Over the course of 50 years, Don Blevins has spent hundreds of hours watching time pass.
As the official timekeeper at Keller ISD Stadium, Blevins is on the clock for every district home game — that’s 20 games a season for four schools — and it’s a post he’s held since 1965.
But Blevins’ history with Keller football goes back another decade. His football career included quarterbacking the Indians’ 1957 regional championship team.
‘Like a Pasture’
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In 1956, Blevins was a junior at the Keller School, a first- through 12th-grade campus, at what is now the KISD Education Center. Football games were played on a field behind the school.
“The field was like a pasture,” Blevins recalls. “It was patchy Bermuda grass with sandburs and goatheads, minimal lighting and minimal bleachers, very primitive.”
Students in Mr. Harvel’s vocational-agriculture class made the bleachers, sawing wooden boards for seats and welding the metal framework together.
Construction of a new stadium was scheduled for the fall of 1957,just north of what would become Keller High School — now Keller Middle School. It would feature better lighting, seating and a press box for game officials. As part of the process, vocational-agricultural teacher Ross Harvel (the namesake for Keller-Harvel Elementary School) got his students involved in building a new scoreboard for the project.
Blevins says he can still remember Harvel standing in front of an empty blackboard, awaiting ideas from his volunteer “construction crew.” The future timekeeper told Harvel about a unique game clock he had seen in a football game over the weekend. It was a big circle with 60 small lights arranged around it, one for each second. Minutes were shown in the middle.
“I thought, man, that was neat,” Blevins says. “So we drew it up.”
They brainstormed about how it would work and how they could put it together, and the class made the scoreboard and its unique clock.
In those days, community involvement in this type of project was very hands-on, Blevins notes, and he remembers being part of a crew that got all the pickups they could find for multiple trips to Harmonson’s Hatchery — at one time the largest chick hatchery in the world — on North Main Street. The volunteers cleaned out chicken coops and transported load after load of fertilizer to the new site.
“We had the greenest, healthiest field in the district,” he says.
The fruits of their labor came in 1957 with a glorious championship season. The Indians lost just one game, 12-7 to much-larger Grapevine High School. In the other games, most of the opposing teams were shut out, and Keller won the regional championship.
After graduating from Keller in the spring, Blevins went to the University of Texas to study civil engineering, earning a degree in 1963.
Keller’s football program was still using the clock he and his classmates had crafted, but it had begun to be a bit temperamental.
“There was a good bit of wood inside it, wooden fingers and rolling pins to change the numbers,” Blevins says. “In wet weather, it would start to swell and cause problems.”
Keeper of the Clock
By 1965, Blevins had been recruited to help operate the clock because, simply put, he knew how to fix it if something went wrong. Eventually, changes were required and, since then, the football program has had about five game clocks. Blevins hasn’t missed a play.
At first, it was just the Keller Indians. After Fossil Ridge opened in 1995, the Panthers got on the schedule, followed by the Central Chargers in 2004 and the Timber Creek Falcons in 2010. For anyone keeping score, that’s more than 400 games.
Every gameday, you’ll find Blevins in the clock room on the lower floor of the press box. It’s clear he enjoys the stadium atmosphere — the players, the band, the fans and the food. Noting that a perk of the gig is that game officials get fed, Blevins says his favorite press-box meal is the barbecue that gets delivered courtesy of Spring Creek on Main Street.
Before kickoff, referees usually come up for a brief chat about the rules.
“They always talk about if we have problems with the clock, they’ll take over on the field,” Blevins says. “That’s never happened here. The clock has always worked.”
With recent rule changes, he says he doesn’t have much time to watch the athletes on the field. He’s got to keep eyes on the referees — ever attuned to signals to stop or start the clock.
Athletic director Bob DeJonge calls Blevins “an integral part of the athletic program” and adds: “To have such a spirit of servant leadership for almost a lifetime is remarkable.”
Beyond the Bright Lights
It’s safe to say that Blevins has seen more KISD football games than any other person, but his impact on the Keller community goes far beyond the athletic complex. The same year he started keeping the clock, Blevins became the first president of the Keller Athletic Booster Club, and it wasn’t long before he had instituted the tradition of shining blue lights on the Keller water tower after Indian football victories.
He joined the Keller Lions Club in 1965, noting that his father, Weldon Blevins, was one of the group’s original founders 18 years earlier. He boasts of near perfect attendance during a half-century of involvement. This past spring, he served as grand marshal for the 67th annual Lions Club Fair and Parade.
A volunteer fireman back when the city was a little town, Blevins put his engineering training to work when he designed the city’s rural water system. And, he says there’s still plenty left to do. He turns 75 on Sept. 16 and he continues to work part-time as an engineer with his own firm, Blevins Engineering & Construction.
Blevins also served for nine years on Keller’s school board — until Kaye Blevins, his wife, went to work as a teacher at Keller High School. (She taught for more than 30 years before retiring.) He also logged some time on the board of the KISD Education Foundation.
Although he’s happy to discuss his varied activities, Blevins doesn’t spend much time dwelling on his own accomplishments or this year’s “50th anniversary season” of keeping the clock. Instead, his focus stays on the Friday night lights.
“I just enjoy the spirit of it all and the enthusiasm of the crowds,” he says. “It brings back good memories.”