By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Norman North set two goals at the start of the season. The first — defend its District 6A-3 title — the Timberwolves have already accomplished. That leaves the second, and most important, goal the Timberwolves set: win in the playoffs.
They’ll get their chance tonight when they host Mustang at 7 p.m. at Harve Collins Field in the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs. The Timberwolves earned the right to host the first two rounds of the playoffs courtesy of their district title, while the Broncos enter the game as the No. 4 seed out of District 6A-4.
“Our main goal has always been to win in the playoffs,” said North coach Wade Standley, whose team is back in the postseason a year after a run to the state championship game. “You’ve got to get that first win in the playoffs to do anything else. We’ve had one of our best weeks of practice this week, and we’re ready to go.”
There was no shortage of drama in the regular season as the Timberwolves won several close games to earn the title. But after setting expectations of a playoff two years ago in Standley’s first season, and last year’s run to the title tilt, the “second season” is where the Timberwolves have made their mark on Class 6A.
“There’s just a different feel when you get to the playoffs,” Standley said. “You’re getting to that point you’ve been working for all season. It’s football weather now; it’s that time of the year for playoff football.”
For North to make any kind of a run this season, the Timberwolves (7-3) must first get past a dangerous Broncos (6-4) team. Mustang owns several impressive wins this season, including victories over Norman High, Putnam City North and Southmoore last week to secure a berth in the playoffs. The game is widely seen as the toughest 1-4 matchup in the state due to the depth of District 6A-4, where just two teams finished with losing records and six squads were in the playoff hunt in Week 10.
The Broncos feature an effective quarterback in sophomore Chandler Garrett and a dangerous playmaker in Frankie Edwards. Edwards started the season under center but coach Jeremy Dombek changed that in a Week 4 contest against NHS, moving Edwards to running back and also lining him up at receiver while Garrett moved under center.
The move made a dangerous Broncos offense even more potent, and Mustang rolled to a 34-14 victory in that game. That’s the challenge the Timberwolves now face, slowing Garrett while containing Edwards.
“Offensively, we have to start fast and take care of the football,” Standley said. “On defense, we have to be able to contain their big-play guys and have the ability to stop them on third downs. To do that, you have to try and be as sound as you can be in your role.”
One Timberwolves’ player who will be getting his first postseason start is quarterback John Kolar. The junior has spent much of the week watching Mustang’s defense on film, and he’s confident he’s ready to lead the Timberwolves to a new playoff run.
“I’ve got to know everything that’s going on, know all their blitzes and looks,” he said. “As the quarterback, if you don’t know what you’re doing the offense doesn’t know what it’s doing. There’s no nervousness; we all have each others’ backs.”
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