Norman High’s Crew, Dax Noles bring lessons from father into homecoming game vs. Edmond North

The Tigers looked up at Lewis Field in Stillwater, the site of the 1992 6A state championship game. After a snowstorm delayed the game by a week, Norman High was set to rematch Lawton Eisenhower in its first state championship appearance in 31 seasons. 

 

The Tigers beat the Eagles earlier that season, but faced a tough rematch on a bigger stage. For Norman High, it was a chance to prove skeptics wrong against a team making their third state championship appearance in five seasons. 

 

Additionally, it was a chance to earn a special place in Tigers history as its only state champion. 

 

“I remember first stepping on that (Oklahoma State) field and thinking, ‘Wow, this is cool. We really did make it,’” said Jade Noles, a sophomore defensive back on the 1992 team. “The year before, I was always thinking about playing in the state championship game, and now I was getting ready to play in one. And then, we played an unbelievable back and forth game.”

 

Noles, Norman High’s backup quarterback, watched from the sideline as the Tigers beat the Eagles 17-14 on a game-winning field goal to win the state championship. Now, he watches the Tigers in a different way. 

 

Noles has two sons — senior safety and OU walk-on commit Dax Noles and Norman High sophomore quarterback Crew Noles. Another member of the 1992 team, then-sophomore wide receiver Jake Hartsock, has two nephews on the team, senior wide receiver Port Hartsock and sophomore wide receiver Haynes Hartsock. 

 

Ahead of Norman High’s (0-3) homecoming game against Edmond North (2-2) at 7 p.m. Friday at Harve Collins Stadium, Noles draws many similarities between his team and his sons’ team.

 

“I love their desire to sacrifice more than anyone else,” Noles said. “They’re committed. They do things beyond just showing up. That’s what I see in them. They work their tails off.”

 

Noles eventually became a starter in the 1993 and 1994 seasons, playing both offense and defense as a quarterback and defensive back. Dax Noles also plays both ways as a safety and a wide receiver, occasionally playing quarterback when the Tigers set up in a wildcat formation.

 

Dax Noles tries to emulate some of his defensive abilities from his father, believing he’s helped him improve his ball skills and become a better tackler. 

 

“He really helped me be at the play, every play,” Dax Noles said. “He’s making sure I’m always at the ball, always making the tackle and just outworking everyone on the field. 

 

While Dax Noles takes some of his father’s defensive abilities, Crew Noles takes some of his quarterback skills, believing he mirrors his father’s work ethic and attitude. 

 

“He’s the guy I look up to. I want to have his future,” Crew Noles said. “I really just want to follow in his footsteps and be the best version I can be.”

 

Similarly to the Noles’, the Hartsocks also play the same position as their relative at wide receiver.

 

Port and Haynes Hartsock say they’ve been taught how to burst off the line of scrimmage and find open space by their father, in addition to the similar work ethic lessons Noles taught his sons. 

 

“He just lets us know where receivers should be at all times,” Haynes Hartsock said. “It’s hard to follow in the footsteps of what he did, but he’s a really good character to follow for how I should be.”

 

 

 

In addition to on-field skills, Noles and Hartsock passed down off-field traits to their sons. Both eventually became leaders in their junior and senior seasons, holding players-only meetings after practice, hosting game nights and spending time with their teammates on weekends. 

 

Players like Dax Noles and Port Hartsock aim to do the same, gathering teammates for game nights at least once a week and inviting them to weekly FCA meetings.

 

Dax and Crew Noles also learned how to connect with teammates from their father. Rather than simply pointing out problems, both try to offer solutions in order to help others become better. 

 

Crew Noles believes it’s not only made him a better teammate, but a better quarterback, while Dax Noles believes it’s helped him become one of Norman High’s main leaders. 

 

Port and Haynes Hartsock feel a similar way, believing they’ve learned how to hold others accountable, give teammates proper advice and live their lives through their Christian faith from their uncle. 

 

“He’s definitely made us better leaders and more responsible,” Port Hartsock said. “I try to abide by all the leadership skills, like skills and techniques that he’s given me to succeed. I look up to him as my leader every day.”

 

Noles not only sees similarities between Norman High’s 1992 team and Norman High’s current team, but also between himself and his sons. While he and his sons consider themselves to be different players, Noles sees the resemblance in his sons’ competitiveness, work ethic and attitude just like he had when he played. 

 

In Noles’ mind, the combination of those things plus his sons’ talent will make them better players than he was. 

 

“They’re both going to have way more success than I ever did,” Noles said. “They both have this fight, desire and competitiveness to just be the best in whatever they do. I’d like to think I had that in me when I played, and I see it in them too. I think they’re right where I was and they’ll probably surpass that.”

 

More similarities between the three may come at the collegiate level too. Noles became a baseball player at Oklahoma from 1995-98 after graduating from Norman High, while Dax Noles accepted a walk-on spot at OU on Sunday. Crew Noles strives to do the same, hoping to extend the Noles family lineage with the Sooners.

 

“He’s worked so hard for it, and now he gets to live out his dream,” Noles said. “It’s exciting to know my son is going to play at the same university I did, and we’re all so proud of him. It’s going to be very special.”

 

Hartsock sees similarities in his relatives as well, believing Haynes Hartsock is a “spitting image” of himself due to his size and speed. When it comes to Port Hartsock, Hartsock feels he’s taken his own path, but that’s why loves watching him. 

 

“It’s special to see family out there,” Hartsock said. “Just having another Hartsock out there brings out so much excitement in me. It feels like they’re my own kids when I watch them and I get to celebrate with them.”

 

A Noles and a Hartsock were a part of Norman High’s greatest success. 31 years later, two more Noles’ and two more Hartsocks will try to replicate that success as the Tigers open district play. 

 

Much like in 1992, the odds seem stacked against Norman High, but it won’t stop the quartet from trying to carry on their family legacies.

 

“Our families are well known, so we just try to make a good impression and keep our name in the right place,” Dax Noles said. “Just keeping the legacy going is cool by itself, but I think it’d be even cooler to go up to my dad and say, ‘Hey, we were the last ones to win it all, not you guys.’ We want to break that streak.”

 

 

Gideon Canice

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