Saturday, March 21, 2009

The toe

The big toe is just plain funny when you think about it. Whoever came up with the name toe when they were describing a metatarsal? But, now-a-days there is such a thing as “turf toe” when talking about an injured toe on a college or professional athlete. Running backs and middle infielders often get turf toe. It’s actually a sprained toe, caused by a running back when he makes a quick cut, or a shortstop/second baseman when he tries to pivot on said toe when making a double pay toss.

I started out as a running back way back when, but I guess I didn’t have the proper cuts, because I quickly faded into oblivion. I was, however, a great running back in my back yard and could make all kinds of cuts. During high school football in 1963 at Heavener, Joe Babcock was our kickoff specialist. One game Joe approached the ball to kick off but stumbled and almost missed the ball, instead dribbling it harmlessly to one side. Thus, his nickname became “Joe the toe.” Earlier, during the 1961 state-playoffs, I think, Colin Kelley kicked what is believed to be the first extra point attempt (PAT) ever tried at Heavener (help me out here, Colin). Colin was a conventional-style kicker, in other words, he kicked it from straight-on. The kick was good, too. It came against Hugo Washington in a 58-22 romp. If Colin wasn’t the first, he had maybe the best percentage ever, 1-1, or 100%. So many players now days, kick soccer-style, on the side of the foot. So, toes are good for something.

Note: Heavener had scored to make it 58-22 to go in front comfortably and some of the Wolves players talked coach Collins into trying a “giffle.” That was the term Carl Lazalier used in his weekly Ledger write-ups. Collins conceded and Kelly proved to be accurate.


At March 21, 2009 at 11:33 AM , Blogger colin said...

No John, (you scoundrel) I didn't invent the extra point kick at ole HHS. However, I don't remember that anyone else tried to kick any extra points back in my playing days. For some reason our Coach, Bob Collins, thought two points was worth twice as much as one and he had some plays that he could have us run and no one would likely stop us until we had made at least a couple of yards so we always went for the two point conversions plays (and usually made it). Two of the favorites were pass plays he called "look in" and "look out" which meant which ever tight end he called for (usually Scrivner) would dart either inside or outside and catch a quick pass from quarterback John Council and make the required yards before the opposition knew what had happened. I think that those plays were so successful because Coach had prepared us so well that we actually believed that they couldn't help but work if we all did our jobs right. As you wrote, my kick was against Hugo Washington in the 1961 State Play Offs. We had completed the regular season undefeated and we had our first play off game pretty well sewed up and had scored again late in the game making the score 58 to 22 and some of the seniors talked Coach into letting me try to kick the extra point and Coach consented and sent me in to give it a try. I don't recall who the snapper was. It could have been Homer Jones or it might have been Bob Cherry or perhaps it was Duane Mead, but I'm pretty sure it was John Council who took the perfect snap and placed the ball down as if he had done it a hundred times before and I just stepped up and kicked the football and it went flipping through the goal post uprights. One would have thought we had been doing it in every game but shucks, we hadn't even practiced an extra point kick; let alone done one in a game before. (I did have this one little "gimmick" I used each time I kicked--anyone out there remember what it was??)
My only predecessor -to my knowledge- was Jack Wedge. Jack's folks owned the laundry west of the football practice fields and Coach used to make us run back and forth to the laundry when we messed up during practice. More often than not it was just one guy that messed up but since we were a team we all had to make the trip down to the laundry and back and if Mickey Wynn or Buster Coggins or another player loafed on one of the treks then we all got to cheerfully go again!!! I think that laundry was something like eleven miles away from the practice field but those trips helped make the Wolves the best conditioned team in the State!
It was probably back in the mid-fifties when Jack Wedge played for the Wolves. As I recall Jack was mainly a basketball star for HHS and I seem to recall he was a baseball pitcher too. Jack had been the "shoe shine" boy at the barber shop where my dad worked so I kept up with him during his playing days. I think Jack went on to be a high school teacher.
I remember Joe the Toe's kick. (Ever kicker's nightmare) Joe was quite the character in his own right, but he had the misfortune of being the younger brother of the great HHS lineman Bob Babcock who excelled at most everything that he tried. I'll take pen in hand and write more about Bob someother time, but I think that Joe so wanted to be something of the hero that Bob was, but try as he might there could only be one Bob Babcock.
I recall another infamous kick. This one happened back in the 1959 Wolves vs the Poteau Pirates game.
The game was played at Poteau during a horrific blizzard with strong winds, ice, sleet,and snow. The Wolves had an occaision to kickoff and our guy, Jerry West who was a much better kicker than I ever hoped to be, booted the ball high into the air and the wind caught the ball and spun it back over the kicking teams heads. The rest of our playing that night didn't go much better either. Have you ever tried hiking a ball when your hands are frozen?? Coach Collins, how do you remember that game?
No, I was not the first to kick and extra point for ole HHS, but I am pround to have had a perfect record ( he said grinning) 1 for 1 / 100 % / Perfect / Never Missed A Kick / Ayee!!! colin

At March 21, 2009 at 5:43 PM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

I remember that Poteau game, Colin. I was back from college and attended and ran the sidelines with my Father. There was some dispute at the time that maintained that since the ball had traveled the minimum ten yards downfield before the wind blew it back, that it was a live ball and it, therefore, belonged to Heavener. There was an earlier occasion some years earlier when Heavener did, in fact, recover a kickoff in the opponent's end zone since they were operating under the misapprehension that it was like a punt and not a live ball. Back in the 1930s and 1940s and 1950s Heavener routinely kicked the PAT since there was no 2-point rule.

At March 21, 2009 at 7:29 PM , Blogger John Inman said...

Colin, why don't you blog on some of good teams at Heavener. I don't know if coach Collins is going to write another one, it's been so long since his last one. In particular I would like to to read something about those teams. Pretty please. And, no, I'm not a scoundrel for bringing the subject to the forefront!

At March 22, 2009 at 7:17 PM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

Okay, Colin, let me see if my memory still works a little. Am I dreaming this or do I really remember that you always tied a shoe string around your ankle (or maybe it was attached to the shoe) and wrapped it around the cleat on the toe of your kicking foot so that you could pull the toe of that shoe up higher prior to your kick-offs? Wasn't that your "gimmick"?

Surely I don't remember that...I can't remember what I did yesterday.

At March 22, 2009 at 8:22 PM , Blogger colin said...

right on chuck. I'm impressed. Tying the toe of the kicking shoe back was supposed to help "lock" the ankle and drive the ball higher. Made it a little clumbsy to run down and make a tackle though. colin

At March 22, 2009 at 8:24 PM , Blogger colin said...

OK John, I take the "scoundrel" label back. "Trickster" would have been better. Hope both were received in good humor as they were intended. colin

At March 23, 2009 at 10:46 AM , Blogger John Inman said...

I told Cynthia what I thought your gimmick was, but Chuck got it correct, so I guess he's the winner. What is his prize?

At March 25, 2009 at 9:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question: If Colin kicked the first extra point of the game (and extra point kicks are only one point)shouldn't the final score be an odd number instead of 58-22? I don't get it. - Jim Patterson

At March 26, 2009 at 9:13 AM , Blogger colin said...

Jim, It was 58 and then it 58+1 after the kick. Final score 59-22.

At March 26, 2009 at 9:13 AM , Blogger colin said...

Jim, It was 58 and then it 58+1 after the kick. Final score 59-22.

At March 26, 2009 at 7:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Colin. - Jim


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