NORWICH - Despite falling to Maine-Endwell in the sectional championship, the Norwich Purple Tornado football team closed out a remarkable 2022 season. A team that hasn’t missed a playoff berth very often with head coach Mike Chrystie in over the last 10 years.
This year’s team wanted to give their 13 seniors something to celebrate. While it wasn’t a sectional title, they can at least be proud of a second place finish in the division with a final record of 7-4, including a postseason win against Windsor.
The team also celebrates a milestone for running back Holden Ryan. Ryan, a junior, led the team with a record-breaking 1,845 rushing yards with a total of 2,161 all-purpose yards, and 19 touchdowns. It’ll be exciting to see what he will do when he comes out for his senior year next season.
Ryan’s 1,845 yards broke the Norwich and Chenango County rushing record, dating back to 1998 with Josh Foulds of Unadilla Valley/Edmeston (1,823) and 1999 with John Loiselle of Norwich (1,683).
Chrystie, who makes the Chenango County 1,000 rushers list himself with 1,222 yards for Oxford, credits the offensive line for Ryan’s achievement.
“We treated it as a team record. When the team is doing great things and playing well those things take care of themselves,” he said. “Holden is a special back and very deserving of this record and we had a terrific offensive line this year (Harrison Matlack-Grey, Hunter Wenzel, Jake Llewellyn, Dakota Andrial, Gabe Blenis and Pat White), and the combination of that made for a record breaking year.”
Chrystie applauds his offensive pass game as well.
“What people may not realize is we also threw the ball for more than 1200 yards with Steven Dowdall, who is only a sophomore. Hagenbuch, Fuller, Edwards, Collins, Olds were all playmakers on the outside for us that made big plays all year,” he said. “We were pretty dynamic on offense this year and to not be one dimensional is tough for defenses to stop.”
Norwich looked at a pretty tough 2022 schedule with games against top schools, such as Westhill, Waverly, and of course Maine-Endwell. Norwich lost these contests, but had a late comeback against Westhill that fell short. But, they dominated every other matchup, especially against Windsor, Johnson City, and rivals Oneonta to get them into the postseason.
Chrystie knows each year how challenging the schedule will be and prepares his team to the best of their ability.
“Going into each year we know our schedule will be challenging. We accept that and understand what we need to do in order to compete on the level we want to,” he said. “Football doesn’t start in August anymore. If you wait until the middle of August to start preparing for the season, you are way behind our competitors.”
“ Our off season lifting and conditioning, as well as mental sessions, are vital to our success. Our players and coaches must be dedicated to these things for us to be successful. Creating a winning culture and winning atmosphere is what we pride ourselves on at Norwich. We are a true family that buys into the success of each other and the team.”
Norwich loses 13 seniors that truly showed family values in the last three years of being on the team. While it is tough to individualize each one, the whole group will surely be missed.
“This year's seniors were a very special group. Many of them have played varsity for three years since they were sophomores,” Chrystie said. “All 13 of them exemplified what we preach about pride and commitment. Their character, hard word, sacrifices, and selflessness will be missed. I hope the underclassmen take what they learned from this group and grow off those lessons.”
Congratulations to seniors Max Morris, Quincy Carnachan, Gage Titsworth, Mason Edwards, Anthony Ragonese, Kyle Linger, Nate Murphy, Michael Manwarren, Aiden Rebmann, Jake Llewellyn, Harrison Matlack-Grey, PJ Bookamer, and Hunter Wentzel.
While Norwich loses a significant portion of the team, they will remain very talented with many key playmakers expected to return along with JV players moving up.
Coach Chrystie can only credit the success to how hard his team works.
“Since I have been here, we have only missed the playoffs twice. We pride ourselves on being a competitive program who competes year after year. We know we represent more than just ourselves,” he said. “We represent both current and past players as well as the community as a whole. Creating that competitive culture and keeping it consistent takes a lot of work but it's work we love to do and that’s why we are successful.”
Chrystie anticipates what his team will look like in the offseason and continues to have high hopes of bringing a championship to Norwich.
“Our last hurdle is to win the sectional championship. We know if we do, we will be competing for a state title,” he said. “I think the winner of section IV class B has won the state championship more often than not in the last 10 years. That’s our goal each year. The bar is set high and we know we have to work hard to achieve it.”
Congratulations to the 2022 Norwich Purple Tornado football team.