“I think what you hear about him is what a genuine person he was with his players and helped make them even better citizens than they were football players and I think that’s even more important than all the championships he won.”
That sentiment expressed by Muskogee head football coach Rafe Watkins pretty wells sums up the feelings of area folks as they talked about Jenks coaching legend Allan Trimble, who on Sunday lost a three-year battle with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Trimble, who won 13 state championships in his 22 years at Jenks, was 56.
Having spent most of his career coaching in the central and western parts of the state, Watkins never coached against Trimble but did have some interaction with the coach who has a stadium and a street named in his honor in Jenks.
“When I was at Guthrie we had occasion to play Bixby in the 5A playoffs, and they were running a lot of different stuff we had never seen,” Watkins said. “Knowing that Jenks played Bixby every year in their season opener, I called Allan to ask about Bixby. Now he didn’t know me from Adam, but he took the time to tell me about what to look out for and what they did, and he must have talked for 20 or 30 minutes. I always thought highly of him for taking that time that he really didn’t have to.”
Former Rougher coach Ron Lancaster was a big part of helping build the dynasty at Jenks. As the Trojan head coach, he hired Trimble as an assistant in 1990. Trimble eventually took it over in 1996. Later the mentor and the student met head to head when Lancaster became the Muskogee head coach, and Lancaster remembered a couple of those contests.
“I remember one year we played them and couldn’t catch a kickoff,” Lancaster said. “We fumbled three straight kickoffs away and they were up 28-0 early. But we came back with four touchdowns in the second quarter to get back in it.
“The last year we played it was a great game. They were ahead 28-20 and we scored late to make it 28-26. But our two-point conversion try was no good and we came up short. We had some good games and I know the Jenks community will miss him a great deal.”
Trimble, who is a member of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and nominee for this year’s class of the National High School Hall of Fame, was a friend not only to fellow coaches but members of the media as well. Long time Muskogee broadcaster Bill Huddleston is one of those who admired the Trojan boss.
“Coach Trimble always had an open-door policy with me when I needed information about his team,” Huddleston said. “In an era where coaches are often hesitant to give out too much information to the opposition media, Allan would give me whatever I asked for to help prepare for a game from rosters to scouting reports.”
Ironically, the last game played at the stadium renamed after Trimble wasn’t Jenks. Poteau beat Wagoner 7-3 last Friday in the Class 4A semifinals. Jenks will face Owasso on Saturday at UCO for the Class 6AI championship.
Owasso is coached by Bill Blankenship, who when at Union over the previous decade was the almost annual title game rival of Trimble and Jenks in a run in which the two schools owned the state title between 1996 and 2016.
A celebration of Trimble’s life will be 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the ORU Mabee Center.