By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Much has been made of the Norman North offense this season. The Timberwolves average more than 40 points a game and have threats all over the field. They’ve shown difficulty responding when challenged and are a big reason why the Timberwolves finished the regular season 7-3 and defended their District 6A-3 title.
Maybe most impressively is how, even after losing quarterback David Cornwell, the offense continued to chug along under junior John Kolar.
But it’s the Timberwolves on the other side of the ball that may have made the most important strides for North.
The numbers aren’t outstanding. The Timberwolves have given up yardage to opponents and are still allowing more than 30 points a game.
But the numbers aren’t the whole story. North’s pass-heavy offense extends games, giving both teams more snaps than is common in a typical game. That means the defense is asked to hold teams than most other units in Class 6A.
Even still, the improvement is evident. North hasn’t allowed more than 35 points to an opponent in five weeks, after each of its first five opponents accomplished the feat. The Timberwolves shut out U.S. Grant and allowed just 14 to Moore two weeks ago.
The improvement has come from a variety of sources. North has used several key offensive players on defense this season, including Trey Wormington, Tyler Sipe and Nick Basquine. Several freshmen have stepped up as well, including linebacker Wyatt Medina.
Injuries are slowly becoming less of an issue. North was plagued by injuries early in the season but has gotten some help in that area in the last few weeks. Junior Zachary Pace returned several weeks ago, as did Trevor Magee.
The result has been a unit that has come up with more and more big plays as the season has progressed. The Timberwolves forced four turnovers in the 49-32 victory over Lawton Eisenhower on Friday, including an interception that Tyler Sipe returned 65 yards for a score.
North has also made progress in eliminating the big play. Teams were able to gouge the T-Wolves for long plays early in the season, but North allowed just one play of more than 25 yards against the Eagles.
It’s the continuation of a trend that has seen the defense at times carrying the offense, the same formula that took North to the state championship a year ago. And it’s a long way from where the Timberwolves were in the first few games of the season, when Norman High and Westmoore ran roughshod over the unit.
“They continue to get better every week,” coach Wade Standley said of his defense. “That’s been very important us, and will continue to be.”
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