Oklahoma Thunder

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Oklahoma Thunder
Oklahoma Thunder WFL logo.png
LeagueWFL (2008–2010)
GDFL (2010–present)
Team historyOklahoma Thunder
Based inBixby, Oklahoma
StadiumSpartan Stadium
(Tulsa Public Schools)
ColorsBlue and Silver         
Head coachRashid Lowe
Championships2008, 2009, 2010, 2013,2016,2017,2018
Division titles7

The Oklahoma Thunder are an American football team based in Bixby, Oklahoma.[1] Starting with the 2011 season, the team competes in the Gridiron Developmental Football League, playing in the Midwest-North Division in the GDFL's Impact Conference.[2] Players have included Bacone College alumni, former major college standouts, and former NFL players including Willie Ponder.[3][4] The team was founded by Bruce Madden, Daniel Cornelison, and Gary Joice in 2007. James Ashford later bought a piece of the team. The team originally competed in the World Football League. The league was formed as a minor league for players to work on their skills in hopes of making a professional team. During the team's time in the WFL the Thunder had players signed by several professional teams including the New Orleans Voo-Doo and the Colorado Crush of the AFL The team's name pre-dates the relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City to become the Oklahoma City Thunder.[5][6][7] The team's official colors are silver and blue. The team's cheerleaders are known as the Thunder Girls.

From its founding in 2008 through the 2010 season, the Thunder competed in the Central Division of the new World Football League. Through three seasons in the WFL the team was undefeated with a 40–0 record and three consecutive league championships. The team beat teams from all over the country and is the only American college or professional team to beat the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education[8] Mexican college team.


World Football League (2008–2010)[edit]

2008 season[edit]

In their 2008 inaugural season, the Oklahoma Thunder finished with a perfect 14–0 regular season record under head coach Bruce Madden.[4] After beating the Texas Bulldogs 84-6 in the semi-final game,[4] the Thunder rolled to 29–6 victory over the Austin Gamebreakers in World Bowl II on October 18, 2008, at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana.[6][9][10] (The new minor-league WFL retained the numbering from the original 1970s WFL.)[11] After the game, Thunder head coach Bruce Madden was presented the WFL Coach of the Year Award and linebacker Joey Crawford was named WFL Player of the Year.[9]

2009 season[edit]

In 2009, the team posted another unbeaten record and went on to defeat the Dallas Diesel 41–12 in World Bowl III on August 29, 2009, at LaFortune Stadium in Tulsa.[12][13] During the season, the Thunder hosted the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education Borregos football team for an exhibition. The Thunder defeated the Borregos 31-19 and are still the only American team to defeat the Borregos. Additionally, the Thunder set a national scoring record with a 104-6 victory over the Austin Gamebreakers in the WFL semi-finals. Quarterback Rico Watkins was named WFL MVP after the season, in which he broke several national minor league football records Including: Passing yards in a season- 5,346 passing touchdowns-84 Total touchdowns- 90. Defensive End Jeremy Gray also set the national Minor League sack record with 36 during the regular season.

The Team ended the season with several award winners and many players making all-star game appearances.[14] During the Hall of Fame ceremony in Las Vegas, Thunder players received the following awards: QB Rico Watkins took home Quarterback of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, and Overall Player of the Year. Coach Bruce Madden took home Coach of the Year. Corey Curtis won Offensive Lineman of the Year. Jeremy Gray won Defensive Player of the Year and Linebacker of the Year. T.J. Covington took home the Defensive Back of the Year award.[12][13] The Thunder also broke several Minor League Football team records, including: Total Points-994 Points per game- 71 Points per game allowed- 3.1 Points in a game 104. The Thunder's lowest point total during the season came during World Bowl III, a 41-12 victory over the Dallas Diesel. During the season ESPN referred to the Thunder during a broadcast discussing the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA team, calling the Thunder the "greatest minor league football team of all time".

2010 season[edit]

Fifteen Thunder players were named to the All-WFL Team in late-July 2010, more than any other team in the league.[15] Quarterback Rico Watkins, wide receivers Marcus Pugh and Michael Swalley, tight end Clayton Froese, offensive lineman Jeremy Gray, defensive end C.B. Boyd, defensive tackle Aaron Littell, linebackers Joey Crawford and Jeremy Nethon, defensive back Quito Lightbourne, and special teams player Eli Kennard were all named to the first team. The second team included Thunder offensive linemen Josh Toops and Corey Curtis, defensive tackle Calvin Wychoff, defensive back Kurtis Dawson, and kicker Brandon Hawley.[15][16] Several Thunder players won regular season awards, they include: WFL MVP-Rico Watkins Offensive Player of the Year- Prentiss Elliot Defensive Player of the year- Joey Crawford WFL Coach of the Year- Bruce Madden.

After an 11–0 regular season in 2010 and a playoff win over the Fort Worth, Texas-based Eagle Mountain Marauders, the Thunder competed in their third straight World Bowl on July 31, 2010, where they faced the Des Moines Blaze at the East Tulsa Sports Complex in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[15][17] The Thunder defeated the Blaze, 52–10, to claim their third consecutive league championship and extend their unbeaten streak to 40 games.[8] Joey Crawford was named World Bowl MVP, his second such honor.[8]

Gridiron Developmental Football League (2011–present)[edit]

2011 season[edit]

In 2011, the WFL folded. After the dissolution of the league Head Coach Bruce Madden resigned and ownership changed hands. The team found a new home in the Gridiron Developmental Football League. Rashid Lowe, who was the defensive backs coach for the team previous to 2011, was named head coach. With a new team structure and massive coaching and player turnover the team was not able to duplicate its previous dominance. Although still a top-tier team, the Thunder had its 44-game winning streak snapped in the GDFL title game.

The team played its 10-game regular season in the Midwest-North Division in the GDFL's Impact Conference.[2] The Thunder's home field was LaFortune Stadium in Tulsa.[18] On August 7, the Thunder broke two league records in their game against the Kansas Diamondbacks: points scored (96) and largest win margin (90).[19] After the blowout win, the Thunder became the top-ranked team in the GDFL.[19] After defeating the St. Louis Bulldogs on August 13, the Thunder finished the 2011 regular season with a perfect 9–0 record, winning the Midwest North Division and clinching the top seed in the playoffs, and were ranked as the number 1 team in the GDFL.

With home field advantage through all the preliminary playoff rounds, the Thunder defeated the North Texas Marauders (70–0) in the divisional playoff, the Dallas Diesel (24-22) in the regional playoff, the Indianapolis Tornados (48-13) in the Impact Conference South game, and the Kentucky Wolverines (42–6) in the Impact Conference Championship game. The Oklahoma Thunder travelled to Tara Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, as the visitor to play the Xtreme Conference champion Chambersburg Cardinals in the GDFL Championship game. Suffering their first loss in franchise history, the Thunder fell 19-14 to the Cardinals.[20]

Date Visitor Home Kickoff Venue Score
Regular season
June 4, 2011 Kansas Kaos Oklahoma Thunder 7:00 PM CDT Lafortune Stadium
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Thunder 71
Kaos 0
June 11, 2011 Oklahoma Thunder Kansas Knights 7:00 PM CDT Topeka, Kansas CANCELLED
June 18, 2011 OKC Wolverines Oklahoma Thunder 7:00 PM CDT Lafortune Stadium
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Thunder 63
Wolverines 14
June 25, 2011 Oklahoma Thunder Kansas Diamondbacks 5:00 PM CDT Maize South High School
Wichita, Kansas
Thunder 80
Diamondbacks 0
July 9, 2011 St. Louis Bulldogs Oklahoma Thunder 7:00 PM CDT LaFortune Stadium
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Win by Forfeit
July 16, 2011 Oklahoma Thunder Kansas Kaos 7:00 PM CDT Shawnee Mission South High School
Athletic Complex (Shawnee Mission, KS)
Thunder 52
Kaos 7
July 23, 2011 Arkansas Sabers Oklahoma Thunder 7:00 PM CDT LaFortune Stadium
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Thunder 27
Sabers 12
July 30, 2011 Oklahoma Thunder Dallas Diesel 7:00 PM CDT Dallas, Texas Thunder 31
Diesel 23
August 6, 2011 Kansas Diamondbacks Oklahoma Thunder 8:00 PM CDT LaFortune Stadium
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Thunder 96
Diamondbacks 6
August 13, 2011 Oklahoma Thunder St. Louis Bulldogs 8:00 PM CDT St. Louis, Missouri Thunder 51
Bulldogs 23
Divisional Playoff
August 27, 2011
North Texas Marauders Oklahoma Thunder 7:00 PM CDT G.W. Carver Middle School
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Thunder 70
Marauders 0[21]
Regional Playoff
September 3, 2011
Dallas Diesel Oklahoma Thunder 8:00 PM CDT Lafortune Stadium
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Thunder 24
Diesel 22[22]
Impact Conference South
September 10, 2011
Indianapolis Tornados Oklahoma Thunder 8:00 PM CDT Lafortune Stadium
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Thunder 48
Tornados 13
Conference Championship
September 17, 2011[23]
Kentucky Wolverines Oklahoma Thunder 8:00 PM CDT Lafortune Stadium
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Thunder 42
Wolverines 6
GDFL Championship
October 1, 2011
Oklahoma Thunder Chambersburg Cardinals 5:30 PM EDT Tara Stadium
Atlanta, Georgia
Thunder 14
Cardinals 19[20]

2012 season[edit]

For the 2012 season, the Thunder was able to clinch the Mid-West Division Championship by defeating the OKC Diamondbacks in the second round of the playoffs. The Thunder had a challenging season with the loss of the majority of their starters to the Indoor Football League. The Thunder were defeated by the Indianapolis Tornadoes in the third round of the playoffs. They finished the season 10-3 and a franchise standing of 65-4.

2013 season[edit]

Date Visitor Home Score
Regular Season
May 4, 2013 Memphis Dolphins Oklahoma Thunder Thunder 63
Dolphins 0
May 11, 2013 Oklahoma Thunder Oklahoma City Bounty Hunters Thunder 21
Bountyhunters 0
May 18, 2013 Oklahoma Thunder Oklahoma City Rattlers Thunder 48
Rattlers 0
June 1, 2013 Oklahoma City Bounty Hunters Oklahoma Thunder Thunder 47
Bountyhunters 28
June 15, 2013 Oklahoma Thunder DC Reign Thunder 88
Kaos 6
June 22, 2013 Oklahoma City Rattlers Oklahoma Thunder Thunder 21
Rattlers 0
June 29, 2013 Oklahoma Thunder Memphis Dolphins Thunder 42
Diesel 28
July 13, 2013 DC Reign Oklahoma Thunder Thunder 21
Reign 0
July 20, 2013 Oklahoma Thunder Arkansas Capitals Thunder 55
Capitals 20
July 27, 2013 Memphis Dolphins Oklahoma Thunder Thunder 55
Dolphins 10
Divisional Playoff
August 10, 2013
Tennessee Hurricanes Oklahoma Thunder Thunder 66
Hurricanes 6[21]
Regional Playoff
August 17, 2013
Oklahoma City Bounty Hunters Oklahoma Thunder Thunder 35
Bounty Hunters 28
Impact Conference South
September 10, 2013
Indianapolis Tornados Oklahoma Thunder Thunder 20
Tornados 11
GDFL Championship
September 7, 2013
Oklahoma Thunder Lehigh Valley Storm Thunder 56
Storm 8[20]

2014 Season[edit]

Oklahoma Thunder has a stellar undefeated regular season 10-0. The road to the Championship is cut short by the Dallas Anarchy. Thunder overall record 88-5.

2015 Season[edit]

Oklahoma Thunder has a great regular season with a 7-1 record with their only loss to the OKC Bounty Hunters. Thunder wins the division with a victory over the Oklahoma City Bounty Hunters in the second round of playoffs. Thunder handed OKC their first ever home stadium loss and the first time OKC had never been allowed to score a touchdown. Thunder travels to New Orleans where they lose the divisional title to the Crescent City Kings. Thunder over record 96-7.

2016 Season[edit]

Oklahoma Thunder has a great regular season with an 8-0 record. Thunder wins the division with a victory over the Memphis Blast in the second round of playoffs. Thunder wins the National Championship againstthe Nashville Storm.

2017 Season[edit]

Oklahoma Thunder has a great regular season with an 8-0 record. Thunder wins the division with a victory over the Mississippi Steeldogs in the second round of playoffs. Thunder wins the National Championship against the Chattanooga Eagles. This is Oklahoma Thunders 6th National Championship.

In 2008, the team played its home games at Booker T. Washington Stadium and S.E. Williams Stadium in Tulsa.[1] For the 2009 season, home games were moved to Exchange Bank Stadium in nearby Skiatook, Oklahoma.[6] The Thunder played most of their 2010 home games at LaFortune Stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma, before relocating to the East Tulsa Sports Complex. The Thunder's home field for 2011 was Lafortune Stadium in Tulsa.[18] Thunders new home field Stadium for 2013 and 2014 Season is Bixby High School.

Media affiliations[edit]

Home games were formerly televised on KWHB TV-47 and Cox cable channel 7 in Tulsa on a one-hour delay.[6]


  1. ^ a b Hibdon, Glenn (July 19, 2008). "Oklahoma Thunder 101". Tulsa World. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Oklahoma Thunder History in the Making". Gridiron Developmental Football League. February 25, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  3. ^ Tupa, Mike (May 27, 2009). "Pro football Thunder feature local connections". Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Burton, Wendy (October 2, 2008). "Former Warriors 'Thunder' Through Playoffs". Baconian Online. Bacone College. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  5. ^ Dierking, Kyle (July 20, 2008). "NBA Could Share Team's Thunder". KOTV. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d Davis, Dwayne (May 6, 2009). "The Real Thunder: Ready for your love, Tulsa's World Football League team gears up for another season". Urban Tulsa. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  7. ^ Sussman, Matt (July 19, 2008). "But There's Already An Oklahoma Thunder". Deadspin. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c "Thunder Win 3rd Straight World Bowl". World Football League. August 1, 2010. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  9. ^ a b "Oklahoma Thunder Wins World Bowl II". Baconian Online. Bacone College. October 20, 2008. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  10. ^ Genske, Kevin (November 11, 2008). "Oklahoma Thunder takes WFL by storm". The Collegian. University of Tulsa. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  11. ^ McGinn, Des (October 19, 2008). "Oklahoma wins World Bowl II over Austin". Shreveport Times. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  12. ^ a b "Thunder wins World Bowl". Tulsa World. August 31, 2009. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  13. ^ a b Tupa, Mike (September 8, 2009). "Ex-Ironmen grid star thrives for the Oklahoma Thunder". Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  14. ^ Brown, Mike (June 30, 2009). "Derailed Recovery". Tulsa World. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  15. ^ a b c Banning, Troy (July 30, 2010). "All World: Bell, Miller, Elkin and Sowle tagged 1st-team players in WFL". The Daily Freeman-Journal. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  16. ^ "WFL Announces All-WFL Team". World Football League. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  17. ^ "WFL in Tulsa, OK on July 31st 7:00 PM". World Football League. July 26, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  18. ^ a b "Staff". Oklahoma Thunder Football. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  19. ^ a b "A New GDFL No.1 For The First Time In 2011". GDFL.org. August 9, 2011.
  20. ^ a b c "2011 GDFL National Championship Game". Total Sports Coverage. October 1, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  21. ^ a b Hillsman, J. (August 29, 2011). "Stormy Start To GDFL First Round Playoffs". Total Sports Coverage. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
  22. ^ "GDFL Playoffs Continue". Total Sports Coverage. September 4, 2011. Retrieved September 5, 2011.
  23. ^ "2011 Playoff Bracket" (PDF). Gridiron Developmental Football League. Retrieved September 11, 2011.

External links[edit]