NORMAN — I think of Herb Brooks’ U.S. hockey team against the Soviets at Lake Placid. I think of Joe Willie Namath’s Jets against the Colts after the guarantee. I think of Billie Jean King whipping Bobby Riggs at the Astrodome. I even think of Boise State at the Fiesta Bowl.
I think of moments whose time had come … for the world’s greatest hockey team to be beaten, for the AFL to knock the NFL for a loop and change the game, for a trail-blazing woman to beat a smug, blustering, chauvinistic pig of a man and for a mid-major to prove it could excel on the BCS stage.
Also, I think of Norman North at Boone Pickens Stadium, tonight, against Jenks, a program that hasn’t won a state football championship since 2007, but that would serve everybody best by never winning one again, right along with Tulsa Union, which has won the last four and right along with Broken Arrow, which has never won one and doesn’t need to.
It is West vs. East. It is the underdog against the top dog, the upstart against the blue blood. It is Good vs. Evil. And I’m only barely kidding about that last one.
I’m not sure how it happens and I’m hardly sure that it will. Ideas whose time have come don’t have to happen. The forces of the staus quo can be too great. The resources of those who’ve grabbed power by any means necessary can make it unbearably hard to grab back.
What I know is Norman North should win. That the Timberwolves are just the kind of team primed to buck the odds. That they have enough good players and enough exceptional players in the right places to take down a team full of exceptional players.
And I’m pretty sure North hasn’t spent the gross national product of a small European nation on its football program, nor that some of the very best players ever to begin their lives in the Moore, Purcell or Newcastle districts have moved into North’s simply because Daddy wants his kid to play for the best, get noticed and be the big man at a Class 6A high school.
The T-Wolves are homegrown. Like a big league team built from the ground up, that never shopped for players or had players shop for it. A program that’s had to earn everything it gets.
North is easy to root for.
Rooting for Jenks is like rooting for the Yankees, the Belichick-Brady Patriots, the Kobe-Shaq Lakers and the Bradshaw-Harris-Lambert-Ham-Greene-Greenwood-Stallworth Steelers.
Rooting for the Trojans is like rooting for the rich to get richer. For Donald Trump to do something outlandish and stupid. For Tiger Woods to win another major long before his game, life and marriage hit the rocks as he backed out of his driveway.
North coach Wade Standley has been on the other side of the East-West divide as Union’s defensive coordinator. I’m not sure what that does for the T-Wolves tonight, but if there’s a good way for a very good but slightly undermanned group of upstarts to get in the head of an indomitable foe, he ought to know.
We know how special Jordan Evans can be. Maybe he brings two kicks back and spends his defensive night making plays behind the line of scrimmage. And Peyton Gavras is as accurate as ever, and Channing Meyer and DJ Gasso are johnny-on-the-spot as ever, and Bryan Payne can find some open field and Jaxon Uhles and Tyler Sipe, and Evans too, can pick up yards on the ground when he can’t.
The thing is, the T-Wolves don’t have to be the better team. They just have to be the better team tonight. Just tonight. A team of overachievers, they must overachieve one more time, make all the plays one more time, finish ahead one more time.
It’s asking so much, yes, but why should tonight be any different?
The time has come.
Clay HorningFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org