By Nick Gholson
Friday, January 21, 2011
He doesn’t remember many of his teammates. Most of that week in the summer of 1989, the Waurika linebacker hung around with another kid who lived just down the road in Ringling.  Ask Byron West to tell you who his coaches were, and all you will get is a blank stare.

How about the final score of the 52nd Oil Bowl?  “33 to something, ” he answered.  But there is one thing about that game West will never forget.  “We lined up and got our butts kicked,” he said.

Texas jumped out to a 33-0 lead before cruising to a 33-14 win over Oklahoma.  West played on the wrong side of the river that year.  He told me he was in on three series and played some on special teams for Oklahoma.

Six months from now, he will have a whole new view of this game.  West will be one of the three Texas coaches in the 74th Oil Bowl.

“I will be trying to redeem myself–even though I’ll be doing it for Texas,” said the Henrietta head coach, who will join Steve Smith of Archer City and Tony Baccarini of Keller Fossil Ridge Texas staff for the June 11 all-star game at Memorial Stadium.

The three coaches chosen to lead Oklahoma all-start team are Phillip Koons of Tuttle, Craig Benson of Sallisaw and Mike Burris, an assistant coach at Lawton Eisenhower.

Although most of the names and faces have been blurred during the past 22 years, the memory of William Shankle still registers with West.  The Willowridge dornerback was the defensive MVP of the game.  He tied an Oil Bowl record with two interceptions and returned one of them 15 yards for Texas’ second touchdown.  Shankle went on to play at OU.

The Oil Bowl will always be more than scores or stars for West.  “The Shriners showed us that this was about a lot more than just going out and playing a football game,” West said.  Proceeds from the Oil Bowl are split down the middle and divided between the North Texas Rehab Center here in Wichita Falls and the Oklahoma Crippled Children’s Society.

“I feel very honored to be one of the coaches in such a historic game.  It will be unique to coach in the game after playing on the Oklahoma side in 1989,” West said.  “I owe both experiences to Bobby Evans.  I couldn’t be more excited to work with a better group of kids and a great organization.”

West is 40-29 since taking over as Henrietta’s head coach in 2005.  Before moving to Henrietta as an assistant in 2000, he had coaching jobs at Southeastern Oklahoma State (graduate assistant) and Noble and Blanchard, Okla.  He was an assistant in Noble for one year and then defensive coordinator for two years and head coach for four years in Blanchard.

With West and Smith on the same sideline, it will be the first time in four years that the Wichita Falls area had two coaches in the game.  Terry Wolf of Holliday and Keith Hall of Vernon helped Texas win 31-16 in 2007.

“It is a great nonor to be chosen to represent the area and Texas in the Oil Bowl.” the Archer City coach said.  There are many great coaches who have been a part of the rich history of this game and I am truly appreciative and excietd for the opportunity to be a part of this great event.”  Smith has set school records in wins, playoff wins, playoff appearances and playoff rounds since taking over the reins at Archer nine years ago.

The Wildcats have won three area championships, two regional championships and made two quarterfinal appearances under him.  Before coming to Archer City, Smith was offensive coordinator at Mineral Wells, head coach at Anton for three years, JV coach at Midlothian for three years, freshman coach at Cleburne for three years and a junior high coach in Cleburne for four years.

Parting shot:  Two former Oil Bowl coaches made college football headlines this week.  Bill Blankenship was promoted to head coach at Tulsa University.  A winner of three state titles at Tulsa Union, Blankenship coached Oklahoma gto a 41-13 Oil Bowl win in 1999.  Todd Dodge was named quarterbacks coach at Pittsburgh.  Dodge, who won fur state titles at Southlake  Carroll, was a Texas Oil Bowl coach in 2003.  Oklahoma beat Texas 24-21 that year.

Sports columnist Nick Gholson can be reached at or 940-720-3447.