Of all the teams to face with a playoff berth on the line, who better for Norwich to face than a team it has faced over 80 times since the 1920s?
The Tornado invade Oneonta tonight needing a win to return to the Section IV, Class B playoffs. Norwich kept its playoff hopes alive a week ago when it traveled to Windsor, and came away with a 19-8 win. A sputtering Norwich offense that is averaging less than 14 points a game, has put 40 points on the board over the last six quarters, and seems to be finding the right mix of running plays, while sprinkling in timely passes. “I told the kids this week that this is the defining moment of our season...besides being a rivalry game,” said Norwich second-year head coach John Martinson.
Norwich, after an opening-game victory against Whitney Point, lost four of five games at one point. The defense hung fairly tough, but the offense – except for the lone win over Sus Valley – put up around 10 points a game. The Tornado found something against Johnson City in the second half, and maintained that success against Windsor. “The offensive line is really starting to jell,” Martinson said. “As a coaching staff, we understand the mentality of this team and what we do well. Defensively, I can’t ask for more out of that side of the ball. We’re playing with great discipline, and the defense had kept us in a lot of games.”
In Oneonta, Norwich faces a club that has had more ups and downs that your typical rollercoaster ride. The ‘Jackets started the season with an impressive 40-27 win over highly regarded Greene. Book-ending that game was a lopsided 40-8 road loss to Susquehanna Valley a week ago – a team Norwich handled, 33-6. “It’s hard to tell what you’ll see (from Oneonta),” Martinson said. “We’re preparing for them to play their best game.”
The Yellowjackets are led by running back Bryce Wooden, who returns from last year. The ‘Jackets are also comfortable within their home confines with two of their three wins on Lloyd Baker Field, and the lone loss was a competitive 34-24 defeat to Johnson City.