways off. It was so good to see a bunch of those guys and to see a bunch of people who had done well. It just really makes my heart feel good. I really can’t explain it. Coaching was passion for me. I probably supported my kids to a fault. I say that sincerely. It doesn’t matter how bad I got up in their (butts), I didn’t want anybody else doing it. It’s very rewarding seeing them.”

With 27 years and four head coaching stints under his belt, Reynolds will be inducted in the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame July 23 in Tulsa. His stops include Paul’s Valley, Chickasha and one year Noble. He also spent time as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State.

“My career was very rewarding in so many ways,” Reynolds said. “When I coached, I don’t even consider it an occupation. I consider it a passion. It totally consumed me. I sincerely enjoyed my relationships with the kids. I think anybody whoever played for me knew that you were going to do things right, and give good effort or you weren’t going to play. I didn’t give a dang how big or small, black, white, purple, yellow. I didn’t really give a damn how much money your momma had. If you played for me I think you pretty well understood you are going to have to perform in order to get on the field. I was always proud of that.”

But it was Reynolds’ four years at Lawton Eisenhower that will be attached to his name in the annals of Oklahoma high school sports history. In that span he racked up a 40-11 record, four playoffs appearances, two trips to the Class 5A state title game, one state title and the mythical 1990 USA Today National Championship.

As Reynolds prepares for his hall of fame induction, the memories of that title run have not dimmed.

“What I remember the most of the championship year is that everybody went ‘OK, we got it,’” Reynolds said. “We understand. That’s what I remember the most that you guys understand what we had a chance to do. I know we came out as No. 2 at the first of the year, then the No. 1 team (Berwick, Pa.) in the nation lost. From that point on, somebody was going to have to be really, really good to beat us.”

Unlike today where coaches have to fight and plead at some programs to get players to even show up for summer workouts, Reynolds said he didn’t have that problem with at Eisenhower.

“It wasn’t just the players. The coaches should be commended to,” Reynolds said. “I’m not talking me. I’m talking about all the coaches. We demanded there was summer weights. We demanded this and we demanded that. But the coaches were more than happy. The coaches kind of ran a bus route going and rounding people up in the summer every day. But we got them there and it paid off.”

During that season, the Eagles finished the year 14-0 and outscored opponents 482-110. Running the veer offense and a 50-front defense, the coaching staff allowed the players talents to flourish.

That included a sophomore that year named Raymond Austin, who went on to play football at Tennessee before playing three years in the NFL with the New York Jets and Chicago Bears.

“He pushed us and pushed us hard,” Austin said of Reynolds. “A lot of my work ethic comes from that year. Coach made me really feel I could play at the next level. He wanted you to shine. He was happy about your success.”

However, it was Reynolds first season at Eisenhower that set the tone for the history they would accomplish two years later. In 1988 Reynolds and his staff led Eisenhower to the state title game against the Midwest City Bombers and quarterback Cale Gundy, who went on to play and coach at Oklahoma.

The Eagles had the lead late in the fourth quarter until Gundy led the Bombers 80 yards on a game-winning drive to secure a 31-27 victory.

“The Midwest City game, that was a heart breaker,” Reynolds said. “I thought we had that one. We were 1:08 seconds short. They (MWC) had a wonderful football team. So did we. We were kind of the “where did they come from” team that year. But I thought that probably built the foundation for us to go on and be the only high school team in Oklahoma history to be a national champion. I think we got a taste of it then. I think the work ethic was developed at that time.”

While the upperclassmen in that game included the likes of Butch Husky, Joe Brown, Kevin Crutchmer, Maurice Davenport, Sylvester Keith and Bryan Lewis, it was that sophomore crew that Reynolds knew he could build something unique with.

“It was very special,” Reynolds said. “What I remember the most from you guys is that we worked hard. I still remember when seeing Phillip and Dwight (McFadden), Maurice (Mayfield), Freddy (Thomas), Matt (Parker) and those guys as sophomores. And it just intrigued me. Cause we had such unbelievable talent.”

The biggest game of the 1990 season was the season ender with Putnam City North. Both teams came into the contest undefeated at 9-0 and ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the state.

The Panthers, who had to travel to Cameron Stadium in Lawton for the prime time matchup, took a 14-0 lead before the Eagles stormed back to win 21-14.

They went through Putnam City West, Del City and Enid before making it to the state championship game. Waiting on them were the Panthers again.

However, with everything they worked for within their grasp, Eisenhower didn’t allow Putnam City North to make a game of it. EHS won 35-7 to claim the schools only state title and the state’s second national championship. The first since Oklahoma City Capitol in 1933.

“Everyone that suits up in a football uniform dreams of a season like we had in 1990,” said Parker, who is a strength coach at TCU. “We as players knew we had a special group, from winning the football championship in ninth grade to several of us starting as sophomores and competing at a high level, we knew that by the time we became seniors we’d be a force in the state of Oklahoma… Who would have thought that others would take notice and rank our team as the nations best.”

When Reynolds goes into the Hall of Fame, he said it won’t be him just him being memorialized. It will be all the coaches he worked with and all the players he ever led in his 27 years. That includes the national championship team, which still hold special place in his heart to this day.

“I was just a small part of a very big deal. We had great talent. But there are lots of people that have great talent,” Reynolds said. “I think we the coaches got it out of the kids. I thought the kids took great pride. Every body took ownership of the program, which was wonderful. Stop and think about it, really. We didn’t have any problem getting people there for summer weights. We didn’t have a problem with people skipping practice. Everybody knew what it was going to take. I thought it was a pretty good brotherhood. I really did.”

Story first appeared in Vype.com

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