NORMAN — With just one week before the football season officially kicks off with the Crosstown Clash, Norman High will use the last scrimmage of the preseason to prepare.
And they’ll do it at home. The Tigers will host the fourth annual Top of the World Classic at Harve Collins field. The event, sponsored by Top of the World and Midwest Sports Goods, will bring eight schools to NHS for a unique scrimmage format. The event begins at 5 p.m., and varsity squads will take the field at 7:10 p.m.
The eight schools — NHS, Choctaw, Deer Creek, McAlester, Sapulpa, Shawnee, Stillwater and Noble — will compete in a combination of quick fire and drive-to-score exercises. The rapid-fire format of the scrimmage will have every squad rotate against the other teams rather than compete in a traditional two-quarter scrimmage game.
Six teams at a time will participate in the quick fire portion, where offenses rotate every play and defenses every fourth play. On the other side of the field, two teams will compete in the drive-to-score competition, where the offense is given the ball on the 40 and allowed three plays to complete a first down or score. If one team fails, the other will take over on offense.
The nature of the event gives the Tigers the opportunity to work against many different looks, and refine their own, something coach Greg Nation said was a focus in practice this week.
“We want to be sure of our schemes and make sure all our kids are on the same page,” he said. “As coaches, you spend the first few week putting everything in, then go back with an eraser and start taking things out so you can do what your guys are comfortable with. You want to play fast and you can’t be hesitant. That means you can’t do stuff they aren’t comfortable with.”
Coming off of last week’s scrimmage against Enid, one in which NHS showed it had plenty of offensive weapons with Jakcob Dean at the helm, Nation was pleased with what his team accomplished. The biggest highlight to the coaching staff was that, out of every play the Tigers ran last week, only one went for negative yardage.
But there were areas Nation said the team could improve before taking the field tonight, the biggest of which was their conditioning, something that will certainly be put to the test in tonight’s extended scrimmage.
“We went out last week and competed well, but I was slightly disappointed in our conditioning and our hustle, which goes back to the conditioning,” he said. “It needs to improve. Other teams, hurry-up offenses, won’t slow down for you on the field. Your conditioning is a big part of your success, so that’s something we’re focusing on this week.”
Of course, the Tigers are also focused on refining their patented option run game, something they rode to the second round of the playoffs a year ago and will hope to use to control the flow of the game against the T-Wolves next week.
“You want to use this week to clean up your mistakes and be ready to put it all out there,” Nation said. “We’ve got a week left.”
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