For one week, Norwich steps out of Section IV division play and has a golden opportunity to not only regroup, but take down one of the top-rated Class B teams in the state.
Tonight at 7 p.m., the Tornado (4-2) visit number three ranked Oneida (6-0) in a Section III versus Section IV non-league crossover.
“A lot of times you look at team and they are either really strong or really athletic up front,” said Norwich coach John Pluta. “Oneida is both.”
As good a passing team as Oneida is – and quarterback Ryan Kramer is already well over 1,000 yards passing this season – the Indians are just as happy running the ball on sweeps, off-tackle runs, and counters, Pluta said, out of the “I” formation. “They also throw a lot to their backs and have a wide-open attack called the ‘Polecat Offense,’” the Norwich coach said.
The Pole Cat system spreads the field and receivers in a unique formation in which multiple receivers are eligible to catch the ball. “It’s not their base offense, but they might run that a series at a time,” Pluta said.
While Oneida is wide-open, Norwich looks to return to a ball-control offense that has been the team’s staple in Pluta’s long tenure. Norwich can take heart that the time-consuming, ball-control drives are still in its repertoire. The Purple Tornado marched 94 yards for a score last week against Windsor, although it needed to use the passing game more than usual.
“The biggest thing within our game plan is to control the ball and control the clock,” Pluta said. “We want to minimize their opportunities on offense and shorten the game. We’re capable of that, and we need to make plays on defense.”