NORMAN — In a parallel universe that is a day behind this one, Southmoore and Norman North are playing in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs all over again.
The SaberCats, with so many fine athletes, are driving the ball up and down the field. But they’re not finishing.
If you were at Harve Collins Field Friday night, where Norman North beat Southmoore 21-6, you understand completely.
Thanks to North’s defense, a dropped ball here, an untimely flag there and the fool’s gold of being so enamored by the raw talent they put on the field, it just wasn’t going to work for the SaberCats.
They could have played all night and all night it would have kept going the way it went. Like Groundhog Day on the gridiron.
North struggled to sustain drives, quarterback Peyton Gavras was picked off twice and sacked a few times and the SaberCats picked up all those yards.
It’s probably no wonder. Southmoore’s athletic prowess was never in doubt. You try getting separation in the secondary against it. You try keeping your quarterback clean or living on three-and-outs against players like that.
For North, dominance was not on the table. Only winning. The T-Wolves won.
“We came into the game knowing that they’re not a normal four-seed,” North linebacker Beau Proctor said. “We’re not going to blow them out. They have amazing players.”
Yet North played like there was comfort in such knowledge. The SaberCats were bound to look really good between the 30-yard lines, but otherwise, not so much.
“Our motto after we give up a big play is bend but not break and that was what we did tonight,” said Jaxon Uhles, who plays on what seems like every unit and about 15 different positions. “Whether it was getting a turnover, making big plays, holding them to a field goal or blocking an extra point.
“Big players make big plays.”
They do, indeed.
Like their Crosstown Clash rivals the night before on the same field, the T-Wolves do have a flair for the dramatic.
They thought they had about the biggest play you’ll ever see when D.J. Hicks picked off a pass in the end zone and ran it all the way back to the other end zone, but a flag brought it back and the T-Wolves started at their own 6.
That gave way to a Gavras pick, which gave way to Southmoore’s only score, a 2-yard run from Jackson Stallings.
Then Uhles blocked the extra point. Then Jordan Evans fielded the kick at his own 16-yard line and went the distance, just like Hicks, only this time it counted.
North is an interesting team.
Gavras was limited by the SaberCats, but is a terrific passing quarterback.
North’s run game was suspect early in the season, but give credit to coach Wade Standley and staff, which did something about it, getting Evans, Uhles and Tyler Sipe involved — 29 carries, 119 yards against the SaberCats between them — giving them balance where they’d struggle for it before.
Then there’s Evans in the return game, a weapon nobody appears prepared to defend. And then there’s this defense that does what it has to do.
It’s a heck of a combination, in all ways, it seems, built for postseason success. And wouldn’t it be great to see it all come together?
Because Friday night was messy. Southmoore made sure to make it messy. The SaberCats were too good for North to create much flow offensively and too good for its defense to thrive on three-and-outs, but not so good North would be denied because the Timberwolves do too many things too well.
Broken Arrow is next.
One more chance for the T-Wolves to not only win, but really put it together.
They might have to.
They’ve got 10 wins.
Might as well make it 11.
Clay HorningFollow me @email@example.com