The 2011 season began nearly 2 1/2 months ago with the first practices in the late summer heat of August. That initial preparation has transitioned to a defining point for three area teams, who hope to extend their season in the Section IV football playoffs.
Norwich (4-3) makes its third straight postseason appearance, albeit as a lower seed when it laces on the shoulder pads for a return meeting with Johnson City (6-1) Saturday at 7 p.m. at Binghamton Alumni Stadium. Just two weekends ago, the Tornado dropped a 24-12 final to JC as Anthony Johns led the Wildcats’ attack with 178 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Johns, and the rest of the Johnson City backfield, operates behind a large, physical offensive line that slowly wore down a game Tornado defense.
“We will be playing guys on defense (against their offense) that will be outsized at times,” said Norwich coach John Martinson, who has not missed the playoffs since taking the head reins at NHS three seasons ago. “Playing good defense has really been our strength, but the last two games we’ve struggled off tackle. We’ve made some changes this week, and Johnson City will see some things they haven’t seen before. We hope to create some turnovers, and that will be a major key.”
Martinson pinpointed turnovers and field position as key facets in tomorrow night’s game. He also said that when his team has an opportunity to score in the red zone, it needs to capitalize. Norwich was in position to score a third touchdown against Johnson City, and advanced inside the five only to make key mistakes that led to zero points. Martinson also knows that he can’t expect quarterback Seth Thomsen to again have a big day throwing the ball. Thomsen threw for 166 yards in the loss to JC, but passing has never been Norwich’s prime means of moving the ball. “Johnson City has a lot team speed on defense and their secondary is excellent,” Martinson said. “We need to get off to a good start and can’t be in a position of playing catch-up football. Johnson City is just too sound defensively, and they come after you.”
Also engaged in playoff games this weekend are Greene and Bainbridge-Guilford. The Trojans meet Newark Valley, while the Bobcats face Walton for the second time this season. Meanwhile, Oxford and UV-Edmeston finish up their schedules with non-league games. Below is a look at each of those contests: