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NAX: Old Bronchos still have good memories -- and pride - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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NAX: Old Bronchos still have good memories -- and pride

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Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 12:00 am

So last week, I had a chance to — as my dad used to say — renew hostilities with a one-time coworker who left Odessa for greener pastures about a quarter of a century ago.

The occasion was a friendly lunch with colleagues in print journalism in San Antonio. The group included one Bruce Davidson, the editorial page editor at the San Antonio Express-News. We raised a little hell together back in the day when he was a reporter at the Odessa American. In fact, we’re both certified members of the McLeaish School of Diplomacy. You had to be recommended for membership by attorney Michael McLeaish due to some obnoxious public display, usually aggravated by liberal doses of alcoholic beverage. Membership also included permission to wear the official catcher’s mask and protective cup.

Anyway, the last time I saw Davidson was in Arlington, Va., when he was manning the Washington bureau for the Express-News and I was attending a corporate seminar. He came over to hear a couple of the speakers.

So the first words out of his mouth were: “Is it true that OHS finally has a better football team than Permian this year?”

Oh, and I forgot to mention he’s a Broncho grad.

But that does lend credence to the importance of football in the greater scheme of things. Davidson hasn’t been to Odessa in decades, has no family here anymore and obviously has bigger fish to fry. But he still has time to be aware of what is happening on Ratliff Stadium turf.

I confirmed that Odessa High’s team was on a roll, a fact reaffirmed the following Friday when OHS wrapped up its first outright district championship since 1964.

No doubt, there are many more proud former Bronchos out there who are enjoying the 2009 success after lots of frustration for a lot of seasons. No one would begrudge them some puffing of the chest and vocal deployment of bragging rights.

In fact, despite some missteps by the crosstown Permian Panthers, 2009 is another good season for the Friday night heroes in all of Odessa. For the second straight year, both teams are advancing to the playoffs, something that never had happened until last season.

But OHS has the biggest prize and that’s a source of pride shared by nationally renowned singer Larry Gatlin, the 1964 quarterback, and all his teammates. In fact, back then only one team from a very competitive district advanced to the playoffs.

But this also could serve as a cautionary tale. After winning district the 1964 team promptly lost in the first round to, gasp, an El Paso team. And that was followed by the firing of a district-winning OHS coaching staff.

Achievement is indeed great for the pride factor, but those with historical perspective might want to point the current Broncho team to an even older accomplishment.

The 1946 OHS team — quarterbacked by a kid who also went on to earn national prominence, legendary college coach Hayden Fry — brought home the school’s only football state championship.

Hey, wouldn’t something like that really have the old Broncho network buzzing?

Odessa, TX

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