By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — David Cornwell’s injured ankle has already forced the senior quarterback to miss more time than he wanted. The injury, which Cornwell suffered on a goal-line play against Edmond Santa Fe in the first scrimmage of the preseason, forced him to sit out last week’s final preseason scrimmage against Southmoore.
But that frustration is likely to come to an end on Thursday. The Alabama commit is expected to be under center when Norman North meets Norman High at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
North coach Wade Standley said that Cornwell is officially a game-time decision, but that Cornwell wants to play and will likely at least give it a shot.
“He’s looked pretty good this week,” Standley said. “He’s still been limited in several areas, and injuries like this can be nagging. But I believe he will be ready to go.”
Everyone else, from both teams, is expected to play. The Tigers had several players nicked up, including linebacker Cale Stumpff, who took a sharp blow on Friday that kept him down for several minutes. But the senior said he will be on the field come kickoff.
“I feel good, and our defense is ready to go,” he said.
Backups ready to go: If Cornwell were unable to play, it would be junior John Kolar who would step in under center.
It’s an option that looks promising after Kolar’s performance against Southmoore last week. He may not have the height or sheer arm strength of Cornwell, but he was effective in managing the offense and made several impressive throws as he led the T-Wolves to a 7-0 victory.
On the other side, NHS quarterback Jakcob Dean has made it through the preseason relatively injury-free. But his backup, Levi Fredrickson, saw plenty of action at the Top of the World Classic last Friday, and made more than his own share of exciting plays. The most exciting came on an option read, where Fredrickson kept the ball himself and dove down the middle, picking up 15 yards before eluding several defenders to punch the ball into the end zone.
“I was really impressed with how all of the backups played tonight,” Dean said after the scrimmage. “They made a bunch of big plays.”
Tigers’ sophomore developing into threat: Norman High’s strength on the ground is well-known, but the Tigers believe they also have a strong passing game if they need it. And tight end Romero Gatewood is a big part of that.
The 6-0, 200-pound sophomore has quietly risen through the ranks this preseason, and announced himself on Friday. During the drive-to-score portion of the Top of the World Classic scrimmage, he caught two touchdown passes, with the second coming on an impressive running grab.
“He’s stepped up, and we’re expecting big things from him,” Nation said. “He’s going to contribute a lot to our offense this year.”
Kicking game favors NHS: Without a single game played, it’s difficult to compare NHS and North on the eve of the Crosstown Clash. But one player makes the kicking battle an easier call.
Tiger kicker and punter Matt Hockett is one of the state’s top prospects at the position, and has proven that since last season. The senior kicked a 64-yard field goal at a summer camp and showed last season he’s capable of burying teams deep in their own territory with his punting ability.
NHS coach Greg Nation places a premium on special teams, and that seems like an area the Tigers will have an opportunity to gain an upper hand in an otherwise evenly-matched Clash.
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