By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — By day, Joseph Ross is an assistant principal at Brink Junior High. He teaches kids to play together and get along as he walks the halls.
But once the final bell rings and Ross puts down his coat and tie and picks up his whistle, his attitude changes. No longer is he looking for bright and smiling faces of kids who behave by the golden rule. As the defensive coordinator at Westmoore, he wants to see something completely different when he peers into the eyes of the players he directs.
“The guy on the other side of the ball, he might be better at Xs and Os than I am,” Ross said. “I don’t know. But I can tell you there is one thing he won’t be better at than me and that’s teaching his kid to be meaner than my kid.
“It’s just something I’m going to hang my hat on every time. Having my kids just flat out be meaner, tougher and more hard-nosed than the guys across from them.”
The Jaguars (9-2) will be counting on that when they face Lawton High (11-0) at 7 tonight at Lawton’s Cameron Stadium in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A playoffs.
The Wolverines enter the contest with Michael Warren, the leading rusher in Class 6A. The 6-foot-1 senior has 2,419 yards and 25 touchdowns on 247 carries.
“Without a doubt, he’s probably the best running back we’ve played all year,” Jags defensive end Jacob Tilley said. “He’s very fast, very shifty. He knows what he wants to do with the ball. We have to try and plug up the holes and make sure he’s running sideways and not running straight up the field.”
Warren and quarterback Dallas Sealy are protected by a mammoth offensive line that has punished opponents all year. It’s led by 6-4, 310 pound Jalin Barnett, who is regarded by most recruiting sites as the state’s top player in the 2015 class.
The Jags, though, are not intimidated. They’ve lost two games all season, to Nos. 1 and 4, Jenks and Broken Arrow.
“We’ve played great offenses all year long,” Ross said. “We’re the West-side team that went over to the East side and battled every one of them. My guys are accustomed to playing these type of kids. One of the things we hang our hat on is running to the stinking ball. I know it sounds vanilla and cliché, but we hang our hat on it.”
Westmoore is allowing only 94 ground yards per outing. Even more impressive is opponents’ 2.8 yards per attempt average.
Warren is averaging more then 10 yards per carry.
Outside linebacker Denver Beebe, who leads the Jaguars with eight sacks and is second on the team with 112 tackles, said the key to stopping potent offenses is to make them hurt.
“We’re small, but effective,” Beebe said. “We are going to come and hit you as hard as possible. We want you to fold. That’s what we want. It usually happens when our offense is making good plays and we are hurting the other offense.”
Westmoore slowed both Jenks and Broken Arrow, yet lost. Those defeats and the prospect of getting a rematch is added fuel to the Jags’ already fiery disposition.
“Our personality is angry,” Tilley said. “We want to prove something. We’ve always heard that Lawton has the best chance on the West side to beat those East-side teams. We take that kind of personal. We want to take it to them and we want another chance at Jenks.”
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