When Norwich (4-1) takes the field tonight against Maine-Endwell, it may well be facing one of the best Section IV teams over the past 10 seasons. The Spartans, New York State Class A state champions a year ago, return 19 of 22 starting spots from that club. To boot, a drop in enrollment now has M-E competing against smaller Class B schools.
“The best words to define Maine-Endwell on both sides of the ball are fast and physical,” said Norwich coach John Martinson.
What Maine-Endwell has done post haste is score. Without exception, all five of the Spartans’ opponents have found themselves in a significant hole. In comparison to the prior four games, last week’s 41-16 win over Elmira was a tight ballgame. Nevermind, it was a five-touchdown lead late in the fourth quarter when Elmira scored its final points. “They are very impressive,” Martinson said in remarks following last week’s win over Oneonta. “Regardless of the class, I think they are the best team in the state.”
Luis Uceta, last year’s offensive MVP in the state title game, is back as the outside running threat, while 239-pound fullback Nick Sorrenti provides power running on the inside. Complementing those two is 6-foot-5 junior quarterback Kyle Gallagher, who is equally dangerous running or throwing. The Spartans pull all of those offensive threats together in a spread formation that also implements a midline option. It’s a difficult offense to defend when playing an average team, much less one that is finely tuned and clicking on all cylinders.
“We will need to carry out our option responsibilities and get everyone to the football,” Martinson said.
Stopping Maine-Endwell’s offense is one thing, scoring on the defense may prove equally difficult. Until last year’s state championship game, the M-E starting defense did not allow more than one touchdown in any other game. While teams have put points on the board this season against M-E, virtually none have come against the starting defense. “This is the biggest team we have faced, but our kids are excited about the opportunity and will definitely be up for the challenge,” Martinson said.
Four more area games are on the docket this weekend. Here are previews of each contest: