NORMAN — After a Week 5 loss to Edmond Memorial, Norman High's district record fell to 0-2 and its playoff chances were beginning to fade.
Running back Dupree Young blamed himself for the Tigers poor play. The senior had two fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown, in the 38-14 defeat.
But Young didn't get down on himself. Instead, he used the lackluster performance against the Bulldogs as motivation.
It paid off a week later. Young rushed for 304 yards and six touchdowns on 30 carries, leading Norman to a 49-31 win over Choctaw on Friday night and earning him The Oklahoman's Player of the Week honors.
“I was trying to make up for how I played the week before (against Edmond Memorial),” Young said. “I felt like I let us down on the offensive side of the ball with those two turnovers. I knew I needed to bring more to the table to help out the team. A 6A running back doesn't perform the way I did in that game, so I was thinking all week about how much better I needed to be.”
With the help of his offensive line clearing out space and the coaching staff calling the right plays at the right time, Young used his speed to break loose for several big gains against the Yellowjacket defense.
He scored on runs of 24, 25, 19, 60, 51 and 8 yards while averaging 10.1 yards per carry.
“I didn't feel tired, and I wasn't hurting at all,” he said. “I had some big holes and didn't really get hit that much so I felt good all night.”
Coach Greg Nation, now in his sixth season at Norman, called Young's performance one the best he's ever seen as the Tigers coach.
“The way he was running made (calling plays) easy for us,” Nation said. “He's always been in great shape, and he doesn't get tired. With him going the way he was, we just kept feeding him.”
Young nearly broke the school record for rushing yards and touchdowns in a game, finishing just six yards and one touchdown short.
“When I heard I was that close it kind of disappointed me, but I'm still happy with how I performed,” Young said. “Last Friday night will probably be one of my most memorable senior moments.”
The win over Choctaw has Norman (3-3 overall, 1-2 in District 6A-4) back in the playoff race. The Tigers host Southmoore (3-3, 1-2) on Friday night in another critical game for playoff positioning.
“Coming into the game, Coach Nation told us our playoffs start now,” Young said. “He drilled into us that we wouldn't be going to the playoffs if we don't come out and win over the next few weeks. That's the way we're looking at it right now.”