Northwest football is home to six national championships. For three of those titles, Adam Dorrel was the coach on the sideline. From 2011-16, Dorrel coached Northwest to a record of 76-8 and secured four MIAA titles alongside three national championships.
On the sideline with Dorrel, serving as the team’s assistant coach and defensive coordinator during the same six-year span, was Rich Wright.
Now, over six years since Dorrel’s departure to Abilene Christian, where the three-time AFCA Division II Coach of the Year has worked since Dec. 19, 2016, the two will once again be on the sidelines for the same game — this time, on opposite sidelines.
“We maintain a close friendship,” Wright said. “It’s no different, it’s just the next opponent on our schedule. We’re friends before this game’s gonna kick off, and we’ll be friends after this game is played. It’s not really about Adam Dorrel and I, it’s about our football teams.”
Dorrel joined Central Oklahoma — a team he was 5-0 against from 2012-16 — Dec. 5, 2021, and will be looking for his second win with the Bronchos against his former team Sept. 24, when No. 2 Northwest travels to Edmond, Oklahoma.
Wright started his sixth year at the helm of the Bearcats with three straight wins. Northwest won the first three games of the season with an average margin of 23 points. The latest win was a 24-7 triumph over Central Missouri Sept. 17.
The Bearcat defense held the Mules to negative three rushing yards and a mere 103 total yards of offense. As if it wasn’t enough for Northwest, five players combined for eight sacks.
The defensive performance against Central Missouri helped rank Northwest No. 1 in rush defense and No. 8 in total defense ahead of Week 4. The Bearcats’ first three opponents attempted a run play a combined 78 times and recorded a mere 34 yards — 0.4 yards per attempt. The ’Cats are also at the top of the MIAA in scoring defense, allowing 15.3 points per contest.
Wright said it’s obviously a pretty good day on defense when it only allows 103 total yards, but there’s still plenty of work left.
“We still got a long ways to go before we’re good,” Wright said.
The rush defense of Northwest might be put to the test against Central Oklahoma. The Bronchos have totaled 414 rushing yards in their first three games and are coming off back-to-back games of at least 150 yards on the ground.
With Central Oklahoma in its first year under a new coach, the team may still be adapting to the new schemes and system. Wright said he thinks the Bronchos are much better than their 1-2 record, and he thinks they’re only going to get better as the season progresses.
“I think it’s just the newness,” Wright said. “They’re growing. They’re trying to find their chemistry, and they're trying to find their people and their playmakers; just like we are.”
One of the playmakers on the Northwest offense through the first three weeks of the season is senior running back Jamar Moya.
The Bakersfield, California native has compiled 338 all-purpose yards so far this season and leads the team in rushing yards (193), rushing attempts (36), rushing touchdowns (2), receptions (17) and receiving touchdowns (2).
“It’s something I take pride in, you know, being able to get the ball wherever the coach needs me,” Moya said.
Moya’s contributions aided in the offense’s No. 12 ranking in the nation in total yards per game — 470.7. Northwest is No. 1 in the MIAA in scoring offense with 38.3 points per game.
If the Bearcats play the Bronchos like they did a season ago — a 38-0 victory for Northwest Sept. 25, 2021 — they’ll be well on track to keeping their name at the top of the leaderboard in the conference in both scoring offense and defense.
Moya, who totaled 17 yards on five carries against the Bronchos in 2021, said there’s good things to expect for this game.
“It’s gonna be a big game for us,” Moya said. “From the running back room to the wide receivers, I feel like we all should have explosive plays.”
A difference from last season’s win, besides Dorrel taking over for Central Oklahoma, is this year’s game will be at Edmond. The 394-mile trek will be the farthest the ’Cats will travel in the regular season. To Moya, it makes no difference where the game is, he’s going to be ready when that ball gets kicked off at 2 p.m.
“We take pride in going into away games and winning in hostile environments,” Moya said. “It’s a challenge, for sure, but we’re all ready for it.”