High school football: Noble opens postseason, and in theatres, following movie-esque season

Senior Ezra Elkins runs with the ball in the game against the Lawton Highlanders Oct. 25.

Noble is set to hit the big stage.

The Bears, District 5A-I champions, open the state playoffs as a No. 1 seed against Woodward. Noble Stadium won’t be the only venue, though, hosting the Bears on Friday.

The R-rated motion picture “The Turkey Bowl,” directed and written by Norman native and OU alumnus Greg Coolidge (born Greg Kullich), premieres today at theaters nationwide.

The two-hour comedy centers around a 30-year-old businessman whose old friends deceive him into returning to his hometown to complete a 15-year-old high school football game that was snowed out.

The movie stars Brett Cullen, Matt Jones, Alan Ritchson, Ryan Hansen, Ashley Fink and Kristen Hager. Former Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer also makes a cameo.

The story’s protagonist, Hodges, hails from Putnam, which is based on Purcell. Putnam’s rivals are the Noble Knights, which use the Bears’ actual uniforms and home field in the film.

“[Coolidge] came back [to Norman] and wanted to do a story,” Noble superintendent Frank Solomon said of how Noble’s involvement came together. “Noble and Purcell did used to play a long time ago when they were closer to the same size. And he wrote a script and then the Hollywood guy came calling one day and he said, 'Hey, would you be willing to be a part of this story?' ... we said, ‘sure, we'll do it, we'll participate.’

“Obviously, it's a fictional story. But, you know, why not have some positive publicity for the community?”

Some of the Bears’ players were even cast as extras for flashback scenes, which were filmed in Purcell in 2018, of the fabled game that was snowed out.

Noble’s current football team is scripting its own redemption story, though, with a different Greg as director.

Noble coach Greg George has his team eyeing a Class 5A postseason run with the Boomers up first.

Noble hasn't lost since a Week 3 defeat to Piedmont, scoring only six points in that contest.

“Losing that Piedmont game made us step back, reevaluate ourselves, look in the mirror and get some stuff done,” George said. “Then we went and ran off seven straight and beat some really good football teams.

"When you do that, your kids start gaining confidence every week because every game they played, like I told them, every game you won, the next game is that much bigger.”

Noble and Woodward will kick off at 7:30 p.m. If Noble wins, it'll face the winner of Collinsville-Bishop Kelley in the state quarterfinals next week.

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