NORMAN — The “preseason” is now over, and the news couldn’t be better for Norman High and Norman North.
The Crosstown Clash gave a glimpse into both squads, and we came away impressed at the possibilities but aware of the roadblocks. And, as you would expect with two inexperienced squads, the last two weeks have been both ups and downs.
Norman High (2-1) has put together three slow starts, and it finally caught up to them on Friday at Yukon, where the slow start allowed the Millers time to climb back into the game and eventually take the lead. For all of the Tigers’ explosiveness on offense, the consistency hasn’t been there.
It’s a similar story at North. While the offense has been putting up points, the defense hasn’t made enough stops for it to matter much. After giving up 38 points in Week 1 to NHS, the Timberwolves (1-2) seemed to make progress against Del City in Week 2. Despite giving up 38 points again, they came through with a late stop that allowed them to win the game. But the defensive struggles resurfaced last week, with the T-Wolves forcing Westmoore into just one punt on Friday night.
Nor have they been able to catch much of a break. Injuries have surrounded this team from the start, from Mason Volk missing part of the preseason to Trevor and Trace Magee both missing Friday’s contest against Westmoore.
So with district play upon us, with North taking a trip to Midwest City while the Tigers travel to Mustang, a fresh start is something both squads could use. Not that it’s going to get any easier. Mustang (2-1) lost only to Yukon, the same team that topped the Tigers by two points on Friday. A newly-resurgent Midwest City (3-0) is ranked tenth in the state and owns a win over No. 6 Edmond Santa Fe.
Both Tigers and Timberwolves face a much more difficult path to the playoffs this season than in years past, and that battle begins this week. North faces a District 6A-3 that, besides undefeated Midwest City, also has a host of improved teams including Yukon and Edmond North. NHS, meanwhile, faces one of the tougher districts in the state, with No. 4 Lawton and No. 6 Edmond Santa Fe sitting at the top and much-improved teams in Edmond Memorial and Southmoore all expected to compete with NHS for a playoff berth.
Reflecting on his team’s loss to Yukon, NHS coach Greg Nation said that the best thing that happened is that his team is now 0-0 and “the NFL preseason just finished. They don’t worry about the preseason and we don’t either. The next seven games are what matters and that’s what we’re excited about.”
Excitement is good; continued improvement is better. And that’s what both teams will need, beginning this week, if they want to follow up on last year’s success with more this season.
It all comes down to district play, and district play comes to us this week.
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