Today I am sharing with my readers the (unedited) preface to my book, “A Glory Denied: The Story of the 1967 Owensboro High School Football Team”. I am currently waiting for approval on some photos to be used in the book and other final touches before it goes through the editing and publishing process.
I am excited to share this story with others and hope this brief excerpt will spark interest in this remarkable team. Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments.
Thanks! Steve McFarland
Amor Fati – “Love your fate,” which is in fact your life.
A Glory Denied: The Story of the 1967 Owensboro High School Football Team
The noise from the big diesel engine drowned out the sound of conversations as the chartered bus made its way home. Cold raindrops created tiny streams of water on the windows and the worn down football players leaned their heads against the cold glass and watched the rivulets of moisture being pushed into random patterns by the cold November wind. Occasional light would pierce the darkness inside the bus as it carried the winning team home following their final game of the season. For the eighteen seniors the night was bittersweet. Their high school football careers were over and this, their final game seemed anti-climactic as no more than three hundred fans, the smallest crowd of the year, would witness this, their final victory. Who could blame fans for staying home on such a cold, miserable night? The game meant nothing in terms of standings or play-off implications. For these Owensboro (Kentucky) Red Devils, the final trip down US Highway 60 toward home would mean the end of what had been a remarkable season. The looming, inevitable end was a foreboding reality long before the season began, a dreaded moment they would all face, a foe they had no power to defeat.
Throughout their season, thoughts of this, their final game, cast a long, dark shadow on all their success. A year earlier, in a small office in Lexington, Kentucky, a man with authority to do so had determined that this game would be the Red Devils last for the 1967 season. Punished for a crime they did not commit, these players had no choice but to accept their fate. There would be no play-off, no possible chance at a state championship, no chance for glory. Their season would simply come to an end.
And that end had now arrived. As the red and white bus from the Fuqua Bus Lines rolled along bringing players and coaches home for the last time, thoughts of the season now completed began swirling in their minds. Nine wins against just one loss, a controversial loss to the eventual AAA state champion in front of a Louisville crowd estimated to be over 8,000. The Red Devils had dispatched of every other opponent on their schedule and had overpowered every AA school in their conference and class outscoring them 371 to 7. They would find little consolation being crowned Big Eight Conference Champions. They wanted more. For the rest of their lives, these players and their coaches wanted more.
It would not be lost on anyone, coaches or players, that a cross-town rival would be their replacement in the state playoffs. That thought was practically unbearable considering they had soundly defeated their fill-ins just a few weeks earlier. For a few players, basketball season would help them take their minds off the painful end of their football careers. One would be Isaac Brown, the dazzling running back who would soon learn he had been named a Parade Magazine high school All-American. Brown would find some solace on the hardwood as the basketball season would take his mind off of what might have been, perhaps what should have been. Several seniors would begin the recruiting process as their football careers would be continued in college. For the others, this final bus ride home would usher in a long, long winter.
The bus completed the brief, thirty-mile drive and turned into the school parking lot next to the darkened football stadium. Players and coaches began gathering their equipment and playbooks. There would be one final walk inside the locker room and the heart wrenching task of removing their soiled uniforms one final time. Players and coaches congratulated each other, thanked everyone for the remarkable season and slowly made their way home.
The 1967 football season was over. A team picture would find its place in the Owensboro High School hallway. A single trophy declaring them conference champs would squeeze out a spot in an already crowded trophy case. The uniforms would be washed and put away in anticipation of many football seasons to come. It was over.
The team had answered every question and taken on every challenge. There was little doubt that this team was the best class AA team in western Kentucky if not the entire state. Other teams would take their place in the state play-offs and one team would be crowned champions. It would not be Owensboro High School – that determination had been made twelve months before.
There would be, in the end, many questions, many opinions and speculations. Perhaps the most difficult would be the question of how this team would be remembered in history – or if they would be remembered at all.