AFTON — The road to the Class B semifinals for the 1948 Afton Eagles included wins against Jenks and a Billy Vessels-led Cleveland Cardinals team.
The road to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association Class A semifinals for the 2016 Afton Eagles included close wins over Cashion and Minco.
The ’48 Eagles saw their season come to an end with a 27-13 loss to Okemah.
The 2016 Eagles hope to carry things a step further when they face top-ranked Hominy at 7 p.m. Friday at Owasso High School.
A handful of players off that ’48 team are still alive: Henry Frellick, Kenneth Branson, Dale Dawson, John Helms, Stanley Kirk and Robert Greninger.
The Eagles were 9-1 during the regular season, winning District B-13 and Lucky 7 Conference titles.
They won the first three games of the season 18-7 over Ketchum and 18-12 against Commerce, and then blanked Picher 14-0.
The following week was their lone regular-season setback, 20-0 against Miami.
Afton finished the regular season with wins over Wyandotte (12-0), Grove (13-7), Fairland (20-0) Quapaw (34-8) and Chelsea (26-7).
“I can’t say we bragged about being able to do that…we just hoped that we were good enough,” Frellick said.
The 1948 season played under Oklahoma High School Athletic Association’s playoff format (the organization’s name would be changed to OSSAA in 1962).
Jenks — now a large school powerhouse in Oklahoma football — faced the Eagles in the first round of post-season play.
The teams battled to a 14-14 tie, but Afton advanced with a 14-11 edge in first downs.
The following week, the Eagles routed Cleveland 33-6. Vessels would go on to become the University of Oklahoma’s first Heisman Trophy winner.
“We decided to watch him real close the night we played them,” Frellick said.
Okemah ended the Eagles season with a 27-13 decision.
The Panthers fell to Watonga the following week in the championship game.
Frellick said there were no standouts on the team, which had a roster of only 18 players.
“Several of them had to have a good season in order to have a winning season,” Frellick said. “We beat Grove, Commerce (which featured Mickey Mantle), Wyandotte – all three that had a higher ranking than us. We just had a good team.”
Back then, teams were much more run oriented, unlike today’s spread offenses where some teams have a 50-50 ratio of run vs. pass.
“We didn’t have very good success at passing,” Frellick said. “We had a few passes, but it wasn’t anything big.”
Gene Wolf was the Eagles coach — their only coach.
“He was easy to get along with, but he meant business about what he tried to teach us,” Frellick said.
Frellick said he follows the current Eagles.
“I went to these playoff games, but I don’t think my health will let me go to the one Friday,” Frellick said.
He’s impressed with the 1-2 tandem of quarterback Wil Amos and running back Gunner Hudson.
“They are good players and they work well together,” Frellick said. “They don’t try to do things just by themself. It’s a team effort. I think that’s the reason they’ve been successful.”