Norwich knows how to do homecoming, and tonight, the Tornado faithful will enjoy a super-sized celebration thanks to the vision of the athletics department and the help of countless volunteers. Aside from an expanded parade to precede the football game, all of the Tornado varsity sports teams will receive recognition and a grand entrance onto the newly-turfed Ulrich Field. And, by the way, there is a longtime rival ready to meet the NHS gridders – Oneonta – to top off the evening. For those unable to take in the contest in person, Frontier Communications High-Speed Internet subscribers can take in the game on an exclusive webcast by logging on to www.ESPN360.com.
“There is a lot going on,” said Norwich coach John Pluta. Pluta’s Tornado club is coming off what he called a “disappointing loss” to Chenango Forks a weekend ago. The Tornado suffered a pair of costly penalties in the fourth quarter that contributed to two stalled scoring drives in a 14-6 defeat. “We’ve had some pretty tough losses, but our kids are hanging in there and they’ve had a solid week of practice,” he said.
Despite the hoopla surrounding and preceding Norwich’s seventh contest this season, Pluta said he team has resolved to remain focused on an opponent that is much better than its 2-4 record. “They are a good team, but had some injuries early in the year,” he said. “They have everyone back and have some game-breakers back. They’ve also played good defense all year.”
Brendan Pidgeon returned to the Yellowjackets lineup last week and ran for 136 yards and one score in a 12-7 win over Susquehanna Valley. Oneonta’s defense also allowed just 64 yards rushing, and nary an opposing team on its schedule this season has eclipsed 200 yards rushing. That includes games against Windsor, Chenango Forks, Johnson City, and Unatego, who have a combined 20-4 record this season.
Norwich running back Chris Mattingly broke the 600-yard rushing mark for the third straight season in last week’s game, and he needs 90 yards to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark for his three-year varsity career.