Instead, inconsistent play and some key turnovers have produced a 1-2 record as the Truckers host Margaretta (1-2) in their homecoming game Friday night at Whitney Field.
Following a 40-6 win over Willard in the season opener, the Truckers were close, but came up short in losses at Edison (13-3) and vs. Port Clinton (27-21).
The setback to the Redskins last week saw Norwalk fall behind 20-0 with less than 30 seconds left in the first half — only to rally and pull within 27-21 with 6:15 left. However, the Trucker defense couldn’t get a third down stop, and Port Clinton ran out the clock to hang on for the victory.
The Redskins (2-1) totaled 422 yards of total offense in the win.
“In the second half we were able to move the ball and get in the end zone a couple of times, which was encouraging considering the start we had,” Norwalk coach Chris MacFarland said. “Some kids really played well, there were some times we had things happen. But we had a lot of missed tackles last week — and just kind of not doing exactly what we were coached to do.
“We’re correcting that this week, the kids understand it and had good film sessions,” he added. “Defensively they see — everyone has to do their 1 of 11 part, and if someone doesn’t do that or just gets in the wrong gap — one little thing can beat you, like an opening for a good running back. That’s something Port Clinton took advantage of on us last week.”
Against the Polar Bears — who have also been up and down, but were up in a 35-12 win vs. Monroeville last week — the Truckers know where it starts. Senior running back Logan Graffin is coming off a 2,000-yard, 30-touchdown season in 2016, and has 250 yards and 6 TDs so far this season.
Also for Margaretta, quarterback Nick Leibacher is 43-of-58 for 524 yards with 4 TDs and two interceptions. Angelo Frias is a big target with nine catches for 235 yards and all 4 TDs through the air.
“They definitely have athletes that do well with the ball, and obviously Graffin is an outstanding running back,” MacFarland said of the Bears. “We’re going to have to work hard on stopping the run, as last week we didn’t play as well as we could have there. The run defense has to improve, and we need to find our strength in matchups.”
Norwalk senior QB Andrew Ehrenberg has completed 38-of-67 passes (57 percent) for 386 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Kaden Livingston has caught 16 of those passes for 171 yards and a TD.
Trevon and Rashod Raymore have put up nearly identical stats, with Trevon running 28 times for 128 yards and 3 TDs, with Rashod adding 107 yards 26 attempts and 2 TDs.
But how can the Truckers build consistency?
“We’re trying to do it in the every day life part of it, consistency of everyone being on time and properly dressed to practice,” MacFarland said. “All the little things, paying attention to detail. In practice, trying to make sure every rep is done properly and not letting anyone slide by with anything little.
“There is no, ’Hey, it’s OK it wasn’t done perfect, let’s move on,’” he added. “No, we do it right and stay on them, harping the details of everything. We’re hoping that pays off when they go to execute everything in the game. And hopefully throughout the game they realize how much we’ve emphasized the little things for them to be more consistent in what they’re doing.”
MacFarland knows it’s the cliché football coachspeak — but said the interior lines is where the Truckers need to come through.
“We’ve had a lot of meetings about that this week with our team, that we have to be better there,” he said. “We stress to our kids — our offensive and defensive lines are the most important. If not, then we’d be playing 7 0n 7.
“We know it’s the unsung role, they don’t get their names in the newspaper or things like that very often, but we will not have the success without our lines,” MacFarland added. “No team will. We’re really trying to pinpoint that with our kids.”