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Truckers, Flyers spread the wealth in respective openers

By MARK HAZELWOOD Reflector Sports Editor markhazelwood@norwalkreflector.com • Updated Aug 28, 2017 at 7:45 PM

This isn’t really a secret in football coaching circles.

Every head coach wants to spread the wealth, and get as many kids involved as possible. It creates options and obviously depth.

At Whitney Field this weekend, it was definitely all smiles in that category for both Norwalk and St. Paul. The Truckers got many new faces involved in a 40-6 win on Thursday over visiting Willard, while the Flyers had no trouble Saturday night in a 44-0 win over St. Mary Central Catholic.

Chris MacFarland watched as five different players scored touchdowns for Norwalk. Eight different plays ran the ball, and five different players had receptions at the receiver position.

It was extremely important for Norwalk to find out what it had early. Make no mistake, the Truckers — at least on paper — have an unforgiving schedule.

On top of renewing the rivalry at Edison on Friday, Norwalk still has games with the traditional tall orders known as Bellevue, Clyde and Sandusky in the Lake division of the Sandusky Bay Conference. And while replacing a ton of talent, a non-division game against Port Clinton in two weeks is against a program coming off three straight playoff appearances.

So make no mistake, this was a huge audition for MacFarland’s team to see who can do what.

“We like to spread it out and give the ball to different kids,” MacFarland said. “Anytime you can do that, it’s a great night. Hopefully we can make the same jump from Week 1 to Week 2. Win or lose, that’s usually the biggest improvement of the year.”

The big storyline from Thursday for the Truckers had to be the performance of sophomore Alec Maloney. Seven tackles, including three sacks, along with a 53-yard TD run on his only time touching the ball is certainly a first-ever varsity performance the young man will never forget.

And had it not been for a short-term injury, it never would have happened.

“He’s a great kid who does everything right as far as lifting and offseason training,” MacFarland said of Maloney. “We noticed him in freshman games, he finds the football — just instincts for it.

“The reason it happened for him to get in there was one of our seniors was out with a foot injury, so we had to move him around a little bit,” he added. “But, we knew Alec was a good player — and this helps us out with him being able to play at that level, because it gives us even more depth and options.”

As for St. Paul, it was nothing new to see nine different players run the ball in a blowout opener. Still, it plays a key role in why the Flyers are able to continually win eight-plus games on average for the past 20 years.

With 48 rushing attempts for 251 yards and 4 TDs on the ground, the Flyers had six different players finish with between 19-to-36 yards each. Eli Meyer ran 10 times for 75 yards and 3 TDs, and names like Noah Good, Brandon Saldusky and Cam Caizzo each brought something different to the table against the overmatched Panthers.

“We feel like we’ve got a number of good backs,” St. Paul coach John Livengood said. “That was Cam’s first time on the varsity field, and he ran the ball real well.”

Livengood noted that on top of the obvious depth and options a crowded backfield creates, he said each of the backs who ran the ball in the first half (the Flyers led 42-0 at the break) bring a different style.

“Brandon brings a little bit different aspect to the game, he’s probably the most explosive of the backs we play right now,” he said. “Cam is that hard-churning guy, Eli and Noah are grinders — and Brandon can bring it with the speed. And hopefully we can bring Thane (Crabbs) back in the mix after he gets healthy, and we’re real excited to get him in there as well.”

It’s only Week 1, and both the Truckers and Flyers took care of business against programs who are at different points right now. But it sure beats the alternative, where you don’t get to see what you have against live opponents.

One thing we do know, however, is this simple truth: spreading the wealth usually means more wins than losses.

And there were certainly a lot of smiling faces filing out of Whitney Field — and for at least one weekend, you can’t beat that.

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