The Norman Transcript

October 11, 2013

Tigers aren’t out of playoff hunt

By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Norman High’s playoff hopes may be on life support after two district games, but they’re far from dead. And with a win against Choctaw at 7 p.m. today, the Tigers can get things moving back in the right direction after three straight losses.

NHS (2-3, 0-2) has suffered back-to-back disappointing losses to Mustang and Edmond Memorial to open district play, after a loss to Yukon in the final non-district game. The rough start has come as a result of poor decisions, poor blocking and tackling, a spate of penalties and last week, a barrage of fumbles.

All are mistakes the Tigers have inflicted upon themselves, and all are correctable. But if NHS is to continue its streak of playoff appearances under coach Greg Nation, the Tigers have to start winning now. With games against Edmond Santa Fe, Lawton and Southmoore, all teams ranked in or around the top 10, the Tigers can’t afford to drop a game to anyone else on their schedule.

But there are signs of improvement at NHS. Outside of the fumbles in last week’s loss to Edmond Memorial, the Tigers largely cleaned up their game. They committed just three penalties in the loss and executed their offense much more smoothly, though the fumbles kept them from ever taking control of the game.

But there is still time for NHS to turn around the season. If the Tigers can eliminate the mistakes this week they will have a chance to pick up their first district win, and more important, some momentum.

“We’re still upbeat, and practice has been going well,” Nation said. “Our challenges have changed a little bit, but our kids still have the vision of what we can do.”

Nation is realistic about his team’s playoff goals. A district championship is almost assuredly out of the picture, but a run to the top four of the loaded District 6A-4 is still realistic.

“Our chances are damaged, but we’re not out of the hunt,” he said. “We still have goals that we’ve set for ourselves, and we’re working toward those.”

The Tigers could get a boost if running back Darius Manning is able to return to the lineup. Manning, who formed one-half of a fearsome running back duo at the beginning of the season, has missed the last several weeks with an injury. But the back will revisit the doctor’s office before kickoff and could be cleared to play.

He would join Dupree Young, who after struggling to hold onto the ball last week and left the game in the second half, refocused his efforts in practice. Nation said the coaches still trust Young with the ball and will have him in the backfield come kickoff.

Corbin Hosler

Follow me @Chosler88