Sports Editor’s Playbook, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011

Patrick Newell

A big thumbs up to Norwich High School and its volleyball team for a generous act of civic-mindedness and genuine caring at last week’s home game with Susquehanna Valley. A member of the NHS school administration noted the extensive damage to the flood-ravaged Conklin community, home of Susquehanna Valley schools.  A discussion was bandied about regarding a collaborative effort to extend a helping hand to the Sus Valley community. Norwich volleyball coach, Shelly Alger, said her team was playing Sus Valley that week, and a relief effort was born. In association with The Salvation Army, who supplied red donation buckets, Norwich’s varsity volleyball players presented cleaning supplies to members of the SV team. Amid some tears that were shed by the SV side, was sincere gratitude and appreciation.

It was clear after week two’s loss to Sidney, Norwich coach John Martinson needed to make some tweaks and adjustments. The running game, long Norwich’s staple, was inconsistent. Against the Blue Devils, Norwich ran for nearly 200 yards, the Tornado’s best rushing numbers against their longtime rival in perhaps a decade. “We moved ‘Mongo,” Kegan Levesque to left guard. We knew we needed to get him on the field. He’s our strongest kid, and he squats like 520 pounds. We got him in there, and we did a little package with Seth (Thomsen) and Michael (Sutton) to get Seth the ball outside. I didn’t feel my hands were tied. I figured, let’s just throw the ball. What’s the worst thing that can happen? We can beat Forks. We did a couple of things like that, we got in a flow, and the kids executed.” Norwich also won the special teams battle, in large credit due to the directional punting of junior Kyle Edwards. Edwards did a fine job of limiting punt returns against Sidney a week ago averaging over 40 yards per boot, and he kept the ball away from Chenango Forks’ return men as well. Late in the first quarter, Edwards’ 41-yard punt to the CF six allowed Norwich to take control of the field position battle leading to the first score. Early in the fourth, Edwards’ 35-yarder set up Forks at its own 11. On the next play, the Blue Devils fumbled the ball away setting the table for the Tornado’s final touchdown. Late in the game, Edwards had his third punt of the game inside the 10, one that the Blue Devils muffed setting them back to the three yard line. In desperation mode, the Blue Devils threw an interception two plays later, their fourth turnover of the contest.