By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Things certainly have not come easily to Norman North during its playoff run. The Timberwolves have battled stout defenses, explosive offenses, bad breaks and the notion that no west-side team could stand up to the beasts from the East.
The struggles have come on the stat sheet as well as the field. Each of the Timberwolves’ three opponents this postseason — Southmoore, Broken Arrow and Owasso — have outgained North offensively. North has even lost the turnover battle. But the T-Wolves have refused to lose.
It’s an odds-defying streak that makes North’s run to Friday’s Class 6A state title game against Jenks all the more impressive. And if the T-Wolves can’t reverse the statistical trend against Jenks, they hope to at least overcome the odds one last time.
For coach Wade Standley, the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
“Bottom line is we’ve been able to make plays in the playoffs,” he said. “In the end, we’ve made the plays we need to to win games.”
And the contributions have come from across the team.
Jordan Evans, predictably, has been a playmaker for the T-Wolves, making things happen on kick returns and in the Wildcat. He’s returned a punt or kickoff for a score in each of North’s three wins, but he's far from the only one stepping up.
Quarterback Peyton Gavras has been exceptional through the air, throwing for 391 yards and five touchdowns in last week's comeback win over Owasso.
Linebacker Jaxon Uhles has made an impact in the middle of the field on defense and even contributed to the scoreboard on offense with his ability to pound out vital yards on the ground, including a late touchdown against Southmoore that sealed the game for North.
Last week it was Channing Meyer and D.J. Gasso in the T-Wolves’ secondary, rising to the occasion on third and fourth down deep in North territory. Gasso came up with a huge tackle for loss and a pass break-up, while Meyer intercepted one pass and broke up another one.
“It’s someone different all the time,” Standley said. “It’s huge to have guys like that on your team. Not only do they have great heart, great character and play hard all the time, but they also step up and make a big play when you need it.”
None of which surprises North’s second-year coach.
“I get to see it every day in practice,” he said. “These guys have the ability to change games, and I’m not at all surprised when I see them do it.”
Heading into Friday’s showdown with a storied Jenks program, Evans said the reason the T-Wolves have been able to exceed expectations is because they don’t get flustered. It’s a trait that was on full display last week, when the T-Wolves rallied after losing a sizable lead and then falling behind to Owasso, only to respond with a string of defensive stands to eke out a 49-42 victory.
“Even if we’re down like we were last week, we stay calm,” he said. “We know we can come back and make plays, and that gives us some confidence when things go wrong. If that happens on Friday, we’re not going to panic. We know we have what it takes to come back.”
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