By SHAWN YORKS
• Daily Leader
FORGAN, Okla. — Twins Rhett and Ryan Radcliff have been giving opponents double vision on the basketball court for years. As freshmen, they led the Bulldogs to the state quarterfinals before falling to Big Pasture. Last year, they were a game shy of a return engagement to The Big House, and this year they’re expected to contend for the state title.
But first, Rhett and Ryan have a little business to take care of on the football field.
The juniors will lead the Bulldogs to the state semifinals on Friday night in Woodward, where Forgan will take on Deer Creek-Lamont. DCLA handed Forgan its only loss of the season on Oct. 15, and since that time the Bulldogs have rolled, outscoring their last five opponents 230-30.
Rhett and Ryan have been a huge part of that. And while Forgan and the Radcliff twins are known throughout Oklahoma for basketball, most of the state outside Northwest Oklahoma isn’t familiar with their football prowess.
That’s something they hope to change Friday night against DCLA.
“They’re a good team,” Rhett said of the Eagles. “They’ve got a really good coach and a really good ballclub. But we’ve got a good ballclub, too. Last time we didn’t come out ready to play. We didn’t do anything well. We just need to come out with intensity like we did last Friday night.”
Rhett is the leader of Forgan’s run-happy offensive attack. He’s rushed for more than 1,400 yards and scored 19 touchdowns in 12 games.
Ryan most often lines up at receiver on offense, and is a defensive end on Forgan’s bend-but-don’t-break defense. In fact, both brothers have combined for more than 100 tackles this season.
Head coach Doug Bowles said that while Rhett gets most of the attention as the team’s quarterback, Ryan is an integral part of the team on both sides of the ball. He’s a quick defensive end, and with his height, he’s a go-to guy when Forgan does throw the ball.
“We run it a lot, but he can jump and get the ball,” Bowles said. “He’s an under-used talent in that respect, but he’s a good defensive end because he’s so doggone quick.”
Case-in-point: The final touchdown of last week’s quarterfinal win over Helena Timberlake was a Radcliff-to-Radcliff connection. But only the second such touchdown all season.
Offensively, Rhett uses his quickness to find open lanes, most often following behind Forgan’s beefy offensive line until something opens up.
“He’s a good runner,” Bowles said. “People figure their game plan to try to stop him, and that’s where Matt (Morris) has really helped us out. And when they go to keying on him, we can shake Rhett loose.”
Rhett has started under center since his freshman season when the Bulldogs went 4-6, losing their last four games.
Forgan has gone 19-5 since, including a state semifinal appearance a year ago. Forgan lost to eventual state runner-up Seiling 35-6 at Woodward’s Boomer Stadium.
At first glance, the brothers don’t look particularly strong, just tall and lanky. But opponents quickly learn that looks can be deceiving.
“They don’t look very strong, but their dad works them all summer,” Bowles said. “They live out on the farm. Their dad gets their fanny out of bed and they go to work. They work all the time so they’re pretty stout.”
Back to basketball. What makes them so good is, in addition to natural talent, they travel to various camps around the state in the off-season.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy football.
“I just like going out and competing and getting a chance to represent our school, our town,” Rhett said. “I love football, but not as much as I like basketball, everyone knows that.”
Ryan, who’s a few minutes older than Rhett, enjoys competing alongside his brother and his friends.
“Just to be on a team with all of your best friends, something to be a part of, especially in a small town,” Ryan said.
Bowles knew the twins would be something special when they were in junior high school.
“There was Tanner Jones, Rhett and Ryan and, my goodness, it was just like men amongst boys in junior high,” Bowles said. “They’d play a quarter, then we’d take them out to keep from just having a horrible score.”
There was a small learning curve once they got to high school. But it’s paid off. The Bulldogs are once again in the state semifinals ... and the state championship game is just a win away.
“All of us have been playing since we were freshmen,” Rhett said. “If we keep going out and executing, hopefully it will turn out well.”