NORMAN — Norman North advanced to the state championship a season ago using a roster loaded with seniors. The Timberwolves will return to practice in a few weeks with a squad short on experience but full of the same expectations.
North has several key returnees, including Payton Prince and Tyler Sipe, but after graduating several key players a year ago, including quarterback Peyton Gavras, running back Bryan Payne and a defense full of seniors, the Timberwolves will introduce plenty of new faces this season.
The biggest name is David Cornwell, the quarterback who committed to Alabama over the summer and was recently cleared by the OSSAA to play this season after some eligibility concerns. While Cornwell’s fate was in limbo for some time after he transferred to North in the spring, he has spent time on the field with his teammates.
“He went through spring football and team camp with us,” coach Wade Standley said. “Those things always help. Obviously, when we get cranked up here in a couple of weeks we’ll shift into high gear with him, but we were able to work a lot of guys in the course of spring football.”
But Cornwell isn’t the only impact player who will make his first venture onto the field for the T-Wolves this season.
On defense, Standley pointed to junior linebackers Mason Bolk and Trevor McGee, whom he expects to lead a young defensive group similar to the first one he coached at North when he arrived three years ago. That group of juniors showed promise in his first season at the helm and turned into one of the more dominant defenses in the state a year ago.
“I expect those two guys to help us a lot on defense,” Standley said. “There’s a lot of guys we expect big things from, and those guys have had a real good summer.”
On the offensive side, the line that will protect Cornwell is full of young talent. Included in that group is senior center Jacob Martin and sophomore Walker Reed, both of whom stand 6-4 or taller and weigh 280 pounds.
“As we get into the season there will be a lot of guys getting experience together, and you want them to develop as a unit,” Standley said. “The focus is to get bigger, faster, stronger and come together as a team.”
Rounding out the new faces on offense is sophomore running back Quan Hogan, who was impressive in a few scattered appearances as a freshman, and senior Nick Basquine, a receiver who was a key part of North’s baseball team’s run to the state title game last season. Standley said both have been impressive and figure to be key pieces when the season kicks off in a month.
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