NORMAN — Norman North’s loss to Mustang was perhaps the biggest upset in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs, but it was far from the only tightly-contested game.
Several top teams fought through games that were closer than expected. The most shocking was No. 1 Jenks’ battle with Owasso, a game in which the Trojans were expected to dominate. But though Jenks led throughout, the Rams had a chance late in the game to take the lead. It took a fourth-down stop in the final two minutes for Jenks to hold onto its undefeated season and advance to face a Midwest City team that defeated Edmond Santa Fe by 24 points on Friday night.
The state’s other undefeated team also struggled. Third-ranked Lawton faced off against a Yukon team that had competed in playoff mode for several weeks already, facing a win-and-in a week ago. Lawton’s offense was explosive as usual, but the defense struggled against the Millers, winning in a 35-29 shootout rather than the route many expected. Lawton advances to host Westmoore, 31-10 winners over Sand Springs, at 7 p.m. on Friday.
North returns key starters
While Fridays’ loss was a disappointing way for the Timberwolves to end their season, North will return several key players from the squad than won its second straight District 6A-3 championship.
Vitally, sophomore running back Quan Hogan, junior quarterback John Kolar, and the entire offense line will be back. The Timberwolves, who finished 7-4 this season, also will bring back parts of its defense.
North’s offensive line struggled early in the season but steadily improved as the year progressed. The Timberwolves lose a host of receiving targets and tight ends, but will be strong up front and should give both Kolar and Hogan continued opportunities to make plays.
The Timberwolves averaged more than 40 points a game this season, and they’ll bring back the weapons next year to do so again.
Kulbeth effective in first start
Washington began the season with hopes of a district title and a deep playoff run. An ACL tear suffered by starting quarterback Brock Harmon in a Week 10 district title game derailed the first goal, but thanks to his replacement the second remains very much in play.
Junior Brady Kulbeth moved from receiver to quarterback for the Warriors and was impressive in his first career start. He got off to a hot start in the Warrior’s first-round playoff matchup with Lexington and didn’t look back. Several big plays got the Warriors off to a big lead early on his way to 161 yards and three touchdowns on just twelve touches.
He wasn’t the only one to find success against the Bulldogs. Running back Luke Ladlee added another 152 yards.
“The holes were everywhere,” Ladlee said. “We could pretty much run it where we wanted.”
Hennessey struggles in opener
The win over Lexington earned Washington the right to advance to face 10-1 Hennessey in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.
It’s an intimidating matchup, but one that became less so after Hennessey struggled to dispatch Crooked Oak in the first round on Friday. Crooked Oak spent the entire game in striking distance before eventually falling by a single possession, 28-21.
The Warriors will travel to Hennessey for Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game.
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