The Norwalk football team didn’t play a good game by any stretch against a quality opponent on the road in last week’s season-opening loss at Mansfield Senior.
The Truckers committed 13 penalties that totaled 144 yards, a blown coverage that led to a 53-yard touchdown pass — and three turnovers that included an interception returned for a TD.
And despite all of that, Norwalk had possession of the ball down 14-10 with under 10 minutes left in the 21-10 loss.
“I think what stood out most is that we have a lot of room for improvement,” Norwalk coach Todd Fox said. “We played very sloppy — and still could have won the game in the fourth quarter against a very good team on the road.
“Our ceiling is much higher than the way we performed,” he added. “And the other part of that is the kids are back at it working hard with the understanding that we have to get better.”
There was little time to dwell on last week’s loss to the Tygers. The Truckers (0-1) welcome Huron (1-0) to town on Friday for the home opener at Whitney Field.
The 7 p.m. kickoff isn’t just the rekindling of a longtime rivalry that goes back to the 1950s. Norwalk is also welcoming a Division IV playoff team from a year ago in the Tigers, who are coming off a 44-12 win over Cleveland East Tech.
The Truckers and Tigers played for 53 consecutive years from 1958-2010. Huron won the last 21 games of the series from 1989-2010, and lead the all-time series, 45-8, entering Friday’s game.
Norwalk’s last win over the Tigers was on Sept. 9, 1988 — a 14-6 victory in double-overtime — at Whitney Field. It was the program’s first-ever OT game. The Truckers had five or six games in that 21-game skid vs. Huron where they had a chance to win in the final minutes and came up short.
During the streak, Huron had one-possession wins over Norwalk in 1995 (13-10), 1998 (21-19), 2002 (21-14) and 2007 (21-14).
“We’re playing a great program, and looking back in the history it’s been a long time since Norwalk has beaten Huron,” Fox said. “In that regard, we have to understand that this schedule is set up to make us better — and we better come ready on Friday. I know Huron has been a steady, great program for a long time and Coach (Sam) Hohler does a great job over there. They bring a lot of athletes out on the field, and they do different things with the way they attack compared to what Mansfield did.”
In last week’s win over East Tech, Huron quarterback Joey Brown was 2-of-4 for 63 yards and a TD pass that went for 55 yards to Jimmy Harkelroad. Kristian Caporini ran four times for 71 yards and 2 TDs, and kicker Luke Wood made five extra points.
“Our defense played particularly well last week,” Fox said. “They could do better, but we played well against their athletes, and we have to continue to do that this week. Huron brings a very talented dual-threat quarterback who can throw and run in Brown, much like we saw last week.
“We’re going to have to slow him down, and he’s got some nice targets to throw to on the perimeter who made some great catches last week,” he added. “They bring yet another balanced offensive attack to defend.”
Defensively, Fox said the Tigers bring pressure from all over the field, which will be a challenge for the Norwalk offensive line.
“They have a very good inside linebacker group, and our offense line has to get better, because they have another tall task this week,” he said. “We have to be prepared, because it’s a different attack. They are sending guys all the time, and we have to be ready to go.”
In last week’s loss, Norwalk quarterback Garrett Chapin was 12-of-21 passing for 161 yards with two interceptions. Ryan Sowders had three catches for 69 yards, and Ethan Hernandez had three catches for 44 yards.
Evan Stumpf ran 28 times for 112 yards and caught three passes for 20 yards, while Jake Sommers blocked a field goal and returned an interception 81 yards for the Truckers’ lone touchdown. Garrison Smith had a 24-yard field goal and a 58-yard punt.
Fox said he’s been impressed with the attitude of his team, which was on display almost immediately after the loss.
“The thing I like about it is that it’s disappointing, and you feel that disappointment — but you didn’t see that ‘poor me’ attitude,” he said. “It was more of being ready to go again. They wanted to go right now and get ready.
“So it was disappointing, but no one was feeling sorry for themselves,” Fox added. “That is the part I liked. They want to get better and expect more out of themselves, and that is what they portrayed to us right away on (last) Saturday morning.”
Norwalk-Huron series skid
Entering Friday’s game, Huron has defeated Norwalk in 21 straight meetings, which has included several close calls, including four losses by a combined 19 points:
2019: Huron at Norwalk
2010: Huron 40, Norwalk 20
2009: Huron 42, Norwalk 18
2008: Huron 49, Norwalk 7
2007: Huron 21, Norwalk 14
2006: Huron 34, Norwalk 7
2005: Huron 38, Norwalk 14
2004: Huron 17, Norwalk 7
2003: Huron 35, Norwalk 9
2002: Huron 21, Norwalk 14
2001: Huron 27, Norwalk 6
2000: Huron 44, Norwalk 19
1999: Huron 42, Norwalk 14
1998: Huron 21, Norwalk 19
1997: Huron 45, Norwalk 24
1996: Huron 25, Norwalk 0
1995: Huron 13, Norwalk 10
1994: Huron 41, Norwalk 13
1993: Huron 27, Norwalk 6
1992: Huron 55, Norwalk 8
1991: Huron 41, Norwalk 12
1990: Huron 37, Norwalk 6
1989: Huron 24, Norwalk 9
1988: Norwalk 14, Huron 6, 2OT