Norwalk looks to stay hot vs. Perkins in SBC Lake game

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Oct 11, 2018 at 12:52 AM

NORWALK — Perkins football coach Jason Ziegler is a former NCAA Division II college offensive lineman at Ashland University.

So in preparation for this week's SBC Lake game at Norwalk, Ziegler was obviously impressed by Trevon Raymore's 407-yard, 6-touchdown performance in a 52-35 win at Sandusky.

But the head coach of the Pirates came away even more impressed with another area.

“When you watch the game, Raymore is a fantastic running back, you don't run for 400 yards if you’re not that good," Ziegler said. "But what you do notice is the way the offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. They do a nice job blocking and get to the next level.

"And when Raymore gets out to the next level, he turns on an extra gear," he added.

The Pirates (2-5, 1-1) enter Friday's game at Div. III AP No. 10 Norwalk (6-1, 2-0) coming off a huge road win at Bellevue (17-14). They have lost games to teams such as Huron (5-2), Oak Harbor (6-1) and Clyde (5-2) — and still face the Truckers, Columbian (5-2) and Sandusky (5-2).

Norwalk coach Todd Fox certainly isn't going to let his team overlook the Pirates based off their record — especially with his team coming off an emotional win over the Blue Streaks.

"Like we said from the beginning, the Lake is a week-to-week battle," Fox said. "We repeat to the kids often not to take anything for granted each week, but total credit to our kids is — they don’t take anything for granted.

"They know they have to go back to work each day," he added. "I think the success they are having right now isn’t something they are taking for granted. They’ve had to work for it, and a lot of them in their careers haven’t had that kind of success. They just want more.”

Perkins enters the game averaging 18.3 points and 252 yards per game on offense. J'Andre Jackson has ran 60 times for 366 yards and 6 TDs, with Chris Campbell adding 263 yards and a TD on just 20 attempts.

Quarterback Blake Smith is efficient at 98-of-110 passing for 648 yards and 5 TDs.

“They are still a Wing-T, but a different example of it," Fox said of the Pirates. "Obviously they put together a good offensive performance last week at Bellevue, and they have a couple kids with speed we need to be aware of as a defense. Their offense is diverse in the way they attack inside and outside with two different guys in two different directions."

Defensively, the Pirates allow 28.8 points per game. Teams have ran 215 times for 968 yards and 12 TDs while completing 79-of-82 pass attempts for 885 yards and 11 TDs on them.

Linebacker Joe Printy has 54 tackles for Perkins, while Jackson and Dylan Nason each add 32. The Pirates have three sacks and one interception in seven weeks.

“They are really big on both sides, but this will be one of the bigger defensive lines we’ve seen this week," Fox said of Perkins. "Their linebackers really fly to the ball and they’ve got some speed on the perimeter.

"They are sound defensively, and if you look at their scores — a lot of close games where they just couldn’t put four quarters together," he added. "And last week they did at Bellevue."

Meanwhile, Norwalk had it's streak of scoreless defense stopped at 186 minutes and 11 seconds in the first quarter at Sandusky last week. The Truckers went 15.5 quarters without allowing a point and are allowing 13.6 points per game.

The Truckers have allowed 764 yards and 6 TDs on the ground — but a good chunk of that came from Sandusky standout Terion Stewart rushing 20 times for 211 yards and 4 TDs last week. Norwalk also has 16 interceptions in seven games as a unit, as Ryan Sowders has eight — already a new single-season program record.

"Offensively they're putting up a lot of points (30.7 per game)," Ziegler said. "But the flipside is their defense. How well they play on that side of the ball — that really, really stands out on film. Their line and secondary is good, and the linebackers are fantastic.

"They are well-coached, that also shows up on the game film," he added. "I think they are a complete team. To beat them, we'll have to play sound football. We can't turn it over and we have to control the ball."

Josh Neuberger has 70 tackles and four sacks for Norwalk, while Alec Maloney has 67 tackles. Tche Leroux adds 49 tackles and seven sacks, while Ethan Hernandez has 42 tackles, one sack and two interceptions.

Offensively, the Truckers have 1,865 yards rushing with 23 TDs — with Raymore as the workload. He has 190 attempts for 1,548 yards and 19 TDs in seven games. His lowest output was 137 yards in the lone loss of the season at Norwayne in Week 2.

Junior QB Garrett Chapin is 74-of-119 passing for 1,012 yards with 6 TDs and 5 INTs. Kaden Livingston has 19 catches for 401 yards and 3 TDs and Brandon Haraway has 19 catches for 339 yards and a TD.

"Raymore is a kid you definitely have to try and contain, but if you go all in on run defense, the passing game is fantastic," Ziegler said. "Haraway and Livingston, those two along with some others are good players — and Chapin can throw the ball well."

A year ago, the Pirates were winless (0-7) and rose up to hand the 3-win Truckers a 20-7 loss. It's going to take an even bigger performance on Friday.

"We had some tough games, but the kids have their confidence up after last week," Ziegler said. "I felt like they played hard, sound football for four quarters. When we do that, we’re a pretty good team. But this is a big test, and we’re going to have to play our best game."

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