NORMAN — The Norman-Norman North rivalry is to soccer what the Jenks-Union rivalry is to football.
Granted, high school soccer is not on the same level as high school football. But in its realm, no rivalry has come close to producing the success, similarities and oddities of Norman’s Crosstown Clash.
As fate would have it, with the Class 6A playoffs kicking off tonight, both the Norman and Norman North boys and girls teams face each other with the season on the line.
An all-Norman playoff pairing is no shock. Before East-West cross-bracketing began a few years ago, the two schools routinely met in the semifinals. But this rivalry goes beyond bragging rights. It has almost always played a role in determining the eventual state champion.
And then there’s the quirks produced over the years.
"There have always been some surprises, and very frequently the things you predict will happen, don’t happen,” said Norman boys coach Gordon Drummond, in his 25th season with the Tigers.
It actually started before the Norman district split into two high schools. To close out the 1997 season, the last before Norman North opened its doors, Norman High became the first school to ever win the boys and girls state championships in the same season (a feat that has only happened twice since, once by Jenks and once by Union). And while school district splits almost always cause a dropoff in success, nothing of the kind occurred in this case.
In 11 seasons since the Norman split, one or both of the schools have sent a team to a state championship game nine times. In four of those seasons, the schools produced an entry in both the girls and boys title matches.
All told, in the 24-year history of prep soccer in Oklahoma, the Norman school district has had at least one team in a championship game a staggering 21 times. Combined, the schools have won 13 state crowns.
"That’s what made it so incredible,” said Jay Coleman, who played at Norman (1984-87), coached the Norman girls to three state titles (1995-97) and started and coached the North girls program (1998-2008) before retiring last spring.