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Norwin football prepares for marquee games in coming weeks

| Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Norwin wide receiver Jake Kijucaric pulls down a reception as Connellsville linebacker Josh Cree closes in during their September 27, 2013 contest in Connellsville.

The Norwin football team is preparing for a busy three weeks.

With Senior Night and Homecoming on the schedule, not to mention games against three playoff-caliber opponents in Kiski, Gateway and Hempfield, the Knights are looking forward to the final three-game stretch of section play.

“We have an exciting three games coming up here, against really playoff teams,” Norwin coach Art Tragesser said. “Two of them are going to be at home. We have an exciting end to the season, so hopefully we can come together here and get it going and possibly come up with some wins.”

The three-game stretch begins with Friday's home contest against Kiski Area on Senior Night. The Cavaliers (2-3, 2-2) enter the game in fifth place in the Quad East Conference after a 56-28 loss last week to Pine-Richland.

While Kiski comes into the game with a three-game losing streak, Tragesser expects a strong challenge from the Cavaliers. Kiski is led by a strong group of playmakers, including quarterback Chad Kuhn, wide receiver Joe Brungo, tight end Shane Kuhn and running backs Lincoln Clayton, Justice Evans and Pat Turner.

Brungo, Shane Kuhn and punter/kicker Adam Mitcheson have all received Division I interest to play in college.

“Kiski has a lot of talent, maybe the best talent overall that we've seen (so far) as far as their skill positions,” Tragesser said. “They have two terrific running backs, they have very good wide receivers, they have a very good tight end, they have a strong offensive line and their quarterback's strong. So it'll be a challenge. But that's the fun part about coaching, (and) that's the fun part about playing — rising up to the challenge.”

Norwin (1-4, 1-4) enters the game coming off a 40-14 loss to Connellsville last week. The Knights fell behind, 20-0, early and rallied to cut their deficit to 20-14 in the third quarter before Connellsville put the game away.

The defense struggled against Connellsville, as the Falcons rolled up 435 yards of offense, including 311 on the ground. Falcons running back Christopher Russell rushed for 119 yards and four touchdowns, while quarterback Jade Maher added 125 passing yards and two touchdowns.

“Connellsville played very well,” Tragesser said. “We didn't play very well. We had our difficulties stopping them. We were trying to do a lot of things, but we just couldn't stop them.”

Norwin's offense showed some improvement in the passing game, as Nick Amendola threw for 211 yards. Amendola added 66 rushing yards and a touchdown, and the Knights also scored on a Jon LoChiatto fumble recovery.

The Knights, who began the season with playoff hopes, now face a must-win scenario for all three of their final conference games. The team is tied with Altoona for seventh place in the conference, and only the top five teams are guaranteed playoff spots.

“(We have to) get them going,” Tragesser said. “I think we have good enough football players that we can win these three games. We really could. But we have a breakdown here, a breakdown there. We just have to coach them up to play better than they think they are.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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