Football games before the first of September? It’s a first for me in my 18 seasons covering local football, and maybe a first for our six area football teams as well.
Two of our clubs are in action tonight, and third – Unadilla Valley – was supposed to play, but will have a to wait another week before it officially steps on field. More on that in a moment.
Exactly half of those six aforementioned teams made the playoffs last season, and aspirations are high again. Norwich is in the midst of three straight Class B playoff berths; Greene seems to be a regular playoff contender these days in Class C, and Bainbridge-Guilford won its first Section IV playoff game a season ago. Others such as Oxford and Sherburne-Earlville were in the playoff hunt until the final weeks of the season.
I know just about every local football fan is as eager for the season to start as I am, so without further delay, let’s look at this week’s slate of games:
Norwich at Union-Endicott, Saturday, 7 p.m.
It’s been a long time since these two clubs met. In Martinson’s tenure as Norwich as a head coach and assistant coach, the Tornado won the only two meetings against the Tigers. To make it three straight could be a tall task. “We scouted them at their scrimmage, and they are a well balanced team on both sides of the ball,” Martinson said. “They have a fantastic fullback and a lot of speed. On defense they are extremely aggressive and they like to blitz on almost every down.” To counter that approach, Martinson said his team needs to execute extremely well and grind it out. “Our focus this week is not so much what they can do but to run our own offense and defense, and have confidence at the point of attack,” Martinson said. “We need to be extremely disciplined at the line of scrimmage and give our playmakers opportunities.”