“We had a great freshman year and we were talking even then about, ‘Wait until we're seniors, it's going to be even better,'” Payne said. “I love this group. I wouldn't trade any other group for this one.”
Payne gives plenty of the credit for maximizing the ability to Standley and the coaching staff.
“He doesn't let us have any bad practices,” Payne said. “He doesn't let us have bad anything. We have great practices every day and keep focused.”
Having Standley come from Union — with a stint as a head coach at Liberal (Kan.) in between — helped bring what Standley preached into focus.
“You know Union is the football school,” Payne said. “We already knew we were going to go far and when he came, everybody knew he knew what we needed to do to get there. If it wasn't going to be our junior year, we were going to be right there soon.”
The Timberwolves showed improvement last year, going 6-5 and making the playoffs.
This season, though, Norman North really took off, with a 9-1 regular season and playoff wins so far over Southmoore and Broken Arrow.
“We're happy to be where we're at,” Payne said. “We're going to get it. We wish we were playing today. They're a good team but we know they can be beat. We've just got to stay focused, execute and not let the little things hurt us.”