Norwich entertains Sidney tonight in home opener

It’s not officially homecoming weekend, but Norwich (1-1) will be welcomed home just the same tonight when it entertains an unbeaten Sidney (2-0) ballclub in the Tornado’s first home game of the season.

Norwich and the Warriors have met four times since the 2005 season with Sidney holding a 3-1 edge. Just a season ago, Sidney was coming off a blowout loss to Johnson City, while Norwich had an opening-game victory. Using an aggressive defensive game plan combined with varied pass/run play calling on offense, the Warriors stunned Norwich 12-6.

“I think Sidney is turning into a perennial powerhouse,” said Norwich coach John Martinson. “They’re putting a lot of points on the board, and they are playing some sound defense.”

According to the Warriors’ football website, they are averaging 455 yards of total offense per game. Nate MacDonald, Damian Zimmer, Austin McCarroll, Billy Kozak, and Brandon Walters are all averaging at least seven yards per rushing attempt, and have combined for eight rushing touchdowns in two games.

Sidney is buoyed by a large offensive line that averages over 240 pounds per player, and all five starters return from last year. “I think this is a game that will be decided in the trenches,” Martinson said. “They are big and physical up front, they block well, and they are very well coached.”

Of course, Martinson was quick to mention the unique offensive formation that is the staple of this year’s Sidney offense. The past two years, the Warriors operated out of a spread formation. This year, it is back to the “toss offense” where all of the linemen are foot to foot, and the backs are just a couple of yards behind the linemen. It’s a difficult offense to defend, Martinson said, because few teams use it, and the Warriors are adept at running it. “We just need to play sound defense and take care of our responsibilities,” Martinson said. “We need to be more diversified on offense this week, like we were in the Union-Endicott game. What will decide this game is who executes the best and who takes care of the ball. We’re looking for a really good game.”

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