NORMAN — Last week, Norman High played the biggest game of its season. This week, they’ll play an even more important one.
In handling No. 9 Southmoore last week, the seventh-ranked Tigers (6-1, 4-0) put themselves in position to win the loaded District 6A-4 by remaining undefeated in district play with three games remaining.
But the next step on the road to a title is likely to be the most difficult. No. 6 Edmond Santa Fe (6-1, 4-0) will visit Harve Collins Field on Friday, and the Wolves look to be the most talented team on NHS’ schedule this season.
Led by former Norman North coach Lance Manning, Santa Fe defeated Southmoore 53-37 a month ago and rocked Lawton, a team that had been considered among the best in the west, 68-28 last week. The Wolves are the only other undefeated team in District 6A-4, with everyone else at two losses. Whichever team wins this week will have the inside line to a district title.
For NHS, the stakes couldn’t be higher. While the Tigers still have a game remaining at Lawton, Santa Fe is finished with the most difficult stretch of its schedule after Friday. That means that a Santa Fe victory will likely lock up the title for the Wolves and leave the NHS-Lawton game in two weeks as the game that would determine playoff positioning for the district.
“This is unbelievably important for us,” coach Greg Nation said. “They’re an extremely talented team that’s been ranked highly all year. There’s a lot of team speed there.”
One advantage the Tigers do have is that they are riding a wave of momentum after last week’s big win, the sixth in a row overall for NHS. After beating Lawton the week before, Southmoore looked like a dominant offensive team that could punish NHS, a perception that only intensified after the SaberCats marched down the field to score on the first possession of the game.
But the Tigers took the punch and fought back with a barrage of blows of their own, scoring 28 straight points to take control of the game en route to the 41-28 win.
“That was a huge win for our program and for our school,” Nation said. “Our kids recognize that, but they moved on. I can tell you there were 30-40 guys who were already thinking about Santa Fe when they walked off that field last week.”
That’s good news for the Tigers, who haven’t won a district title in more than 20 years. They’ve carried the momentum from last week’s win into practice and are ready for the opportunity to meet Santa Fe.
“Practice has been really intense because we know this is a big game for us,” senior Skylar Calhoun said. “We know they’re the only other team in the district matched up with us right now, and winning would put us on top.”
Corbin HoslerFollow me @Chosler88chosler@normantranscript.com