By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — The Oil Bowl is a 76-year-old all-star game that throughout its lifespan has brought together some of the best high school football players in Oklahoma and Texas.
How fitting, then, that Dallas Herring, a Hartshorne Miner with family in northern Texas who was named after the Dallas Cowboys, should be among the Oil Bowl’s participants.
Herring qualified for the Oil Bowl through his participation in the Anthony Spencer Football Camp, a camp run by Sports International that took place in July at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Herring was named top running back, according to his mother Stacy Herring, which put him in the camp’s Gridiron Elite club and qualified him for the Oil Bowl.
Dallas Herring found out he’d made the 77th Oil Bowl on Dec. 13.
“He wasn’t expecting it, and he was very excited about it,” Stacy said of Dallas on Thursday.
As one of the Miners’ starting running backs, Dallas was an essential part of Hartshorne’s offense this season. Perhaps his best game came in the Class 2A quarter-finals at Oklahoma Christian School in Edmond on Nov. 29, when he rushed for 100 yards and four touchdowns.
Dallas also scored Hartshorne’s only touchdown in its semifinals loss to Millwood on Dec. 14.
The Oil Bowl began as an East-West Texas game, but it switched to an Oklahoma-Texas game in 1945. Now in his fourth year as chairman, Gary Body said the deal that made that format possible fell apart in 2011, so the last two games have once again pitted East Texas against West Texas.
“We use I-35 as the dividing line,” Boyd said.
“Each year we tell the coaches to pick a squad of 36, and it usually winds up being 38 or 39.”
For the 2014 game, Boyd said he partnered with two camps, including the Anthony Spencer Football Camp. Each camp will send its eight best players to the Bowl, and the remaining slots will be filled by Texas high school players.
Assuming this new selection process works and can bring in solid advertising revenue, Boyd said he hopes to bring in more camps for future games.
“Then we go from being an all-state game or a two-state game to being a regional game,” Boyd said.
The game will take place June 14 at Memorial Stadium at Midwestern University in Wichita Falls, Texas. Pregame festivities will begin at 7 p.m., followed by kickoff at 7:30 p.m.
Many former Oil Bowl players have gone on to successful college and even professional football careers. Oil Bowl players who have gone on to the National Football League include Pittsburg Steelers running back Felix Jones; former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ray Berry; former
Heisman Trophy-winner and Detroit Lions running back Steve Owens; NFL Hall of Fame receiver and U.S. congressman Steven Largent; NFL 1960s All-Decade cornerback Bobby Boyd, and College Football Hall of Fame and former NFL wide receiver Dave Parks.
Art Briles, current head football coach for Baylor University, also played in the Oil Bowl. Grant Teaff, a former Baylor coach and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, coached the Oil Bowl, as did Gordon Wood, whose career coaching record of 396-91-15 set Texas and national records.
Gary Boyd said coaches for the 2014 Oil Bowl will be announced some time next week.
The Oil Bowl is one of the oldest all-star games in the country, surviving where so many other such games have died off. Gary Boyd said the game’s partnership with Maskat Shrine in Wichita Falls, Texas, has helped make that survival possible.
The Shriners helped start the Oil Bowl, according to the Maskat Shrine website, and Shriners Hospitals for Children is the official charity for the game.
“Not only are we the oldest game in the country, but we are the cleanest-run game and the most above-the-board game,” Gary Boyd said.
A text message forwarded from Sports International sent to Stacy Herring from International Sports said the Oil Bowl will cover room, meals and Dallas’ uniform. The family will have to cover travel and provide any equipment Dallas might need.
Contact Matt Goisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.