NORMAN — A few things perhaps about the goings on at area pitches:
One, though the defending Class 6A state champion Norman North boys (6-3, 3-0 District 6A-2) have lost three games this season it is the Timberwolves, not their Crosstown Clash rival Tigers (7-0, 1-0 District 6A-1) who nonetheless find themselves in the driver’s seat to return to the state title game.
Norman High, trying to get back to the title game after 2011’s runner-up finish, may jump into its own driver’s seat, but has yet to play the game that will put it there.
Two, of Norman’s four Class 6A soccer programs, it is the eighth-ranked Norman High girls (5-2, 1-0 District 6A-1) — on paper, perhaps, the least menacing of the four — that can write their own ticket into the heart of the playoffs as soon as the next 36 hours or so.
Three, given the season to date, the program of the four best suited to go win a state championship right now is also the program with the least history of the four. That would be the Norman North girls (7-1, 3-0 District 6A-2).
Now, let’s dig a little deeper.
n The North boys may have never lost three regular season games prior to this season. Still, they look like the best team in their district and there’s a strong case they’ve already topped their two nearest pursuers: Edmond Memorial and U.S. Grant.
District games remain against No. 7 Mustang (6-3, 2-1) and unranked Bishop McGuinness (4-2, 2-1) as well as Westmoore (4-5, 2-1) and Putnam City (2-5, 0-2), but it would take a major stumble from the T-Wolves to fail to run the table and, even if they stumble, they could still win District 6A-2 and still secure two home-pitch playoff games.
The second-ranked NHS boys are riding high but in a killer district. The Tigers are a clear favorite at Southmoore (6-2, 1-1) tonight but not-so-clear a favorite against No. 4 Edmond North (8-2, 4-0) Friday and No. 3 Edmond Santa Fe (8-1, 3-0) April 23.
If the Tigers can win those games — and every other one — NHS and North could be on a Class 6A championship game collision course, one that might be played back at John Crain Field.
But the Tigers, who have won three shootouts — while North has lost three — and three other games by a single goal, must win those games to create their own inside track to an all-Norman title game. Lose only one and they’re probably at North the second night of the playoffs.
n Does anybody grasp the dominance of the NHS girls program over the years? Look at it this way. What the North boys have been the last three seasons, the NHS girls used to be every season.
From 1991 to 2005 the Tiger girls won seven state titles and reached the championship game five other seasons.
NHS reached the semifinals in 2006 and 2007 but it’s been more difficult since.
The best way back to the final four is to secure two playoff games on your home field and the Tigers can go a very long way toward that by first topping No. 10 Southmoore (6-2, 1-1) tonight and then turning around and beating No. 4 Edmond North (8-2, 4-0) Friday night at home.
Coach Tyler Hardage has long said he believes his team can beat anybody it plays, but that’s still different from knowing yourself to being the favorite every game.
Well, tonight’s important because it gets the Tigers to Friday. Win both nights and the Tigers should be staring at a district crown.
n If there were a power poll of the four programs, the North girls would belong at the top.
The NHS boys might not like it because they’re unbeaten and the North boys might not like it because they’re the defending champs, but the T-Wolves aren’t sweating close games, have already vanquished their biggest district foe — Edmond Memorial — and if anybody takes them to a shootout they’ve got Kali Newman in the net. They clearly have the best path.
Now that you’re up to date, enjoy the rest of the season.
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