It’s all very simple.
That, or the opposite.
Norman High has two games remaining, both at home, at 7 tonight against Broken Arrow and the same time a week from tonight against Edmond Santa Fe.
NHS is 3-2 in District 6AI-1, in fourth place, a full game ahead of Yukon, which beat the Tigers on Sept. 24, tied with Edmond Santa Fe, though the Wolves have more district points, one game back of Broken Arrow.
A 4-3 mark tends to be good enough to reach the postseason, but the Tigers’ district is dicey.
Yukon has two winnable games in front of it, Westmoore and Edmond Memorial. Santa Fe has Enid, a game it should win, before taking on NHS in Week 10.
If Westmoore could somehow knock off Yukon, it would leave NHS in position to win tonight or a week from tonight to reach the playoffs.
Yet, if Yukon were to win out to reach 4-3, NHS were to lose tonight, yet top Santa Fe next week to reach 4-3 … it’s messy.
In that scenario, Yukon, NHS and Santa Fe, tied in the loop and having all beaten each other, would become three teams fighting for two playoff spots, leaving district points to become the decider, which could leave NHS out.
Also, and this is the most heartbreaking scenario, if the Tigers were to beat Broken Arrow tonight, yet lose to Santa Fe next week, while Yukon wins out — barring Santa Fe losing to Enid tonight, and Broken Arrow losing to Enid in Week 10 — it would also be three teams with 4-3 records vying for two playoff spots, yet the other two, Yukon and Santa Fe, would both hold victories over the Tigers, knocking them out.
The moral of the story?
Then win again.
The Tigers know this.
A couple of weeks ago, reported NHS offensive lineman Viliami Makahununiu, the personnel of the Tigers’ scout-team defense changed.
“At the beginning of the season, we would go our first-team offense against our scout-team defense,” he said. “Right now, we’re doing our first-team offense against our first-team defense, which just runs the scout.”
As though the coaches knew the end of the regular season would be a fierce proposition.
Linebacker Seth Wishon broke down tonight’s objective in the simplest terms: “We need to know our plays,” he said.
He meant lining up correctly, making the right read, knowing where you’re supposed to be.
They’re all the things coaches like to say are “correctable,” though NHS has reached the point in its season in which corrections must come now, not later.
Makahununiu offered another very specific note the players have been given.
“Our offense is focusing on physicality and shoulder-pad level,” he said. “Last week, our offensive coordinator, [Coleman] Ramsey, was [saying] everyone at every position needs to get their pad levels down.”
It’s an old football adage that he who gets the lowest, from tackling to blocking to attempting to break tackles, wins the matchup.
Earlier in the season, third-ranked Broken Arrow appeared to not be in the same class as its two biggest rivals, Jenks and Union, falling 38-28 to the Redskins and 31-14 to the Trojans. Yet, in its last three games, it’s scored 47, 45 and 47 points against Edmond Memorial, Yukon and Santa Fe. It needed all of them against Santa Fe, which put up 42 points.
The difference may be the emergence of Sterling Ramsey, who has seen more and more time at quarterback, sharing the position with Griffin Stieber.
Ramsey has completed 34 of 48 passes for 204 yards, while Stieber has completed 68 of 121 for 823. Ramsey, though, completed 21 of 27 for 251 against Santa Fe.
“We’ve got to move the chains, we’ve got to put drives together, we’ve got to have good field position,” NHS coach Rocky Martin said. “You know, last week [at Enid] … we hurt ourselves a number of times.”
That’s good advice every week. Yet, this week and next, the Tigers have no choice but to take it.”