It all comes down to this.
Norman North will travel to Southmoore for a 7 p.m. game Friday at Moore Stadium. The winner will advance to the playoffs and be rewarded with another week to play and a trip to Jenks for the first round next week.
The loser goes home.
The stakes, and the challenge couldn’t be made more clear for both teams. For North, it’s a chance to make it back to the playoffs at the end of a season that began with high hopes of competing for a district championship but turned into a struggle to simply play through injuries and stay alive for the postseason. For Southmoore, a season that began poorly and saw the Sabercats fall to 1-6 at one point could be completely turned around with a win over North to sneak into the postseason.
And records are one thing that mean very little Friday. North is 5-4 and hasn’t been competitive with the state’s top teams but is finally healthy, but the Timberwolves believe they have the talent to compete with anyone when healthy. Southmoore has won just three games this year but has actually been one of the most competitive teams against the top schools.
That’s been Southmoore’s calling card this season. Behind a powerful defense, the SaberCats have been at their best against the best. They gave up just 13 points in a 13-9 loss to No. 2 Owasso and seven points to No. 5 Mustang in a 7-3 loss. But the wins didn’t come for Southmoore. Outside of a win over 0-9 Moore, the SaberCats couldn’t put everything together in a single game.
That changed in Week 8, when Southmoore upset Edmond North 24-21. The SaberCats — led by freshman quarterback Casey Thompson, who took over the starting job in Week 3 — followed that up with a 27-13 win over Putnam City North last week. The late surge has Southmoore in a position to advance to the postseason even with a 4-6 regular-season record, if it can knock off the Timberwolves.
“They’re a lot better than a 3-6 record, that’s for sure,” North coach Wade Standley said of Southmoore. “They’re very solid defensively, and they’ve been able to stop people all year. We have to be able to execute against them and establish long drives and consistently finish in the red zone.”
If North can win, a showdown with No. 3 Jenks on the road waits next week. But Standley is keeping his team focused on what matters most: playing within themselves and continuing to get better as they head into what could be their final game.
“We’ve gotten better each week, and we’ve come a long way in the past month,” Standley said. “We’ve made strides, and we’ve gotten a few guys back from injury. You need to be playing your best football at this point of the season, and in a lot of ways we’re doing that.
“Our guys have always known what is at stake. We put ourselves in a little bit of a hole earlier in the season, and they embraced that challenge and will continue to embrace it this week.”