Northwest Classen running back Lorenzo Alexander walked off the field with only a hint of celebration in his face following a 56-27 district football win over Western Heights on Thursday night at Taft Stadium.
As he spoke, the frustration showed through even more.
“I'm happy that we're 1-0 in district,” he said. “But we can't play like that for the rest of the season or we're not gonna do good at all.”
The Knights have won three games in the first four weeks of the football season, their best start since opening 4-1 in 1971. They've already matched their win total of a year ago, which was considered a successful season on many counts.
But Alexander's words reflect the mood of a team no longer satisfied with simply winning a few games a year.
Northwest Classen piled up 497 total yards on just 43 offensive snaps. Alexander had 125 yards and four touchdowns rushing, while Fre'Darian Ashley had 106 yards and Corbin Richardson had 93, each with a touchdown.
But the joy was marred by sloppy play in the first half, primarily on defense, when Western Heights accounted for 264 yards and all 27 of its points.
It could have been worse, but the defense came up with a pair of red zone takeaways — one inside the 1-yard line — to ignite a turnaround.
“The kids started picking up the intensity after that,” Northwest coach Lloyd Smith said. “When we try to play passive and shadow people, we're not going to play well. The second half, our kids came out and played physical and got after it. The game shifted immediately.
“When the kids win and they're not pleased with it, you know your kids have a passion and a desire to win.”
The Knights turn their focus to a long-distance matchup in Week 5, traveling to Guymon, which was outscored 207-14 in its first three games.
Smith, familiar with long road trips from his days coaching in Texas, knows he has to start preparing his players immediately for what is expected to be at least a five-hour bus trip next week.
“You've got to get mentally ready for it and get physically ready for it, because you're out of your routine,” Smith said. “You've got a lot of down time, and you've got a lot of time to think, a lot of time to get your mind off of football. And that's the bad thing.
“It's gonna be a tough trip, but I think we can handle it. We've just got to start working tomorrow on their mindset. That's what it's all about.”