NORMAN — One game into the season, Norman High looked like it might compete for the District 6A-4 championship. One month into district play, the Tigers looked like they might miss the playoffs entirely. Entering tonight’s game against No. 3 Lawton, NHS is still alive and fighting for a playoff berth.
The in-between has defined a Tigers’ season that easily could have been written off after a 1-3 start in district play.
NHS started with a big win over Norman North in the season-opening Crosstown Clash but quickly faded. The Tigers lost a close game to Yukon and then failed to compete at all in crippling losses to Mustang and Edmond Memorial early in the district season.
Hobbled by numerous injuries, including the loss of running back Darius Manning, many thought the Tigers were left for dead after that stretch. In what some viewed as a rebuilding season for NHS, the Tigers could have folded down the stretch and missed the playoffs for the first time in half a decade.
But the Tigers proved the doubters wrong. NHS responded with an upset victory over No. 5 Edmond Santa Fe despite a rash of injuries and cruised to a win over Putnam City West last week to put themselves in position to change the narrative this week. With a win over Lawton (9-0, 6-0), which locked up the district title last week and may rest injured quarterback Dallas Sealey, NHS (5-4, 3-3) would likely find its way into the postseason by ending the season on a three-game winning streak.
“It feels good to be in this position because no one had any faith in us getting here,” senior Anthony Grimes said. “It’s been up and down all year. We were at the top after beating North and down to the bottom after losing three in a row. Now we’re inching our way back up.”