By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Calling 2013 a season of surprises for Norman North may be an understatement. The Timberwolves have been through the gamut this year, with injuries, setbacks and more than a little late-game drama sprinkled in.
Through it all, one thing has been consistent for the Timberwolves — they’ve found ways to win. Now, they’re just two wins away from repeating as District 6A-3 champions, something that seemed unlikely after a 1-2 start in which North gave up 38, 38 and 45 points.
An opening-night loss to Norman High in the Crosstown Clash showed the holes North had early in the season. An inexperienced offensive line proved porous and a young defense gave up too many big plays.
Things seemed to be getting on track for North after a last-second field goal upset Midwest City in the district opener, but a season-ending knee injury to quarterback David Cornwell shortly before halftime against Yukon seemed like it may spiral things out of control for North.
But after falling behind 14 points in that game, junior quarterback John Kolar stepped up for North, leading the T-Wolves to a comeback victory on another last-second field goal. They followed that up with a big win over U.S. Grant and a huge win over Edmond North that put the Timberwolves (5-2, 5-0) in control of their own championship destiny.
“We knew John was going to be a good quarterback,” coach Wade Standley said. “He’s a really good athlete and there’s no question he’s come in and commanded the offense and made good decisions. I’m proud of the way he’s taken it on.”
That leadership has translated into a top-10 ranking and a chance to set North up for a favorable playoff seed for the second time in Standley’s three years at the helm.
It’s a similar story at Putnam City North. The Panthers struggled to an 0-4 start and weren’t competitive in several of those games. But the Panthers have caught fire in the past month and are a surprising 3-1 District 6A-3. That makes tonight’s game, which a month ago looked liked it heavily favored the Timberwolves, into a marquee game that could drastically alter the playoff picture. While a win would leave North with a comfortable lead in the district and two games against teams with a combined 3-11 record, a loss could see the Timberwolves fall as far as third in the standings.
In order to maintain control of the district, Standley said the Timberwolves will have to continue to fine-tune the offense with Kolar under center and improve the continuity with the receiving corps.
Tyler Sipe, an offensive player who made his first start at outside linebacker, bolstered North last week on defense, and the senior adds more athleticism to a defensive unit that has dealt with its share of injuries.
“Tyler provided a tremendous amount of energy and playmaking ability for us,” Standley said. “We played really well at times defensively last week, but we still have to cut down on the big play if we can.”
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