Every week through football season, SoonerNation writer Bob Przybylo will reveal five things he learned while out on the road watching the best in the Midlands area play football.
1. What more does Norman (Okla.) North linebacker Jordan Evans have to do for an Oklahoma offer? Following a dominant performance last weekend, Evans was even better in a statement-making 24-16 win against Broken Arrow, Okla., to send Norman North to the state semifinals for the first time ever. Evans had four sacks, forced three fumbles and returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown to go with eight more tackles. Sometimes the light bulb doesn’t come on for a player until his senior season, but it’s on and it couldn’t be any brighter for Evans right now. He was simply too quick off the edge for any of Broken Arrow’s linemen and showed he could run in space against the best Broken Arrow had to offer. He remains high on OU’s radar, but the lack of attention for Evans is starting to get a little ridiculous.
2. The second-best player on the field was also a linebacker, 2014 prospect Gyasi Akem of Broken Arrow. After a quiet first half, Akem dominated the second half. He had two sacks, forced a fumble and had seven tackles alone in the final 24 minutes. Broken Arrow changed Akem’s assignment from reacting to the ball to attacking the ball in the second half, and it made a huge difference. After a slow start to the season, Akem woke up and played like the top prospect many believe he is going to be. He made an unofficial visit to Texas A&M last month.
3. The stats won’t tell the story of how well 2014 Broken Arrow quarterback Coleman Key played in this one. Hounded by Evans and the Norman North defense all night, Key was 26-of-36 for 239 yards. He did throw one costly interception late in the fourth quarter, but he looked in better rhythm than in any of the three previous times I had seen him this season. Becoming a varsity starting quarterback was an adjustment for Key, but he improved as the season progressed.
4. Maybe the picture of the game was 2014 Broken Arrow running back Devon Thomas sitting alone on the sideline in the fourth quarter. His ineffectiveness was a microcosm of a disappointing junior campaign for the ESPN Watch List running back. Thomas finished with 57 yards on 18 carries but didn't make a huge impact. In the final minutes, he took off his pads, though I don't know if he was injured. Thomas was suspended the first three games of the season for unspecified reasons and never showed that same type of brilliance that highlighted his sophomore season. Things changed dramatically Saturday as Thomas confirmed his commitment to OU, however, as the Sooners have begun early in targeting the top in-state 2014 prospects.
5. There was a major Twitter war between Norman North and Broken Arrow leading up to the game. Two players not involved? Evans and Broken Arrow running back Cameron Wrenn. Both acknowledged during and after the game how good the other one is, and they embraced for a while following the game. Evans is the heart and soul of Norman North, while Wrenn became the guy Broken Arrow looked to all season. Wrenn caught a 28-yard touchdown pass and leaves Broken Arrow as the school’s all-time leading rusher.