Coming off a stunning overtime victory last week over Susquehanna Valley that clinched a Class B playoff berth, Norwich can seal a division title and host a home playoff game next week with a win at Oneonta tonight.
The Yellowjackets have but two wins on the season, and NHS head coach Mike Chrystie said he knows you can throw records out the window when these two rivals clash on the gridiron.
"I've been reminded of the 1999 game when Norwich was undefeated, and Oneonta came to town and beat Norwich," Chrystie said. "That was the only blemish Norwich had in the section that year. Anything can happen in high school football, and we need to take care of business."
Chrystie said Oneonta mixes up its offensive approach, and is not averse to spreading the field and throwing the ball on nearly every down. Since losing to Maine-Endwell in week three, Norwich's defense has shored up some holes, while the offense has hit its stride. The win over Susquehanna Valley was a showcase of how far the Tornado have come in one month.
"It was a special night, and it was a win that shows that our program is headed in the right direction," Chrystie said. "I've never been part of a team where everyone has totally bought into the philosophy. It's been an amazing year."
Norwich senior running back Mike Oralls is rapidly approaching another 1,000-yard season. He needs 138 yards to reach that milestone a second straight year. We think he gets those yards tonight, and Norwich will clinch its first division championship in five years.
Below is a look at the other four football games on the docket this weekend:
Sherburne-Earlville (5-2) at General Brown (6-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Sherburne-Earlville picked up its statement win of the season in week two beating the defending Section III Class C champions. Since that time, the Marauders have won three of five, while the Lions have won five straight by an average of 29 points per game. "We've proven we can play with them, and now it's a matter of going out there and doing it again," said S-E coach Mike Jasper. "They're obviously better in week eight than they were in week two. They've improved, and we'll have our work cut out for us."
That first meeting was fairly tight with the exception of two big plays – one to end the first half, and the other to start the second half. Ben Khoury returned an interception for six points in the final minute of the second, then Matt Hull returned the opening kickoff of the second half. Minus those two plays, the game played out fairly even, the final statistics were slightly in the Marauders' favor.
"We expect them to be aggressive and physical against us," Jasper said. "They've added some things since our first game, and I know they can throw it better than they did in week two.
"I think maybe we surprised them a bit with our physical play, and I'm sure they will want to establish a hard-nosed style of play."
Sherburne-Earlville's defense was gashed for nearly 500 yards by Herkimer last week, although it did accumulate 246 yards of offense on its own.
The Marauders have lost playoff games each of the last two seasons, so could the third year be the charm?
Prediction: General Brown...