NORMAN — The Timberwolves talked all week about how versatile their offense was. Despite being pegged for much of the season as a pass-first-and-only offense, North’s coaches believed the team could get it done on the ground when they needed to.
And after a dominating 21-6 win in Friday’s opening-round playoff predicated on the rushing game, the Timberwolves made Southmoore believe it, too.
Behind multiple schemes making use of just about everyone, from running back Bryan Payne to wide receiver and sometimes-quarterback Channing Meyer to linebackers Jordan Evans and Jaxon Uhles, North simply overwhelmed Southmoore. The T-Wolves amassed 219 yards on the ground and controlled the clock from start to finish to key the win, accomplishing their season-long goal of winning in the playoffs along the way.
“This was a great team win tonight,” North coach Wade Standley said. “You’ve got to win the first one to keep playing, and sometimes winning the first one is the hardest. But we did that tonight.”
Evans led the assault for North, and at times seemed to will his team to victory. That much was made apparent by one first-half play in particular that set the tone for the rest of the game. After Southmoore’s Jackson Stallings scored from two yards out to pull the SaberCats within a point at 7-6, Evans made his mark on the ensuing kickoff. Southmoore tried to keep the kick away from Evans, and the ball came to the 16 on the opposite side of field from the linebacker. But Evans sprinted to the ball, nudged another Timberwolves player aside to field the kick himself, and promptly took it 84 yards for a touchdown, juking and sidestepping SaberCat defenders all the way down the field.
It was Evans’ second touchdown of the game, and Southmoore was never able to close the gap.
“Jordan is just an incredible athlete and football player,” Standley said. “He really put us on his back there early.”
Southmoore tried to mount a comeback in the second half. The SaberCats were able to move the ball very successfully against the Timberwolves, but they were unable to finish out the drives with points. Despite totaling 336 yards, Class 6A’s third highest-scoring offense wasn’t able to find the endzone, and North stopped Southmoore on four straight fourth downs in the second half to wrap up the win.
Still, it was a step forward for a team that finished the regular just 5-5 a year ago before going 7-3 this season.
“You have nothing to be ashamed of,” coach Jeff Brickman told his team after the game. “We bettered our record from a season ago; that’s a positive. And we won the city championship; that’s a positive too.”
Next up for Norman North is a home meeting with third-ranked Broken Arrow (8-3) next Friday. The Tigers cruised past Sand Springs 35-6 in the first round of the playoffs.
“We’re still after that gold ball,” Payne said. “Next week we’ve got to come in and do everything we did this week, only better.”