“It’s just a great opportunity to put our players in a situation that carries a lot of weight,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity it see how the players react when pressure is high and emotion is high.”
That stuff works for North, too. Still, for both sets of Timberwolves, there’s more going on.
A year ago, the North girls fell to Edmond Memorial. That meant they were on the road the second week of the playoffs, a game they lost at Putnam City North. Rother believes his squad can win a state title this season or, at least, advance beyond round eight where his season ended last year.
That means staying home the first two weeks of the playoffs, which demands winning a district crown, which demands beating Memorial in the regular season, which, sort of, demands beating Norman High tonight, because who wants to come back from spring break to play Memorial coming off a Crosstown Clash loss?
“If you play this game and win, it’s a boost,” Rother said. “And our most difficult game of the season is probably our first game after spring break, against Edmond Memorial, so it’s even more important for us to have as much momentum as we can going into that game.”
Winning the Clash can seem like everything, but it can also be a stepping stone. The North girls want it to be a stepping stone.
Enter the North boys (1-1), who are coming off a home-field shootout loss to Broken Arrow.
Or, the NORTH BOYS!
Because that’s what it’s like when you’re the defending state champ and the defending (albeit kind of mythical) national champ.
On the pitch, North is Sooner football and one loss matters and two losses are unthinkable. When you’re used to being at the very top, there’s more to lose.