STILLWATER — Even Popeye needed spinach to defeat Brutus. The times Dylan sang about didn’t go a’changin very quickly.
So it is with the east-side behemoths who still rule Class 6A high school football.
So ends the ballad of this bunch of Timberwolves, a group after your own heart that brought a school together, and maybe even both sides of the Crosstown Clash, for one wild and wonderful ride.
That part of it, one hopes, won’t go away, at least until they’re on opposite sides again. And even then, perhaps, each side will have more support than ever, a carry-over from the T-Wolves’ historic journey.
Despite Jenks’ 55-20 victory Friday night at Boone Pickens Stadium, Norman North has still been the feel-good story of the playoffs.
The T-Wolves, though they lose a bunch of seniors, may even be the future, too, because what coach Wade Standley has built in two quick seasons may need some retooling next year, but it’s not going away.
Nonetheless, the future is not now. Past is still present. The time has certainly come for Jenks and Union to surrender control of the state’s largest class, but it may still be a long time coming.
Midwest City won the Class 6A crown in 1994 and again in 1995. Then came Jenks, six times in a row, and boy was it a great day when Union finally broke the hex. But all Union did was join Jenks at the top. Ever since, it’s been the Trojans and the Redskins, like taxes and death. If they make a mini-series about the last 17 years of top-level high school football in Oklahoma, they could call it How The West Was Done.
But after four straight Union titles and Jenks’ own 2009 scandal, one that included head coach Allan Trimble suspending himself, the Trojans probably feel like a comeback story, like they’re the little maroon engine that could.
They’re a plodding, unimaginative, simplistic and absolutely dominating football machine.
No fun to watch, impossible to root for unless you call them your own but horribly and awfully effective.
The Trojans are the late 60s Packers, the middle 70s Sooners and probably that Notre Dame team Grantland Rice wrote about, too.
Only the Irish needed four horseman and Jenks only one, Trey’Vonne’ Barr’e, who has more apostrophes in his name than North had touchdowns, at least until the first play of the second half, when Peyton Gavras found Jake Higginbotham for 61 yards on a crossing route, but only brought the deficit to a cool 28 points, 41-13.
He ran for 290 yards on 22 carries, only six of which, for 20 yards, came in the second half.
It wasn’t like North was so far away. The T-Wolves had to take chances and that meant throwing deep, and Friday night, that meant five Peyton Gavras interceptions. Not one of them was of the pull-your-hair-out variety. Instead, they were plotted as reasonable risks in a game that demanded taking them.
Mostly, it was Jenks in the trenches, dominating a game of old school football nobody plays any more because national parity demands something more enlightened.
That’s not the case in Class 6A high school football in Oklahoma. It just isn’t. Jenks is Alabama. Everybody else is Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky or Arkansas. And Johnny Manziel is on nobody’s roster.
It is that kind of dominance that has some wanting a new 16-school Class 7A, because even if North, NHS, the Edmonds and Moores can occasionally make the behemoths work at it, the bottom half of the class will never have a shot.
They may be right. That may be the score, but it’s the wrong way to go. More than anything, because the West is bound to win again someday. Maybe next year, maybe the one after that, maybe in 10 or 15 years. When that happens, it should feel like a state championship rather than a conference crown.
It should feel like it would have felt for North on Friday night. Like a team after your own heart that from nowhere, bucked the odds and went from improbable to immortal in 48 minutes.
It’s something to look forward to and North has shown the way, all the way until Friday.
Clay HorningFollow me @email@example.com