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Norwalk seeks strong close to season

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Oct 26, 2017 at 2:41 AM

On paper, it’s just a regular season finale between two teams who will combine for a 3-17 record.

But there is certainly a lot to play for when Tiffin Columbian (0-9) visits Norwalk (2-7) at 7 p.m. Friday at Whitney Field.

For starters, the two longtime Northern Ohio League programs are each looking for their first-ever win as a member of the Sandusky Bay Conference — which will ironically come at the expense of each other.

There is also the opportunity to send the seniors playing in Friday’s game out with a win in their final game — and to try and take the momentum of a win into the offseason.

Or in the case of the Tornadoes, the game marks one final chance to avoid a winless season.

We’re stressing to our team to finish with those three things,” said Norwalk coach Chris MacFarland, a 1987 Columbian graduate. “We want to get our first SBC win, jumpstart the offseason and give the seniors a good way to leave the program. There is a lot to play for in this situation.”

The Truckers are coming off a 24-7 loss at Clyde (8-1) last week. Norwalk trailed 14-7 at halftime, but had come up short in the red zone three times.

Norwalk also had losses this season of 12 points or less to Bellevue (6-3), Edison (7-2) and Sandusky (9-0). The are being outscored by an average of 23-19 through nine games.

“I was really proud of the way the kids played the whole night with the level of intensity and being physical,” MacFarland said of the Clyde loss. “It’s just one of those things where we have put together some very good quarter and halves, but just haven’t had that luck or come away with many wins after four quarters.

“We’ve played the top teams in the league very well, but our record says 2-7 still,” he added. “But from the inside and from the kids themselves, they know they have played good football.”

The Tornadoes are also coming off a heartbreaking loss. Leading 21-20 in the final minute vs. Perkins, a mishandled snap on a punt attempt gave the Pirates the ball deep in Columbian territory.

Perkins then kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired for an improbable 23-21 win.

“It’s a lot of the same things we have looked at with ourselves,” MacFarland said of the Tornadoes. “Good teams when they are winning get bounces to go their way and good things to happen. When you’re losing, crazy things tend to happen, like what happened on the snap for them or our fumble vs. Sandusky (17-14 loss on Oct. 6).

“It seems to go whatever direction you’re going in, either positive or negative,” he added. “That was a tough way for them to lose, and we know they will come out excited to play Game 10 with chance to break 0-9 streak. We’ll have to be ready to go out and play at a high level.”

Trevon Raymore paces the Norwalk stat leaders with 175 rushing attempts for 1,081 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s just 65 yards behind Sandusky’s Terion Stewart for the Lake division lead.

Andrew Ehrenberg is 83-of-169 passing for 822 yards with 5 TDs, with Kaden Livingston catching 44 of those passes for 398 yards and 3 TDs. Josh Welfle adds 22 catches for 333 yards and 2 TDs, and has returned 16 kickoffs for 352 yards.

Defensively, Drake Neuberger has 74 tackles with six sacks and a fumble recovery returned for a TD. Ethan Hernandez adds 51 tackles, while Alec Maloney has five sacks and has recovered three fumbles.

The Tornadoes have been outscored by an average of 39-15 through nine games. Quarterback Todd Simonds is a three-year starter who is 98-of-196 passing for 1,079 yards with 4 TDs, while also rushing 118 times for 593 yards and 4 TDs.

Columbian leads the all-time series through 75 meetings, 55-17-3. Norwalk has won two of the last three meetings after losing 22 straight times from 1993-2013, the last of which was a 34-28 double-overtime loss in the first round of the Division III playoffs in 2013.

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