WICHITA FALLS — Among the players headed to small colleges, big universities or no school at all, three local football players took the field at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night for the 76th Oil Bowl.
For the Aubrey duo of Bry’len Williams and Matt Davis and Argyle’s Jordan Deagen, it was a final opportunity to play high school football, even if the game counted for nothing more than regional pride.
The Denton-area trio joined the East Texas All-Stars in the Oil Bowl, the longest-running high school football all-star game in the nation. East Texas erased an 11-point deficit to pull off a 22-17 victory over the West Texas All-Stars.
Deagen, who is headed to Texas Lutheran, said the victory was just an added bonus to the weeklong event.
“It’s awesome,” Deagen said of the all-star game. “I met some good friends. We had a good time. When we weren’t practicing, we were all hanging out together.
“The winning part of it was just a bonus.”
East Texas running back and former Wylie East standout Jabari Anderson carried the ball 24 times and set an Oil Bowl record with 187 rushing yards. Anderson, a Tarleton State-bound back, broke the record set in 1976 by Freddie Hurd of Ardmore (Okla.).
Anderson was named the game’s Offensive MVP. East Texas linebacker and Van Alstyne star Alex Cole was the game’s Defensive MVP after notching eight tackles, including 4 1/2 tackles for loss.
Attendance for the historic contest was estimated to be about 3,500. This year’s matchup was the first time since 1961 that a team of Texas all-stars did not face an all-star team of Oklahoma athletes. It was the ninth time in the game’s history that the two states did not square off.
East Texas wiped away a 17-13 halftime deficit and closed the game by scoring 16 unanswered points. Former Amarillo running back Josh Woods excelled for West Texas and rushed for 92 yards on 14 carries.
East Texas representative and former Sherman standout J.T. Luper had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first half on what turned out to be the most explosive play of the contest. Luper’s touchdown sparked the parade of points that propelled East Texas to the victory.
Joining the area representatives on the field was Keller’s Cody Nelson, who signed with North Texas. Nelson saw significant time at left tackle for the East Texas team.
Nelson was one of six Football Bowl Subdivision athletes to participate in the exhibition game.
Notable Oil Bowl alumni include current Philadelphia Eagles running back Felix Jones, current Baylor head coach Art Briles and Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Largent.
“It was a big part of my mindset for this game, for me to come out and play the best I can, knowing the history behind this and knowing how big of a big deal this is,” Davis said.
Williams said he enjoyed the level of competition the all-star game provided.
The contest was sponsored by the Maskat Shrine of Wichita Falls and Under Armour. The proceeds from the event benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children.
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.