EDMOND — Norman High’s still a long way from the playoffs. Getting there may require taking down unbeaten Lawton inside Cameron Stadium.
Still, whether the Tigers make it or not, what happened Friday night at Wantland Stadium might just stand on its own.
Edmond Santa Fe entered without Oklahoma quarterback commit Justice Hansen, yet still came in a clear favorite, the loser of only one district game.
Meanwhile, the Tigers, a running team if there ever was one, played without its top two running backs, Darius Manning and Dupree Young, the victims of knee and ankle injuries, respectively. And, for much of the second half, Tiger quarterback Jakcob Dean was clearly hobbling.
It didn’t matter.
The Tigers (4-4, 2-3 District 6A-4) scored the first three touchdowns of the second half and coasted to a 28-14 victory.
“This is what we’ve been looking for all year,” Tiger coach Greg Nation told his team as it huddled near the south end zone. “Everybody came together.”
There was no other way.
NHS’ defense was stout, sacking ESF (5-3, 3-2) quarterback Keaton Torre six times and holding the Wolves to 14 rushing yards on 25 carries.
Ty Smith, just a sophomore, put in a 23-carry-for-69-yards performance that included two touchdowns, before he was dinged up in the fourth quarter and gave way to freshman Diante DeFreeze, who carried five times to help the Tigers salt the game away.
Dean made plays with his feet, running for 111 yards on 10 carries and scrambles, as well as his with his arm, throwing for a pair of touchdowns.
“The monkey’s not off our back,” Dean said, still thinking of the playoffs. “But we’re not going to let up. We’re just going to push harder and put the pedal to the metal … We dug ourselves the hole and now we have to work hard to dig ourselves out of it.”