Durant Public Schools will induct three new members into it’s Athletic Hall of Fame at the fifth annual induction ceremony on Friday, September 28 when the Lions host Tulsa Bishop Kelley at Paul Laird Field.
This year’s class includes a pair of standout student athletes in Jim Ely and Greg Williams as well as the school’s first-ever championship team in any sport - the 1923 Durant High football squad.
Ely was a three-year standout in multiple sports for the Lions from 1947-1949, earning several district, regional and conference honors after moving from Tulsa in his early years where he also starred in wrestling and swimming.
“Pee Wee”, as he was nicknamed, quickly became a key contributor on the DHS boys’ softball squad, leading the team to district and conference championships in 1947 and then district, regional and conference crowns in 1948. In baseball he helped spur the Lions to district and regional crowns in 1948 and district and conference titles in 1949. He was versatile on the track as well, capturing district titles in the broad jump, 440 yards, high jump, 180 yard hurdles and 440 yard relay.
Not to be outdone, Ely also played both sides of the ball on the gridiron as quarterback and safety for Coach Lynn Marsh’s final two football teams. His 1948 club was one of the best defensive units in school history, yielding a total of 40 points in 10 games, including six shutouts.
After high school Ely went on to an illustrious career as a baseball and football official, which included serving on the officiating staff for Super Bowl XLV in 2011 at Arlington, Texas.
Williams was a tremendous competitor for the Durant Lions for four years in both football and baseball before graduating in 1985.
His greatest achievements came on the gridiron where he earned the highest honor ever given to a DHS footballer when he was named to the Bally All American Team as a first-team selection. He also captured All-State honors from the Oklahoma Coaches Association, Daily Oklahoman and Tulsa World in addition to being named All-District center and the District Defensive Player of the Year.
Williams was a two-way starter as well as handling placekicking duties for the Lions in their 1983 state championship and 1984 state semifinal campaigns before going on to the University of Oklahoma where he played on the Sooners’ 1985 national championship club.
Durant’s 1923 football squad may have been the best in the entire state but nobody will ever know for sure since Oklahoma didn’t crown a state champion until 1944.
The Lions still however claimed the Southeast Oklahoma High School Championship with a 28-0 win over Hugo on Thanksgiving Day. That proved to be the first team championship the school ever earned in athletic history.
Quarterbacked by Hall of Famer Bennett Story, the 1923 Lions put together one of the top offensive and defensive seasons in Durant history en route to an 8-1-1 record, finishing unbeaten against Oklahoma competition. Their only loss was a 17-6 decision to Sherman, Texas.
That season the Lions piled up 349 points while yielding only 34. That included seven shutouts and a high water scoring mark of 60 in a whitewashing of Coalgate.
The school is looking for anyone that might have had relatives on the outstanding 1923 squad to be recognized at the Hall of Fame ceremony prior to the Lion game with Bishop Kelley. Please contact Duane Merideth at 580-924-1276 if you have any information.