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Norwalk seeks more balance this week vs. Port Clinton

Mark Hazelwood • Sep 6, 2017 at 8:12 PM

Every coach knows it takes 48 minutes to beat a quality team.

That’s what made Norwalk’s 13-3 loss at Edison last week all the more frustrating.

The Truckers kept the Chargers out of the end zone for the first 28 minutes — but then allowed a touchdown off a short field. A little more than two minutes later in the third quarter, a snafu on a punt attempt gave Edison an even shorter field — just five yards — and the Chargers quickly pounced for another TD for the final points of the game.

“We can’t have turnovers and penalties, and there was about a six-minute period that our wounds were self-inflicted,” Norwalk coach Chris MacFarland said. “Edison took advantage, just like a good team is going to. Other than those six minutes — we played very good football.

“They moved the ball on us at times, but I thought we did a good job of limiting their big play potential,” he added. “Defensively I thought we played really well, no question.”

With last week in the past, the Truckers (1-1) turn their attention to Friday’s game against visiting Port Clinton (1-1) at Whitney Field.

The Truckers and Redskins have played on and off, most recently in 1998 and 1999 (two Norwalk wins) prior to the series renewing last season. That game in 2016 was the season opener on a Thursday night, won 28-17 by the Redskins.

Friday’s matchup also features two programs that have mirrored each other in many similar ways dating back more than 40 years.

After posting a winning record in 1976, Port Clinton finished with a winning season just once (1990) until 2014. Meanwhile, the Truckers went without a winning season from 1978-2010.

Norwalk then had a core of standout athletes that posted winning seasons from 2011-14, capped by a 10-0 season and Northern Ohio League title in 2014.

It was a struggle to replace that core of players — on top of a rash of injuries — in 2015. Now, the Redskins are attempting to replace a similar core of standout players that went 24-10 in a stretch from 2014-16 with three playoff appearances and a Sandusky Bay Conference title.

“Obviously it is different looking at their roster from the past few seasons, similar to ours from 2014 to 2015,” MacFarland said. “But, the foundation is there and Coach (Beau) Carmon has done a great job with that. Their kids are buying into the program.

“I think Beau has done a great job over there, and they are very organized,” he added. “They are still running concepts from years past, and the kids are well-coached. You can tell all those things from watching them on film. They’re executing their plays.”

In last week’s 28-7 win vs. Rossford, QB Kyle Fitzpatrick was 10-of-18 passing for 116 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. Running back Cooper Stine ran 13 times for 157 yards and a TD.

The ‘Skins were routed in Week 1 (41-7) by overwhelming Lake division favorite Sandusky.

“Up front, they are very good,” MacFarland said of P.C. “They do a nice job coming off the ball. Defensively we’re going to have to swarm to the ball, as they do a lot of nice things to mix it up. They are spread, with good balance.

“Defensively, they’re a 4-3 and bring pressure, play gap control and their coverage right now appears very sound with what they’re doing,” he added. “But the challenge for us is to improve ourselves. We’ve got to eliminate some things and get better.”

In last week’s loss, QB Andrew Ehrnberg was 16-of-29 passing for 137 yards, with Kaden Livingston catching nine passes for 108 yards. But on the ground Rashod Raymore led the way with 43 yards on 12 attempts — aided by a long run in the final 30 seconds.

As a team, Norwalk ran 20 times for 52 yards — something MacFarland knows can’t happen again on Friday.

“Offensively, obviously we need to have our full strength,” he said. “It compliments our passing game. Without us establishing the run last week, it kind of put us in a situation where we don’t want to have to lean on one kid, our quarterback, ever, to have to win a game for you.

“We need to have a balanced offense — and for us to be successful, that’s what has to happen,” MacFarland added. “I think it will be a great Friday night of two teams who are right at that 1-1 mark and looking for a little early momentum to carry them down the road over the next seven weeks.”

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