By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Payton Prince is one of relatively few returners with significant playing experience at North. The senior tight end has started since he was a freshman and has been a major part of North’s success in that time.
Now, he’s settling into a role that he isn’t as familiar — being a vocal leader on the team. A quieter leader a year ago, he is now filling the shoes left by some graduated seniors.
“Last year we had guys like Jordan Evans here who would be loud, so I didn’t have to do it as much,” he said. “Now as a senior, I have one last go at this, and I have to step up now and get everyone pumped up. I’m not always the type to be loud like that.”
While the role may be a little different than what Prince is used to, he’s settled into it well, coach Wade Standley said.
“He’s matured as a young man and I’m proud of the progress he’s made,” Standley said. “He had a great offseason and is stepping up for this team.”
Numbers remain high for both schools
More than 200 kids showed up to practice on Monday, with more than 130 attending the first practice at Norman High, while Norman North had 95, the most since
Standley took over three years ago.
“We had 61 in my first year and 81 last year so we’re growing, which is what we want,” Standley said. “We accomplished a lot of what we wanted on the first day, and the intensity was good.”
Tigers’ D-line returns stronger: While much of the NHS secondary is new this season, one area the Tigers are entering the season loaded is along the line, where most of their key players are back.
“We feel like we’re really strong up front this year,” defensive coordinator John Emerson said. “Last year we were pretty solid, but there were some places where we had to cover up some holes. I think we’re more solid all-around this year, and especially up front.”
One of the leaders on what Emerson hopes will be an improved defense is senior linebacker Cale Stumpff, who has emerged as a valuable part of the defense and has taken on a leadership role.
“We’re more agile at linebacker this year, which will help,” he said. “Our secondary needs to learn some of the calls, but they’re going to be good once they get it figured out.”
Along the line, Cade Parker will anchor a unit he said plans to “dominate” this season.
“We’re much better than we were last year,” he said. “We’re getting the right people in the right places, and we don’t have to reteach everything from a year ago. It’s just about going out and playing.”
Scrimmages approaching: Full practices began on Monday, and the first preseason scrimmages of the season are quickly approaching.
Both schools will open up the preseason in two weeks, and the Tigers are already gearing up for the Top of the World Classic, a huge annual scrimmage hosted at Harve Collins Field by NHS.
The event is scheduled for Aug. 30, and more than 20 teams will be on hand to take part in the fast-paced, high-intensity event that serves as the final opportunity to prepare before the season opens up with the Crosstown Clash on Sept. 5.
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