NORMAN — If last week’s loss to Yukon was disappointing, Friday’s loss to Mustang was demoralizing for Norman High.
For the fourth straight game, the Tigers started slow out of the gate, and for the second straight week they were unable to climb out of the hole. After Friday’s 34-14 loss to Mustang, NHS fell to 2-2 and 0-1 in district play.
But what is most distressing for the Tigers is the manner the losses have come in. After failing to gain a first down in the first quarter last week against Yukon, the Tigers gained just one in the first quarter Friday and two in the first half.
Worse still, the problems the Tigers are creating for themselves aren’t going away. NHS’ offense has grown progressively less explosive as the season has gone on. Part of that is the defenses the Tigers are playing against, but most of it is the mental mistakes the Tigers can’t seem to avoid. Penalties, bad decision-making and a basic failure to connect on blocks have doomed NHS in the losses.
But the problems go back further than that. Coaches said before the Tigers’ Week 2 game against Moore that practice had been lackluster, and that showed against the Lions, who took a 10-0 lead before a pair of special teams touchdowns bailed out NHS and allowed them to take control of the game.
Coach Greg Nation said his team is at a turning point, one that will decide whether the Tigers make a playoff run or quietly fall out of the district race.
“Our goals are all still in reach,” he said after watching his team put up just 170 total yards of offense on Friday. “But this is a big moment for our team. This was a shot. Are we going to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off?
“It has nothing to do with anyone but us right now. We’re missing too many assignments and making bad decisions. We’re going to go back to the drawing board, figure out what it is we can do better than anyone else, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Tigers have a week of practice to work that out and prepare for Edmond Memorial and star running back Warren Wand. With a win, the Tigers will keep themselves in the district race, while a loss would be devastating to their District 6A-4 hopes.
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