High school football notepad: Norman High stacked with veteran leaders at linebacker

Joe Buettner / The Transcript

Norman High senior linebacker Cole Thompson runs off the field during a NHS practice on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, at Harve Collins Field. Thompson will be a key leader for the Tigers defense.

Taking a play off isn’t an option for Norman High’s linebackers.

The group understands their role as leaders on defense but they also don’t want to disappoint their head coach, Rocky Martin.

“Coach Martin, he played linebacker in college, so we have a lot riding on us,” said senior linebacker Cole Thompson. “We don't want to mess up or slack off.”

Thompson, who’s committed to play football at Oklahoma State, doesn’t mind the added pressure.

The defense already holds itself to a high standard. Martin’s background as a former Colorado State football player is merely a bonus.

“I prefer it because he's been through it,” Thompson said. “He's gone through it. So, I trust him and he knows what he's talking about.”

Martin expects Thompson, who plays inside, and senior outside linebacker Cedric Seals to help boost the Tigers, who are trying to build off a 6-5 finish in 2018.

“They're both tremendous athletes, they're really good at what they do,” Martin said. “... At their specific position, they're as good as any in the state. They fly around. They're hard to block. They read well, they're smart football players. They get after it.”

• Early exit drives Sparks, NHS: NHS doesn’t need a reminder of its first-round exit last season.

The Tigers have talked about last year’s season-ending loss to Owasso in the 6A state playoffs plenty this offseason, says senior Ben Sparks.

The offensive lineman, who’s committed play football at SMU, says the loss has fueled the offense, which averaged 25.7 points per game in 2018, to be the best unit in Oklahoma.

"We want to be the best offense in the state,” Sparks said. “We did pretty well last year but we want to do even better. It wasn't enough. We got kicked out in the first round so we definitely want to do well enough to where we can go to state pretty easily."

• A ‘Perfect’ weekend for Horton: NHS senior quarterback Cade Horton missed the team’s first day of fall camp to participate in the Perfect Game All-American Classic on Sunday.

The OU football and baseball commit was selected to participate in the national high school baseball all-star game, which was held at Petco Park in San Diego, California.

Horton helped the West squad win 4-2 and was one-for-one at the plate.

He’ll return to practice Tuesday.