By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — You’re not supposed to in this business, but two weeks from tonight I’m going to have a heck of a time not rooting for Jakcob Dean, who will happen to be wearing the uniform of Norman High when the Tigers face Norman North in another Crosstown Clash at Owen Field.
Maybe because I’ve been to Bixby the last two years for Tiger scrimmages, where the twos get a good share of work, I’ve actually seen the guy play some pretty strong quarterback.
And, taking over for Zach Long behind center for the Tigers, the year after two-year starter Peyton Gavras finished up at North in the Class 6A title game, you would have thought the time had come for Jakcob to become the dean of prep quarterbacks in this town.
David Cornwell showed up at Norman North, on his way to Alabama, for one showcase season in Timberwolves’ green. He’s only the top prep prospect to come through this town … ever?
I’ll be shocked if 50 years from now, Ryan Broyles isn’t still considered best collegian to ever come through Norman, yet he was never the recruit Cornwell’s been, everybody beating a track to his door even before it was clear he’d have a senior season.
So, it will be difficult not to root for Dean, and not because the Tigers should be seen as some huge underdog. Cornwell is a superman prospect, but Dean’s a plenty good prep quarterback.
I expect a close game.
Also, I don’t expect Cornwell will need anybody rooting for him, least of all me, to bring whatever game he’s equipped to bring first time out of North’s chute.
I don’t expect it because tonight, at Edmond Santa Fe, is only a scrimmage for the T-Wolves and dang if the North quarterback isn’t about the most confident kid you’ve ever heard.
The last thing I asked him on the phone last night, just curious about his feelings about playing his first “game” in a North uniform, was what exactly would make it a good night for him and his offense.
“It’s tough to say,” he began. “I don’t think we’re going to show a lot. I think it would be dumb if we did. I feel like we need to go out there and be sharp, complete passes and move the ball. I feel like we’re going to have a good night, even if we stick with our base offense.”
He continued to talk as I typed, playing catch-up, when I heard some numbers come through my phone. I asked him to repeat them.
“Sixty percent completion, 200 yards and a touchdown,” he said.
It’s not like he’s Ali, calling his round, and still, friends, that’s confidence.
He has reason to be.
Earlier, he’d ticked off some of his receivers, asserting that, yeah, first year in the program and everything, but he didn’t think chemistry was any kind of issue, throwing to guys like Payton Prince, Tyler Sipe or Nick Basquine.
“I think we’re a little bit past the chemistry … I think now,” he said, “it’s really on my shoulders.”
He said he’s used to it. He said he’s the quarterback and that’s what being the quarterback is all about. If he comes out flat, should he ever, his teammates will pick him up and, anyway, “I usually don’t have a full bad game.”
Really, even if Cornwell had never come to town, this would be a pretty exciting time for prep football.
All indications remain that NHS and North both, have the staying power required to be two of the top programs in the western half of the state.
The season is right around the corner and this time around, beginning almost a week later than usual, anticipation will be hitting a pitch when the Clash finally kicks off.
And tonight, the real competition begins.
It was actually two years ago when North won its first half-game scrimmage at Santa Fe, signaling to the state they were for real. Well, tonight the T-Wolves are back, in part, to tell everybody they’re still around.
Then, Friday, NHS makes its annual trip to Bixby, where there will be so much football going on, you won’t know where to look.
Next week offers another round of scrimmages and then it really starts.
Cornwell should still have his confidence.
“I always love the pressure. In big games, I feel like I perform the best,” he said. “If people want to build it up that I’m going to be the one, then I’m going to put it on my shoulders.”