By KOLBY PAXTON
Bill Scott couldn’t have known that he would come to lead a football legacy spanning multiple generations. Growing up in Stilwell, he’d never even seen a game.
“The first football game I ever saw, I played in,” said Scott. “We didn’t have a television. I went to a country school with 32 kids, and we didn’t play football. We played a lot of basketball. I thought I was a basketball player.”
Stilwell High football coach Francis Wheeler saw things a little differently.
“I didn’t go out for football,” said Scott. “I played basketball. But in those days, they had two coaches; one coached football and one coached basketball. One day, during study hall, coach Francis Wheeler came to me and said, ‘How come you aren’t playing football?’ I said, ‘I’m a basketball player.’ And he said, ‘You can’t play basketball if you don’t play football.’”
With that ultimatum, a legend was born.
Playing tackle and end, Scott was a star on the gridiron, eventually garnering the attention of Frank Broyles and the University of Arkansas.
“I played under a lot of great coaches, Broyles, Jim Mackenzie, Barry Switzer, Merv Johnson, Joe Gibbs was a GA, Mike Shanahan was a GA,” he said. “There were a lot of great coaches over there.”
An all-star assembly of leaders to be sure, Scott was exposed to Switzer, in particular, before he became “The King” of Sooner lore.
“Switzer was my coach on the freshman team,” said Scott. “Freshmen weren’t eligible. You had your own field. We had 77 freshmen there my year. Those were the days of unlimited scholarships. He was a graduate assistant there, then the next year he was a scout team coach, and the next he was an assistant coach. He was as good a guy as he was a coach.”
In 1964, during what would have been his senior season in Fayetteville, Ark., the Razorbacks won the school’s first and only football national title, but Scott was elsewhere.
After two seasons at Arkansas, he momentarily hung up the spikes and moved home. Once the coaching staff at Northeastern State caught wind of his availability, they sent Scott’s wife, Terry, to recruit him.
“She wouldn’t know a first down from a touchdown, but that wasn’t important,” he said. “She was always there. She hasn’t missed a game since I’ve been coaching. She supported Bear, now she’s supporting Cub. She has always been there, if we won, same way if we lost. The sun’s going to come up the next day. Fortunately, we haven’t lost much.”
With a nudge from the Mis’ess, Scott became an All-American lineman for the Redmen, before joining the Los Angeles Rams in 1966-’67.
“I played on a team that had three Hall of Famers on defense, Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones and Lamar Lundy,” he said. “Roman Gabriel was the quarterback, and he was bigger than I was. I weighed about 235. It was tough.”
When Scott’s playing career ended, his coaching career began, and what a career it has been.
After two seasons at Muldrow and another two as an assistant at Bristow, Scott was promoted to head coach of the Pirates.
“When I got the head job, the year before we had 28 kids out for football,” he said. “Twenty of them graduated. So we had eight juniors and seniors to start with. They asked me what I was going to do, and I said, “Well, I’m going to beg some kids to play.”
Beg he did, addressing the student body at school-wide assemblies, pushing to make football a priority. The results of his campaign were staggering.
“My first year, we had the only undefeated team in Bristow history, had 65 kids out,” said Scott. “They were oil field workers, poor, country boys, and they came together. It just became a deal where it was good to play football. Everybody likes to be a part of a successful team.”
From 1972-’93, Scott’s teams won 218 games, three state championships, two runner-up finishes, and 16 district titles. They did so by deploying innovative schemes on both sides of the football, philosophies inspired by some of the most prominent names in the profession.
“Ara Parseghian was the head coach at Notre Dame at the time,” said Scott. “I called him up one day, he had a home phone. We visited for about two hours. Then we got a video from Delaware of the Delaware Wing-T. Davey Nelson and Tubby Raymond were running it, and they were very successful there. So we just used what we learned and turned it into our own.”
In many respects, within the state, Scott helped to lead an offensive revolution of sorts. Amidst an era during which the Split-T, the I-formation, and even the Wishbone were prevalent, Scott’s Pirate squads strung together two decades of dominance with a look that remained visible up to the turn of the century – a run that led to his subsequent induction into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1986.
“I think we threw the ball 24 times one of those state championship years,” he said. “We ran the ball. I always believed that if you could run the ball, it made you tough. It was a tough game.”
Of course, the irony of the above statement knows no bounds, given the quarterbacking prowess of his son and grandson. Still, a lack of emphasis on the passing game never translated to the subsequent devaluing of the signal caller.
“I’ll tell you how important quarterbacks are,” said Scott. “We won the state title in ’75 and ’76. We graduated our quarterback, but had 18 starters back in ’77 and didn’t even get out of the district.”
Nearly four decades have passed since the patriarch Scott, quarterback-less, struggled on the heels of his second state championship. Today, his son, Brent Scott, has no such issues.
That’s because Brent is the head coach of a team led by the state’s top field general, his own son, Brayden.
The Memphis-commit plays and speaks like the son of a coach, walking the walk, talking the talk, and tipping the cap to those responsible for his disposition all the while.
“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Papa is winning,” he said. “That’s the one thing about him, he always wanted to compete at anything that he did. Dad had that, and he passed it down to me. One word that will always describe the three of us is ‘compete,’ in anything and everything that you do. Whether that’s school work, throwing a ball, that’s the word that puts us three together.”
Together, the trio has competed and won aplenty, though they aren’t finished just yet. In what likely amounts to Bill Scott’s last season wearing a whistle, the Indians are talented and readily capable of stretching this story book ending into December.
“This year is more special because its the last time that all of us will be together on the same field,” said Brayden Scott. “We don’t want it to end until the state championship. We know it’s the last year. We want to make it memorable.”