HS Football Preview: Norwich treating tonight’s contest like a playoff game

Norwich coach Mike Chrystie said tonight's home game against Susquehanna Valley (7 p.m. start) is not an all-everything type of contest, but a victory would put the Purple Tornado in the driver's seat as a possible division champion and host of a first-round playoff game. "This game has a lot of implications," Chrystie said of his team, winners of three straight after an 0-3 start. "We're treating this game as a chance to make the playoffs, and from day one, our goal was to host a playoff game."

Beating the Sabers (5-1) will be no easy task. The Sabers opened the eyes of area football observers in week one beating 2013 Class AA state semifinalist Elmira in week one, 33-22. Elmira has not lost a game since that contest, and has, in fact, steamrolled the Class A/AA field.

The only hiccup for SV was a 27-14 loss to Maine-Endwell five weeks ago. Yeah, that same M-E club with 44 straight wins and three straight state titles. And the Sabers were in that game until a fourth-quarter Spartans touchdown made it a two-possession game.

"They're very physical up front, and probably have two of the best backs in the same backfield in all of the section," Chrystie said, who added that returning quarterback Dave Matthews has run the SV offense with aplomb.

A review of Sus Valley's results indicates a club quite capable of putting points on the board - and stopping the opposition. Aside from its 14-0 shutout win over Johnson City, SV has averaged over 40 points per game.

Norwich, meanwhile, has come into its own on offense over the three weeks scoring over 40 points a game during the winning streak. Mike Oralls had eight touchdowns over the past two weeks and 13 for the season. The senior running back is on pace for a second straight 1,000-yard season, and he'll need to be at peak efficiency tonight.

"What it will come down to is playing physical, tackling, and taking care of the football," Chrystie said. "It really Football 101 stuff."

Norwich needs to win either this week or next week to qualify for the postseason. Although it has had the upper hand over Sus Valley in recent years, we think the Sabers are a team on the rise.

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