Norwin preps for conference finale on Friday
Norwin's football team has made steady improvement throughout the season, but the Knights aren't yet ready to take down the district's elite.
Quad East co-leader and Class AAAA No. 2 Gateway showed why it is atop the conference by pulling away early from Norwin in a 62-14 win Friday night in Monroeville.
The deep ball gave the Knights (1-6, 1-6) problems all night, as quarterback Thomas Woodson finished with 278 yards and five touchdowns on 10-for-13 passing for the Gators (6-1, 6-0), but Norwin head coach Art Tragesser wasn't displeased with his team, which had to battle injuries and some physical mismatches in the contest.
“They're a real good team, and we couldn't match up with their speed. We did scrimmage North Hills and Mt. Lebanon, who are real good teams, but the hard part preparing for Gateway is duplicating their speed in practice,” Tragesser said.
“It was a great learning experience for our kids. We lost several defensive backs and had kids that were starting for the first time. I was glad to see them get a chance to play and get that experience.”
Norwin's two touchdowns came courtesy of a 42-yard run by senior Casey Rebosky and a fumble recovery in the end zone by sophomore defensive back Zeke Kljucaric, both of which came in the second half.
“The kids did some really good things Friday night, even if it didn't always show up on the scoreboard,” Tragesser said. “A lot of them are going to be around for two more years, so they just need to keep playing hard and trying to improve their performance.”
The Knights close out their 2012 schedule with two home games, the first of which is their final Quad East game against Hempfield this Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Norwin could play spoiler for the Spartans (3-4, 3-3), who are in the mix for a playoff spot despite dropping their last three games, the most recent to Butler in a nonconference game, 23-10, last Friday.
Injuries in the backfield have played a role in Hempfield's recent slide, as leading rusher Joey DeFloria has been out for the past three games, while other Spartans runners have missed time this season, as well.
Starting quarterback Ty George and dual-threat quarterback/running back DeLorian Day have been leading the Hempfield offense, and they have the benefit of working behind one of the biggest offensive lines in the conference.
“They have a lot of kids coming back from last year that played. They have an established quarterback, a good running game and a big line. They're way bigger than we are,” Tragesser said. “We're just going to have to bounce back from that loss and play a great game to try and win this week.”
The Spartans likely will need one more win to reach the playoffs, either against the Knights or in their finale against Penn-Trafford. Norwin, with the loss to Gateway and other Friday night results, was officially eliminated from playoff contention, as its final game of the season is a nonconference meeting with Shaler.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.