NORMAN — It may seem like Norman High and Norman North are playing with house money tonight. And, really, that’s a pretty good way to look at things.
They’ve gone about as far as anybody — you know, other than themselves — thought they might this prep football season.
So, no pressure.
They have everything to gain and nothing to lose when Broken Arrow visits Harve Collins Stadium for a 7 p.m. kick against North and NHS visits Owasso Stadium, yet again, for a 7:30 p.m. kick against the Rams.
But if there’s no internal pressure, it’s still worth acknowledging that about three-fourths of the state is rooting for the Tigers and Timberwolves tonight. For that matter, they’re rooting for Huskies and Wolves, too.
It’s quite the illustration, the Class 6A playoff bracket. In addition to the two hometown teams, Edmond North is at Jenks and Tulsa Union is at Edmond Santa Fe.
If you’re keeping track, you’ve got the state’s biggest high school, Broken Arrow, almost 4,600 students, meeting Norman North (not quite 2,100 students). The state’s second biggest high school, Union, more than 4,200 students, visiting Santa Fe (not quite 2,000). The state’s third biggest high school, Jenks, almost 3,100 students, playing host to Edmond North (almost 2,500). And the state’s fourth biggest high school, Owasso, more than 2,600 students, welcoming NHS (barely more than 1,700).
Put any two of the Normans and Edmonds together and you still don’t have one Broken Arrow. Put the two Normans together and you still don’t have one Union.
More than a few times over the years, I’ve written about how any day is a good day to beat Jenks, Union or Broken Arrow, the axis of high school sports evil in this state, and a few times the evil ones did go down. Of course, it’s always been on a soccer pitch or a girls basketball court.
Tonight is interesting because it’s not the Big Three but the east side’s Big Four. Owasso has joined the fray, and it’s hard enough dislodging the first three from their gluttonous athletic perch, but now we must worry about the Rams, too.
It’s a fitting night.
Edmond broke into three high schools in 1994. Norman broke into two in 1997 (and because you’re interested, Moore broke into two in 1988).
But not Broken Arrow, Union or Jenks. Like the fat guy at the dinner table, they have to swallow everything up. That way, you can make your high school look like a university, and your athletic facilities better than that.
Of course, such sentiments are expressed, it angers the eastsiders. They want you to know it’s not about how big their high schools have become, but about what they’ve done on the field. They think it’s all a coincidence.
They have every advantage. And still, their time is coming. It is always coming. It may be coming tonight.
The Tigers really owe Owasso. They really are better than everybody thought they would be. Who knew their ground game would get better and more diverse upon Donovan Roberts’ exit? Meanwhile, their defense has just sort of come together, which is often the case when something turns out great.
Then there’s North, which should really be 10-0, unless you think NHS should have won opening night. The T-Wolves have turned their running-game weakness into a strength all in the course of a single season, claim as good a pure passer as anybody could want in Peyton Gavras and has a defense that has lived up to the hype.
It may not be enough.
There is always that.
Then again, it well might.
Too bad they’re on the field at the same time because it’s a night for Tigers to root for T-Wolves and T-Wolves to root for Tigers.
Win tonight and we can sort out the rivalry next week.
Clay HorningFollow me @email@example.com