NORMAN — It’s already a landmark year for Norman North. The Timberwolves have climbed to No. 4 in the Class 6A rankings and are considered by many to be the best team from this side of the state. North has to win just one of its two remaining games to secure a district championship and it would take the unlikeliest of scenarios for the T-Wolves (7-1, 5-0) to fall any further than second place in District 6A-3.
That means there will be playoff football played in Norman, and anticipation is running high in the North locker room.
“I can’t even describe the excitement level,” senior Bryan Payne said. “We’re just ready for the playoffs to begin.”
But that start is still two weeks away, and there is plenty of regular-season football left for North. With the T-Wolves’ next two opponents sitting at a combined 4-12, it’s understandable that they are playing with an eye to the future. But that doesn’t mean the Timberwolves are any less focused on the task at hand: Defeating Moore when the two teams meet 7 p.m. today on Harve Collins Field and secure a district championship.
And focus isn’t something coach Wade Standley is worried about his team lacking.
“You don’t want to peak in Week 8 or Week 9, so you’ve got to keep getting better every week, no matter who you’re playing,” he said. “And these guys are doing that. They come in and stay focused every day.”
Led by a large group of seniors, this Timberwolves squad has proven throughout the season that they are capable of staying focused on the task at hand. They bounced back in a big way after an early season loss to Westmoore, and they showed last week that it wasn’t a fluke.
A week after soundly defeating then-No. 4 Edmond North, there was a risk of a drop-off in intensity. But the Timberwolves quickly put those concerns to rest, jumping out early on a dangerous Putnam City North team and controlling the game from start to finish in a 34-7 victory.
“We talked all last week about needing a fast start,” Standley said. “And that’s what we did; we came out early and played well. I’m proud of the way my guys handled it in a business-like manner.”
In just Standley’s second season, North is off to one of its best starts in school history, and expectations are growing for a team that has demonstrated it can play with, and beat, anyone in the state. And a win tonight would guarantee a district championship and reinforce the belief that this squad may have what it takes to challenge for a gold ball and break the long hold the East side of the state has had on the championship.
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of the program,” Standley said. “People are excited about Norman North football, and it’s a great thing to be a part of.”
Corbin HoslerFollow me @Chosler88chosler@normantranscript.com