NORMAN — Coming into the season, there was already a buzz surrounding Norman North’s Z’Quan Hogan. The sophomore had shown flashes of brilliance last season, and had done so well over the summer that he already had major colleges showing interest and an offer from Tulsa.
But what he hadn’t yet done is prove it on the field as the primary option in the backfield.
But, after two games, those questions have all been answered. Hogan has excelled, even in North’s pass-heavy offense. When he’s not running the ball, he’s taking short passes and eluding tacklers all the way down the field. Through two games, Hogan has more than 400 all-purpose yards and hasn’t made any major mistakes.
It’s a blockbuster debut for Hogan, and it’s proven that even in coach Wade Standley’s throw-first offense the feature back has room to shine.
He wasn’t the only one. Receiver Nick Basquine had a strong preseason showing but was virtually shut out in the opener against NHS. He bounced back in a big way against Del City, scoring two touchdowns including what would be the game-winner on a deep pass from quarterback David Cornwell.
“We just had guys step up there and make plays,” Standley said after watching Hogan put up 208 yards a touchdown against Del City. “We had a lot of adversity but we overcame a lot of things.”
Kicking game remains impressive: Norman High’s senior kicker Matt Hockett has to be considered one of the top kicking prospects in the state, and he demonstrated why again on Friday night.
Mired in a sluggish first half against Moore, the Tigers needed a lift, and Hockett helped to provide it. He was perfect on the night on his kickoffs, with every one going for a touchback, and he also pinned the Lions deep in their own territory several times.
But it was a last-second field goal as time expired in the half that was maybe the most impressive play he made.
NHS took possession with under two minutes left in the half and drove the ball to Moore’s 36-yard line before spiking it with just a second left on the clock, setting up Hockett for a 46-yard kick. It was his second attempt at that distance on the night, with the first one coming up about five yards short after a bad snap disrupted his rhythm.
There would be no mistakes this time, at least not from Hockett’s end. It was another low snap, but holder Levi Fredrickson corralled the ball and got it down in time for Hockett, who nailed the kick with room to spare. It gave the Tigers a 17-10 lead at the half, a momentum-grabber that NHS would carry into the second half.
“For him to make that kick, it was huge for us and it was a great play all around,” coach Greg Nation said. “Levi did a great job getting the ball down, and having a player like Hockett who can make that kick is huge for us.”
Rules clarification from NHS game: One of the more head-scratching moments from Friday’s NHS-Moore game came in the second quarter on a botched field goal.
The Tigers’ Matt Hockett missed a 46-yard field goal, and the ball landed in the back of the endzone, where Moore’s Evan Sprayberry fielded it and began to return the ball. After several confused seconds, the rest of the players on the field responded, but it was too late as Sprayberry used a few blocks to go 110 yards for what appeared to be a touchdown. Officials declared the play a touchdown before huddling for several minutes to discuss, leaving the stadium in confused silence.
Officials eventually made the correct ruling, which was to award Moore the ball on its own 20-yard line. Under OSSAA rules, when a kick passes into the end zone, it is automatically considered a dead ball, and if the kick misses it will be awarded to the defending team on its own 20-yard line, rather than at the spot of the original snap.
Noble rolling into Week 3:
After defeating rival Tecumseh in Week 1, the Bears kept that momentum rolling into Week 2. They scored 43 points in the first half on their way to a 57-0 victory over Western Heights.
But what may be most encouraging to coach Steve Barrett is how his team got there. In his fourth year back at Noble after a previous coaching stint, Barrett said this is his most talented team yet, and the Bears are eyeing a playoff berth. On Friday, they showed exactly how they may go about that.
Cory Jennings, who splits time at quarterback with Dakota Boxwell, scored three touchdowns in the win, while Nik Wahl added three of his own. More important, the defense forced five turnovers in the rout and has given up just seven points through two games.
It’s blueprint that will be put to the test when the Bears travel to El Reno this week to face a team that despite its 0-2 record will be a formidable challenge.
Around the state: Looking at the rest of Class 6A, there was some clarity gained from Friday’s annual Jenks-Tulsa Union rivalry. The third-ranked Redskins led for most of the game before the Trojans scored a late touchdown to walk away with the 20-16 victory.
It was the second straight impressive victory by the top-ranked Trojans after a 27-23 win over Texas’ Trinity Euless last weekend. Jenks will get another look at one of the state’s top teams when it faces No. 5 Owasso this week. No. 2 Broken Arrow will now take its turn against Union on Friday.
On the west side of the state, No. 8 Westmoore travels to meet No. 10 Norman North on Friday. Sixth-ranked Edmond Santa Fe also will face Edmond North on Friday in the game that will decide the winner of the “Edlam” rivalry.
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