By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — All eyes will be on the quarterbacks tonight.
The Crosstown Clash draws more scrutiny than any other game on Norman High or Norman North’s schedule, for obvious rivalry reasons. But beneath the typical Clash hype, there is another reason why tonight’s 7:30 contest at Memorial Stadium is captivating.
It’s the two seniors under center.
North’s David Cornwell, who is expected to start despite being limited by a still-injured ankle, has taken a long path to this game. He missed a semester due to an illness in the family; his family moved across the country more than once; he transferred into the state runner-up for his senior season and endured a long and public eligibility battle with the OSSAA. He’s also one of the top quarterback prospects in the country and has committed to play at defending BCS champion Alabama next season.
T-Wolves’ fan got their first look at Cornwell two weeks ago in a scrimmage against Edmond Santa Fe and their star quarterback, Oklahoma commit Justice Hansen, and they filled the stands in unprecedented numbers for a preseason scrimmage.
On the other side of the field is the less-heralded but no-less-dangerous Jakcob Dean, who moved to the position this season. Dean is a speedy and elusive runner who has dazzled in the Tigers’ preseason scrimmages as the signal-caller in coach Greg Nation’s triple-option offense.
Dean runs the ball fearlessly, and coaches let him. Nation isn’t afraid to call for a quarterback-keeper on long third downs typically considered to be passing plays, and that confidence comes through clearly in Dean’s game.
“I don’t care what down it is, with the offensive line we have I feel like we can get 10 yards on the ground on any play, no matter who’s running,” Dean said. “I know it will be a dogfight with North, but with the guys we have up front, I’ll take us against anyone.”
Adding to the intrigue is the vastly different styles the two bring to the game. Cornwell can scramble effectively, but he’s the perfect build for a pocket passer. On the other hand, while Dean is effective making the throws he needs to, it’s not his arm strength that makes the Tigers’ offense go.
Their methods may be different, but both have been stellar in the preseason, drawing praise from coaches and pundits alike. With the skill level on both sides, tonight’s game is more likely to come down to execution than anything else, something both sides know.
“This is OU-Texas for us; we don’t have to get our kids up for this game,” Nation said. “We’ve got to be more mentally tough and prepared. Jakcob has stepped up as that leader for us. The other kids look up to him. He’s not afraid to take the bull by the horns and lead by example.”
North coach Wade Standley knows much of any Timberwolves’ success tonight will be tied to containing Dean, a tough task for an inexperienced defense but one he said they’re ready for. And the third-year coach knows just how dangerous his own quarterback is, even if he may be slowed by a lingering ankle injury.
“He’s still limited in some areas, but he’s looked pretty good,” Standley said. “I know he’s ready to get out there and play.”
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