NORMAN — “All in.”
That’s how it all started at Norman North. It’s the mantra every T-Wolves’ player screams when they circle up before the fourth quarter of every game, and it’s the attitude that has brought the program to the brink of a state title game in just two seasons.
The reasons for North’s historic rise are myriad. There’s Jordan Evans, the full-time linebacker, full-time kick returner, part-time quarterback and running back, who seldom fails to be the best athlete on the field and never fails to at least play like he is.
There’s Peyton Gavras, the quarterback who missed nearly an entire season with a concussion but returned to the field this year with something to prove.
There’s Channing Meyer, a former transfer student who a year ago stepped into the role of quarterback after Gavras’ injury and led the T-Wolves on a surprising run to the playoffs and now seems to step up wherever the Timberwolves might need him on offense.
There’s Bryan Payne, who, despite his undersized stature, is able to keep defenses guessing as he weaves in and out of tackles.
And there’s dozens of other stories, all combining seamlessly to create the total package that is the 2012 T-Wolves.
Nearly every one of those stories shares a similar origin: They can all be traced back to the arrival of their new head coach.
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Wade Standley was hired at North on March 8, 2011. The former Tulsa Union assistant was coming off a head coaching stint in Kansas, and he was ready to move back to Oklahoma.
At North, he inherited a team that had won the district title in 2007 but since had fallen off, bottoming out with a 3-7 performance in 2010. When coach Lance Manning left to take over at Edmond Santa Fe, North administrators felt they had found the right man in Standley to rebuild the program.