Ask a high school football fan in eastern Oklahoma what the best high school football game ever is and odds are they’ll bring up the Jenks-Union regular-season classic in 2000.
How could an early-season game with literally nothing at stake besides bragging rights outrank any of the state championship games the two teams played against each other?
Both teams were ranked in the top 25 nationally at the time and the game certainly lived up to the hype. Union jumped out to a big lead, Jenks made a furious second-half comeback, and three touchdowns were scored in the game’s final two minutes, with the lead changing hands each time.
Union scored a touchdown with just 21 seconds remaining in the game to go ahead 37-34 and many Jenks fans began filing out of Skelly Stadium. The Trojans would only need one play to regain the lead, however, as they scored on an incredible 80-yard pass play from quarterback Scott McCoy to Kejuan Jones, who caught the ball over the middle, headed towards the sideline, and outran Redskin defenders for his fifth touchdown of the game to cap off the miraculous finish.
“People still talk about it to this day,” admitted McCoy, who quarterbacked Jenks to state titles in 1999 and 2000. “They always mention that play. When they find out who I am, they say ‘I was at that game or I remember watching it on tv.’ It comes up a lot more than you would think after 20 years.”
“It was one of the more exciting games I’ve been a part of, for sure,” reminisced then-Union head coach Bill Blankenship, who’s now the head coach at Owasso. “It was obviously a shocking loss at the end. The game itself was an unbelievable game to be a part of, both for fans and for coaches. It just went back and forth and back and forth. There were just an enormous number of big plays during that night.”
“Thanks for reminding me,” quipped former Union defensive coordinator Steve Spavital when told about the 20th anniversary of the classic game. “It was just an amazing play by a good young man.”
What most fans don’t know is that the winning play almost didn’t happen. Head coach Allan Trimble wasn’t sure about the play call and almost shot it down.
“I remember Trim saying something to me and I said he’s got the hot hand,” stated McCoy about Jones. “You can see me in the huddle. I drew it up on his chest. He had never been out in the slot before.”
Jones’ memorable touchdown run has more than 11,000 views on YouTube and King’s call as he streaked down the sideline – ‘Uh oh, uh oh! Somebody better catch him. I don’t believe what I’ve just seen! I do not believe what has just happened!’, is still recited often by Jenks fans.
“All the time,” laughed King in regards to fans bringing up his memorable call. “It’s kind of stuck all these years.”
“I know a lot of people that have covered high school sports for years,” added King. “They all claim, and I agree with them, that it’s probably the best high school football game of all time.”
“I would put it at the top,” claimed King. “I think Jenks has beaten Union four times with less than a minute and a half remaining over the last 20 years and Union has had a couple of them themselves, but that one undoubtedly is the best game of all time.”
“It has to be one of the best,” claimed Spavital, who went on to become the head coach at Broken Arrow for four seasons. “Number one was the number of fans. It was old Skelly and it was just an outstanding atmosphere. It was a great game that went down to the final play.”
“There’s no doubt it stands head and shoulders apart,” said McCoy, who’s now an insurance broker in Tulsa. “That game has kind of formed a life of its own. To this day, 20 years later, people are still talking about it.”
Another interesting fact many may not be aware of is that McCoy separated his shoulder early in the game. Fortunately for Jenks, Jones had a career night with more than 300 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns.
“That’s true,” admitted McCoy. “I think it was somewhere in the second quarter. I ran the ball and got hit, and I didn’t know it at the time, I thought it was just a stinger. I didn’t practice the following week leading up to the Broken Arrow game.”
Although the game gets brought up regularly to McCoy, he hasn’t had the opportunity to re-watch the game that often.
“I’ve got an eight-year-old and he was messing around with the iPad a while back and he was searching on YouTube and stumbled across it. That’s probably the last time I watched any of it.”
Jenks and Union revive their rivalry this week in the Ford Game of the Week when the two teams square off Friday night, September 11th at Jenks. While none of this year’s participants were even born prior to the 2000 classic, this year’s matchup promises to be another highly anticipated contest.
The rivalry game, now dubbed the Backyard Bowl, will be played at Jenks for the first time since 1998 and broadcast live on YurView (Cox channel 3 in Tulsa and channel 93 in Oklahoma City) at 7:30 pm CT or watch the game online.