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Speed of several offensive standouts could help propel Norman to postseason

The Tigers have plenty of weapons offensively to quite possibly make lots of noise in 2022.

By Ross Lovelace  

Over the next few weeks, SBLive Oklahoma will break down high school football teams from the four largest classifications in the state in anticipation of the upcoming 2022 season. Here's our look at the Norman Tigers.

HEAD COACH

Rocky Martin

2021 AT A GLANCE

Overall record: 4-6

League record: 3-4, 5th in District 6A-I 1

Playoffs: Did not qualify

PLAYERS TO WATCH

FS/ATH Dax Noles, 6-0, 185 Jr.

Noles will be much more comfortable in the secondary after a year of experience and an offseason of getting bigger off the field. He’s a great baseball player, showcasing his versatility and athleticism. Noles is solid in coverage, grabbing interceptions in multiple games for the Tigers last season. He’s a player that will take on an extended role this season and could see a major boost in his stats and his stock.

Noles notched 126 tackles a season ago, and the Tigers will look to him to lead this defense in 2022.

QB Tias McClarty, 5-10, 165, Sr.

McClarty is an electric athlete that should be one of the stars of this Norman team in the 2022 season. He’s an experienced signal caller that can get the job done both through the air and on the ground. He’s a fantastic athlete and excels on the track as well. The rising senior threw for 1,086 yards and nine touchdowns while rushing for 1,569 yards and 19 touchdowns.

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Last season, McClarty was named the Offensive Back of the Year by the Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference for his impressive efforts leading the Tiger offense. He just recently received an offer to play at the next level from Mount Union in Ohio.

While he’s a quarterback at Norman High, McClarty is athletic enough to play nearly any position on the field. He could compete at a position like running back or wide receiver at the next level if needed. McClarty should lead a very speedy and experienced backfield, which could help the Tigers reach the postseason.

RB Devin Alexander, 5-8, 160, Jr.

Alexander is a shifty running back that could have a big season in 2022. He was a great piece for the Tigers last season and could see his role increase heavily. Alexander could also be a serious threat out of the backfield as a receiver, too.

He totaled 826 yards on 142 carries last season, finding the end zone eight times. Alexander’s speed translates in other aspects as well, as he was second in the state in the 100-meter dash. His blazing speed will keep defenses on their toes next season.

RB/WR Xavier Shackelford, 5-8, 160, Sr.

Shackelford is another speedy weapon in this Norman offense. He played a lot of running back last season and will form a lethal tandem with Alexander. Like Alexander, Shackelford could be a load to handle in the receiving game as well as a matchup nightmare. He rushed for 608 yards last season, finding 9.5 yards per carry. He also recorded a 4.5 40 time, validating his speed on the field.

With more reps and time on the field in store next season, Shackelford could be a fast riser. The backfield combination of McCarty, Alexander and Shackelford will be a wild amount of speed for defenses to handle. Those three can help the Tigers reach the postseason.

OUTLOOK

The Tigers struggled at times last season, and just missed the playoffs, but there was plenty to build on from 2021.

In 2022, Norman will feature a fast offensive attack that has plenty of speed in the open field. Tias McClarty will be the leader of this squad and has a chance to take a big jump this season. There were games last season where McClarty put the Tigers on his back, like the 250-yard rushing performance and six touchdowns in a wild 62-58 win against Mustang.

While it will be a more complete team effort this season, expect more big performances from McClarty and the offense if the Tigers plan on returning to the postseason.

The defense was the main struggle for Norman last season, giving up well over 30 points per game. With an improved unit and an added year of experience, though, they should be much improved.

If the Tigers' defense can continue to improve and hold teams from scoring loads of points, this offense should be able to score with the best of the best. Watch out for Norman as a sleeper team in 2022.