By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Jalen Adams has been waiting the entire offseason. The day after Southmoore was defeated in the playoffs by Norman North, he already began the countdown to opening day of the 2013 season.
The countdown ends at 7 p.m. today when the SaberCats face defending 5A state champions Carl Albert in both teams’ season opener at Moore Stadium.
“The best team is going to win,” Adams said. “The one that works hard, makes the least mistakes, least penalties. We are going to go out there and see what we can do. The one who goes out there and puts their foot down and shows who is boss.”
Southmoore defeated the Titans last year to begin the season. It was one of five losses Carl Albert suffered before going on a postseason run to win the state title.
Having a squad with the reputation of the Titans coming into their house to open the season is added motivation for the ’Cats.
“Obviously they will be well coached,” Southmoore coach Jeff Brickman said. “They will be very physical. They won’t make any mistakes. They won’t beat themselves. They will look to establish the run game and stop the run. Everybody knows who Carl Albert is. It gets our kids’ attention that they are a well-known team that has had lots of success.”
The Titans are led by quarterback Stevie Thompson , who rushed for 1,926 yards and 36 touchdowns last season, while passing for another 1,400 yards.
While Carl Albert comes into the game with experience under center, that is not the case for the ’Cats. After months of competition that began during the spring, it was freshman Conner Uselton who earned the starting nod at quarterback for Southmoore. He becomes the third starting QB in school history behind Kendal Thompson and Tre Edwards.
“Conner graded out the highest consistently of the three traditional quarterbacks,” Brickman said. “He will get the start at the quarterback spot. If he does what he has done in the scrimmages, we feel confident in what he can do. Obviously, games are a little bit different.”
The 6-foot-2, 156-pound Uselton believed he had a chance to secure the starting job when camp started, but was still surprised when he got word he had beat out sophomore Reid Thompson and senior Jace Williams.
“It’s pretty big,” Uselton said. “Going to do my best and just go out there and compete and see what happens. I am very excited. I have enough confidence. I think I can do it. I thought I had a chance. I really didn’t know I was going to start. I knew I had the capabilities. I was very excited. Happy to be able to lead the team and see what I can do.”
Uselton’s teammates know playing in a varsity game is quite different from the junior high games he is used to. Adams plans to make sure Uselton knows he doesn’t have to do it alone.
“Helping him in those hard situations,” Adams said. “When it comes down to the end of the game and he’s getting nervous, just pick him up and say, ‘Hey, I’m here with you. Let’s keep fighting. We are going to get through this.’ If he throws a bad ball, try to make the best of it. Try to make his job easier. Let him know he doesn’t have to be nervous and that I’m here with you. I am going to take care of you, protect you. I’m here with you.”
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