MOORE — As fans navigated the roads to Moore Stadium for the first game of the high school football season Thursday night, it was still quite obvious the magnitude of destruction left behind by the May 20 tornado, with flattened ground where buildings once stood, and plastic tarps atop roofs shredded by the storm.
Inside the gates of the stadium, students sold $5 T-shirts declaring that both teams were “playing for MOORE than ourselves.”
But at 7 p.m., Carl Albert's Blake Walker kicked the football, and the game became what mattered.
“The offseason was crazy,” Southmoore senior Pierce Spead said. “We were just ready to focus on football. We've been preparing for this first opponent, and we did our job tonight.”
The SaberCats' job was to win. Behind Spead's 131 rushing yards and two touchdowns, they got it done, 37-14 over defending Class 5A state champion Carl Albert Thursday night.
From the outside, maybe they were playing for their entire community. The team had 22 players lose homes and several other students and staff members who were impacted by the storm.
But on the field, it was about football.
“I didn't want to tell my guys that they were playing for all these people,” Southmoore coach Jeff Brickman said. “They lose that game, and they might not get over it. Young guys are so emotional. Just losing a normal game, it's hard to get them back up for the next week's game. So I didn't want to put that on their shoulders.
“We have the Oklahoma sticker on the back of our helmet, but other than that, I don't try to put too much on their plate.”