But when Norwalk coach Chris MacFarland is able to take a step back, his Truckers football team went toe-to-toe with an undefeated team ranked in the top five in the state poll.
There is something to be said when a team with a 2-5 record is selling out every play as heavy underdogs.
“Very pleased with what the kids did,” MacFarland said of last week’s last-second, 17-14 loss to the Division III No. 5-ranked Sandusky Blue Streaks (7-0).
Ahead of this Friday’s Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division game at winless Perkins, the ninth-year Norwalk coach is counting on that effort once again with hopes of being rewarded.
“The kids are giving us everything they have every week,” MacFarland said. “We talk about each Friday being the most important game of the year. Our kids really believe it and give us everything we have every game.”
Against Sandusky, Norwalk led 14-7 at halftime, and the Blue Streaks tied it up with 4:15 left in the third quarter.
The game remained that way until seven seconds left when Sandusky’s Max Corso drilled a 28-yard field goal. Norwalk had fumbled at the Sandusky 3-yard line on the prior possession with 5:35 left.
“It was a great showing, the kids fought hard to the end,” MacFarland said. “It speaks a lot about who they are. Our coaches have done a good job preparing them and putting kids in position, and they are taking advantage of it.”
MacFarland also noted his players have a good feeling of where they are and what they can do. The Truckers also suffered close setbacks to quality opponents in Edison (13-3), Port Clinton (27-21) and Bellevue (40-28) along with the Sandusky loss.
“They were upset from the night before, but they also understand that we think they are a good team,” MacFarland said. “They now understand why our coaches have been saying that, even though we’re 2-5.
“There is talent. When they play well together with a certain energy level, we’re a tough out,” he added. “It just so happened to be a crazy situation last week that took game from us.”
One thing MacFarland and his coaches won’t have to do this Friday is worry about his team overlooking the winless Pirates (0-7, 0-2). If there is such a luxury of being 2-5 with close losses, it applies this week.
“We can’t sit back and take any moral victories from last week,” MacFarland said. “None of that will matter at 7 p.m. Friday at Perkins. I’m sure on their schedule they are looking at playing us as a chance to get their first win as much as we’re trying to get our first SBC win.
“We just have to go out and play well, and focus on what we need to focus on — and I think it will be another great game,” he added.
The Pirates run the Wing-T offense, and have been a victim of a daunting schedule after a close early-season loss as well.
After a 27-21 loss to Huron (4-3) in the season opener, the Pirates have faced the likes of Mansfield Senior (5-2), Genoa (6-1), Vermilion (5-2), Oak Harbor (4-3), Clyde (7-0) and Bellevue (5-2) since.
Perkins is led by fullback Noah Henry (325 yards, 2 TDs) and quarterback Isaac Grude (317 yards, TD) on the ground.
One good stat for the Truckers this week: no team has allowed more rushing yards or rushing TDs in the SBC Lake division than the Pirates (1,438, 205.4 average; 20 TDs).
Meanwhile, Norwalk counters with the Lake division leader on the ground, junior Trevon Raymore. He’s ran 133 times for 925 yards and 13 TDs in six games (132 ypg), including 221 yards last week in the loss to Sandusky.
“We know that 0-7 isn’t what they are,” MacFarland said of Perkins. “They move ball up and down, but have been bitten with turnovers and mistakes — and that seems to happen to the teams who aren’t winning, you usually don’t get many breaks.
“But we really respect what they have, which can be a hard offense to stop,” he added. “They’ve moved up and down the field, but just seem to commit turnovers and shoot themselves in the foot at times. We know how that is, too.”