NORMAN — When Norman High meets Lawton on the field at 7 tonight, it will be a game that both schools, and many observers, have had circled since opening day of the 2012 season.
It was expected to be a huge game for both schools. The prevailing theory by many prognosticators before the season was that Lawton would be looking to clinch a district title and NHS would be fighting for playoff positioning.
But it hasn’t quite worked out that way.
Eighth-ranked NHS (7-2, 5-1) has looked to be every bit of an elite team this season, while Lawton (6-3, 3-3) has fought with injuries and transfers and finds itself in a must-win game simply to make the postseason.
Lawton enters tonight’s game reeling. Just a month ago, some polls had the Wolverines ranked as high as No. 1 in the state. But the extended absence of quarterback Dallas Sealey due to a shoulder injury didn’t do the Wolverines any favors, and they come to Norman after losing three of their last four games.
The most damaging of those losses came last week, when not even Sealey’s return to the field could prevent Mustang from knocking off Lawton 37-34. That created a four-way tie for third place in District 6A-4 and a plethora of playoff scenarios, all of which require a Lawton upset at NHS to make the postseason.
The Tigers, on the other hand, scored big wins over Southmoore and Mustang this season, and are guaranteed second place in the district behind sixth-ranked Edmond Santa Fe (8-1, 6-0).
With the game effectively meaningless in regard to the Tigers’ playoff standings, some may think that the players may overlook the Wolverines while looking ahead to the playoffs or that the coaches might rest some of its starters.
But that’s not the case.
“Our kids aren’t satisfied,” coach Greg Nation said. “Nothing’s changed from last week. They want to win, and they want to finish better than we did last season when we were 7-3 in the regular season.”
To do that, the Tigers will need to play one of their better games of the year. Despite the setbacks, Lawton is finally returning to full strength and the Wolverines will be desperate for a win.
“They’re coming with both barrels loaded, and they aren’t loaded with salt,” Nation said. “We’ve got to play hard and let the game come to us.”
The Tigers know the playoff situation, but the fact that they’re guaranteed one more home game doesn’t change the fact they want to win big on Senior Night.
“We know they’re coming in and they have to win,” right tackle Cole Ridgway said. “But we’re not going to let up.”
Corbin HoslerFollow me @Chosler88chosler@normantranscript.com