NORMAN — Don’t call it revenge.
That’s the word coming out of the Norman High locker room, days before the Tigers (9-2) travel to Owasso (8-2) in a rematch of two teams meeting in the postseason for the third consecutive year. Owasso has had the Tigers’ number in the last two seasons, eliminating NHS both times in the playoff opener.
But the games of the past are just that, coach Greg Nation said.
“You’ve got to have a short memory,” he said. “This is not a revenge game. Revenge is for when someone came out and shamed you. This isn’t like that; we’ve gone up there the last two years and played well. Now it’s a new year, a new team, new playoffs and new circumstances. What happened last year or the year before doesn’t matter.”
Still, those playoff losses aren’t far from the minds of the Tigers. The two teams staged a memorable five-overtime thriller in 2010 where Owasso eventually prevailed, and the Rams defeated the Tigers again last season behind five touchdowns by running back Scottie Prealow, who will be back on the field for Friday’s game.
And there are lessons to be learned from those games. Nation said his team two years ago committed too many unforced errors, while last year the Tigers were unable to wrap up Prealow at the line of scrimmage.
“You don’t want to beat yourself like we did two years ago,” he said. “You’ve got to cut out the mistakes and we have to tackle. Last year Prealow was able to run right through our line, and we have to be able to wrap him up.”
And Nation said this team has the right attitude to eliminate those mistakes. Led by senior quarterback Zach Long and backs Imond Robinson and A’erion Hines, the Tigers are a laid-back group that won’t get caught up in the pressure of going to face an old foe on the road in the state quarterfinals.
“The only pressure is what you apply to yourself,” Nation said. “Heck, with Zach, he’s so laid-back sometimes you have to check his pulse to see if he’s still alive, and Bam [Robinson] and A’erion are the same way.”
It’s a trait that has served the Tigers well all season, with the trio keying the squad’s run and serving as steady leaders for the rest of the team.
One person who has benefited from that leadership is Gavin Nadeau, the only sophomore starter on the team. A year ago, Nadeau watched his team fall from the sidelines, and he saw the steady leadership the seniors brought out of that game and to the team this year.
Come Friday, Nadeau will get a chance to change the narrative this time around.
“The upperclassmen really brought me under their wing,” he said. “We know it’s going to be a really intense game, and know what we need to do to stop them and come back with a win this time.”
Corbin HoslerFollow me @Chosler88chosler@normantranscript.com