Sep. 16—You can make a case that Norman High's football schedule isn't getting any harder, though you might struggle to make one it's getting easier.
Mustang (1-1) visits Harve Collins Field at 7 p.m. Friday and though the Broncos are not unbeaten, their only loss came last week at Stillwater, 32-28, against a Pioneer team ranked No. 2 in Class 6A-II, one that had its way against the Tigers in scrimmage action one week before the regular season began.
What NHS coach Rocky Martin has going for him, despite opening losses to Norman North (2-0) and Moore (3-0), is real confidence his team can play at a high level, though it still has to learn how to do it for four quarters.
Defensively, said Martin, "We've seen some good stuff and then we've seen some stuff that we've got to fix, that we've got to get right.
"I think when we're focused on our keys and our eyes are in the right place and we're tackling, I think we're pretty good."
Offensively, it's a similar idea. Good stuff but not consistently good stuff.
"If you watched the last two games, we know for two or three quarters we ran the football pretty well," he said. "Even in the North game, we controlled the line of scrimmage for a couple quarters where I thought our offensive line played really well."
Martin offered one thing, too, emblematic of what hasn't worked in chunks for his offense over the Tigers' first two games.
"We don't want Tias to be our leading rusher," he said.
"Tias" is Tias McClarty, the second-year junior starting quarterback who frequently embarrasses opposing defenses, but who helms an offense that wants to spread things out more than it has.
McClarty has completed half of his 36 passing attempts for 266 yards and a touchdown without an interception, but has absolutely dominated NHS' running game, making his 48 carries go for 285 yards or 168 more than any Tiger running back.
Getting off some big gains, Xavier Shackelford has carried 14 times for 117 yards and Devin Alexander 19 times for 65.
Yet another example of the need to spread it around are the Tigers' receiving numbers. After Edric Lambert's seven catches for 114 yards, nobody has caught more than three and the most productive of those to catch that many are the running backs, Alexander and Shackelford at 21 and 16.3 per catch, respectively, rather than wideouts.
"I think it starts up front," Martin said. "Obviously, we need to be able to control the line of scrimmage. We need to be able to run the football and that will open up the passing game."
It may not matter until it turns into victories, but Martin is sure the Tigers are making gains.
"This week, we've had two really good practices, especially offensively, up front," he said. "So ... we are improving, daily, and that's what you want."
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