NORMAN — You’re not supposed to root for teams in this business so you don’t. Few tend to believe it, especially the day after a Crosstown Clash, but what are you going to do?
You can, though, root for the story, root for the town and, though it may be a failure of the objectivity you strive to project, setting aside the villains is so much harder than setting aside the favorites.
So, here’s to the Timberwolves and their historic quest, which continues tonight at Union-Tuttle Stadium, where Norman North meets Owasso, the winner to reach the Class 6A state championship game.
Owasso isn’t the greatest villain but will easily suffice.
The Rams have knocked Norman High out of the playoffs three consecutive seasons. They represent the fourth biggest high school in the state with almost 600 more students than North. Mostly, they’re in the way.
Midwest City won back-to-back state crowns in 1994-95. Ever since, Class 6A has been a Jenks-Union operation.
I don’t know if the T-Wolves can knock off the Trojans or Redskins, but I know the Rams getting the chance does nothing for anybody, around here and pretty much everywhere in the state but Tulsa and Owasso. And, not only are state championships great, but playing for them are, too.
I remember Tigers and T-Wolves championship clinches on the pitch and court better than the ones that got away, but I remember the scene surrounding all of them. Every group of students and every community that supports that group deserves days like that.
Owasso probably deserves a day like that, too. But I can’t worry about that. Today, the Rams, representing too big a school from the wrong part of the state, suffer guilt by association.
It’s North’s day.
If you read Corbin Hosler’s piece in Thursday’s Transcript, you know the story of the T-Wolves’ two-year climb toward the top. It began with a narrow loss to NHS two Septembers ago and has only advanced since.
It claims a quarterback that remains underrated everywhere but within his own program, counts the best linebacker/return-man anybody’s ever seen since Hollywood Henderson — students, ask your parents, especially if they’re Dallas fans — a player who’s even become the talk of sports radio, because how can there not be an eventual place on a Sooner roster for a guy like Jordan Evans? It claims a defense that’s not only very good, but makes plays, too.
Altogether, it has the T-Wolves right where they always thought they’d be.
“We never wanted just a West team to win,” North linebacker Beau Proctor said. “Every time we talked about the West, we wanted it to be Norman North. We wanted to be in the playoffs, in the state final. We didn’t just want a team in the West to beat a team from the East.”
Coach Wade Standley had them thinking about winning it all before they even played a game last season, but he also knows some dreams are just dreams and some dreams become real.
“Before, it was looking ahead and you’d go as far as you can see, and when you’d get to that point, you keep going, and then you go as far as you can see,” he said. “I think we’re at that point right now, where you can see the end game to this. They know it’s here. You still have to go out and perform and get the job done, but they can see it.”
If North comes up short, that will be the greatest victory, that the T-Wolves went far enough to see the biggest stage, a football stage this town hasn’t seen in a long, long time. That kind of victory will pay off next year and the year after that and the year after that.
But why come up short?
The T-Wolves have passed every test, never beat themselves, have the kind of defense that keeps a team in the game and playmakers that can change everything in a flash
Sometimes, it’ s just time.
Here’s hoping it’s time.
Clay HorningFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org