Tornado face Forks in pivotal division battle

The statistics speak volumes: Chenango Forks’ football team has had one heck of a run this decade.

Up until last week’s 18-15 loss to Oneonta, the Blue Devils lost just one other game to a Section IV team since a close defeat to Oneonta during the 2000 season.

The first year of this decade was the last time the Blue Devils found themselves out of the playoff mix. Over the course of their stunning dominant run, the Blue Devils won 40 straight intra-division games, and the thought of losing two straight? Well, no one has a better opportunity to pull that off than Norwich tonight at Ulrich Field beginning at 7 p.m.

“We know and the kids know that (Forks) will come out and play their best game of the season,” said Norwich coach John Pluta. “They got stung last week, but we have something to say about that. We’re concerned about our performance, and we control how we play. If we perform, ultimately, that’s what it is all about.”

Chenango Forks’ offense has yet to get untracked scoring just 44 points through four games – three of those close wins. Defensively, the 18-point yield last week is a bit deceiving, Pluta was quick to note. Oneonta’s three touchdowns came on a long Brendan Pidgeon run, a short drive after a bad Forks punt, and a defensive touchdown following an interception. “The numbers added up to 18 points, but there really wasn’t a lot of offense (for Oneonta),” Pluta said. What the Norwich coach did note was the strong defense by the ‘Jackets, a side of the ball that has proven a great strength for the Tornado thus far. “Except for a couple of breakdowns – and Forks made them pay for it – Oneonta played good assignment football,” Pluta said. “You have to do that against an option team. We’ve played pretty good defense the first part of the season, and I don’t see Chenango Forks making a lot of changes in what they do. We have to continue to improve on defense.”

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