Norwin defense making strides in first two weeks
TribLIVE Sports Videos
When the Norwin football team targeted areas for improvement heading into the 2013 season, defense topped the list.
After a 2012 season that saw the Knights allow more than 30 points and 350 yards per game, coach Art Tragesser said the team's defense needed to improve in order for it to succeed this year.
While Norwin dropped to 0-2 with a 17-3 loss to Penn-Trafford last week, Tragesser is seeing those improvements on defense. Through two games, the Knights have allowed just 38 points.
“Against Altoona (a 21-0 loss Aug. 30), we gave them the ball at point-blank range,” Tragesser said. “So the defense played really well. I thought this week we played really well, too, because Penn-Trafford had two of the best running backs in our section. They're very tough to deal with when you have two kids like that.”
Norwin held Penn-Trafford (1-1, 1-0 Quad East Conference) to 10 points until a late fourth-quarter drive. The Warriors' first score came on an 85-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
“The big play is what really killed us,” Tragesser said. “We kicked it down to them deep in their territory, and then they came up with that big play. That's one that was really tough.”
After that play, Norwin tightened defensively and forced three turnovers, with juniors Corey Chrisman and Logan Deri forcing fumbles and sophomore Nick Amendola intercepting a pass.
The improved defense will face its biggest test yet, however, when Tribune-Review Class AAAA No. 6 McKeesport (2-0) visits Norwin Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
McKeesport coach George Smith, who won state championships in 1994 and 2005, returned this season and brought his powerful flexbone offense back with him. The Tigers rushed for 247 yards and four touchdowns in a 33-20 victory over Woodland Hills on Saturday, with David Queen adding a 56-yard touchdown pass.
“After seeing them play Saturday against Woodland Hills, I'd have to say they're the best team in our section, top to bottom,” Tragesser said. “I know Gateway has a lot of Division I players, but the way (McKeesport) executed Saturday and the skill level they have at the skill positions — to me right now, I'd say they're the best in our section.”
The Tigers' offense can be difficult to stop because they use a triple option, with anyone in the backfield a threat to run the ball.
“What makes it so difficult is that you can't practice it the way they run it,” Tragesser said. “You can't match up the speed, (and) you can't match up the skill with your scout team. It always presents a problem.”
While the Knights will look to limit McKeesport's offense, their own offense will need to put up some points of its own. Norwin scored its first points of the season on a 26-yard field goal by Daniel Passarello last week.
Turnovers again hurt, as quarterback Nick Amendola threw four interceptions. One came late as Norwin, down 10-3, was driving for a potential tying score.
“Obviously, we have to put some points on the board,” Tragesser said. “Going into the game, realistically looking at it, for us to shut them down is going to be really difficult. So we've got to try to put some points on the board and play with minimal mistakes.”
With six conference games remaining, Norwin will need to make up some ground in order to achieve its goal of making the playoffs. Tragesser said he saw some positives in the loss to Penn-Trafford, and he believes the Knights are on the right track.
“We're showing signs, and the kids are hustling,” he said. “It's just that we have to put everything together.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- High school notebook: Christy will join Knoch football staff
- Armstrong football captures 7-on-7 title at Alle-Kiski Valley competition
- Gateway senior Howard adds all-star game nod to Virginia verbal
- Several Alle-Kiski football teams eye season at Heinz Field
- Players benefit from A-K Valley 7-on-7, Big Man Challenge
- After busy June, Mars football team taking break before camp
- Passing offenses find rhythm at 7-on-7 events
- PIAA takes steps to shorten football season 1 week
- Former South Park coach Loughran optimistic about Fox Chapel’s prospects
- Armstrong football successful in debut during summer competition at Juniata