Norwin finishes season on high note
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In the days leading up to its final contest of the season, the Norwin football team set the goal of playing its best game of the year.
While the season's ultimate goal went unaccomplished, the Knights achieved their final-week expectations.
Norwin (2-7) closed out the regular season last week with a 42-14 victory over Shaler. While the players were disappointed they didn't achieve their preseason goal of making the playoffs, they were glad to close out the season with a victory.
“We think it was one of the best games we played all year,” senior Zack Tinsley said. “But unfortunately, we wish the season was a little better.”
After an 0-9 season in 2011 and a 2-7 finish last year, Norwin believed it had a chance to make a run at the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs this season.
Some close losses prevented that. Norwin had a chance to tie Penn-Trafford late before falling, 17-3, and came up just short of an upset victory of Gateway, falling by a 13-6 margin.
“We were all disappointed that the season didn't go the way we wanted it to, closing out with a 2-7 record,” Tinsley said. “We thought we should have won a lot of other games, including the Gateway game. The whole team wanted to go to the playoffs so bad, especially the senior class because the senior class never made it to the playoffs. That was our goal as seniors and as a team.”
“We just couldn't seem to get that big play when we needed it,” coach Art Tragesser said. “Really, the game that we'll go back and look on is the Gateway game. If we could have won that, that would have put a whole new perspective on the season and who knows what would have happened with the next game and things like that.
“After that game ... I didn't get them up to play the next game (a 31-7 loss to Hempfield) the way I should have. We were all sort of dwelling on the fact we lost that (Gateway) game. But they rebounded last week, and that was nice. I was happy that happened.”
Tragesser said the team played with five sophomores for much of the season.
“That's tough in (Class AAAA) when you do that,” Tragesser said. “You're talking about a kid, maybe 14 (years old), playing against a kid (who's) maybe 18. And they did well. But it's tough when you have to play a Quad-A schedule with that many sophomores.”
The sophomores showed up in a big way against Shaler (0-9). Quarterback Nick Amendola had his most efficient game of the season, completing 8 of 9 passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns and adding another 47 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Tight end Steven Petrick caught the Knights' first touchdown of the game, and Peyton Deri rushed for 125 yards and a 55-yard score in the second half.
As a whole, Norwin's offense played its best game of the season, achieving season highs in points (42) and yards (400). Tinsley rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns — his second 100-yard performance in three weeks.
“That was the biggest thing going into the last week: to have the best game of the season,” Tinsley said. “We wanted Friday to be the best game we had all season, and offensively we showed it.”
While this season ended in disappointment, Tinsley said the team bonded more this year than in past seasons. He hoped next year's season could have a better finish.
Tragesser said the senior class, which included several three-year starters, would be missed.
“It's always sad to see seniors leave and go on, but they're off to bigger and better things,” he said. “They did what we asked them to do all year, and they worked hard. It's always sad to see those guys leave. I was happy we could finish up and get a win for them. Hopefully, they leave with some happy memories of Norwin.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.
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