Norwich tackles Owego in first round play-off game

No Chenango County football team has made more postseason appearances than Norwich, who returns to the Class B playoffs for the second straight year under head coach John Martinson.

On tap tonight at 7 p.m. is a road date at Owego Free Academy (6-2) Section IV, Division IV champions by virtue of a 30-13 win last weekend at Johnson City. The Indians were coming off a lopsided loss to Maine-Endwell the previous week, but were much improved and quite impressive in victory over JC. Dan Baileys ran for 118 yards and two scores, Derek Knapp had a rushing touchdown, and quarterback Scott Larrabee threw his 11th touchdown pass of the season.

“Seeing them against Johnson City, they have a balanced, but diverse offense,” Martinson said. “They ran it well off tackle last week, they have a strong fullback, and their offensive line is impressive. Larrabee is a good quarterback, and the faking is tremendous. It’s a well-oiled offense.”

Larrabee has shown tremendous efficiency in the passing game completed 50 percent of his attempts (43-for-86), while throwing for nearly 79 yards a contest. He doesn’t favor any particular target, although David Bensley has a team-best 12 catches to go with three scores. Joe Terenzi has rushed for a team-high 597 yards, while Baileys and Knapp each have over 300 yards rushing this season.

“I read that their coach (Steve Virkler) said that defenses have to defend the entire field (when playing Owego),” Martinson said. “It will be a great challenge for us.”

Norwich’s defense has remained steady throughout the season. The Tornado gave up just 9.5 points per game in four division games, and just 13.5 points per game for the season. Offensively, Norwich has surpassed 20 points just two times this season, and has struggled to score in the first half. “We seem to be a second-half team in terms of offense,” Martinson said. “Our goal on offense is to score a TD in the first quarter. That will be important against Owego. If we can sustain drives, keep the ball out of their hands, and not turn it over, we have a good shot.”

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