Norton High JV Football Defeats Bellingham Blackhawks
Lancers win, 16-6, holiday warm-up.
The Norton High junior varsity football team completed its season in terrific fashion, registering a dominant 16-6 win over Bellingham in a Tri-Valley League contest last Friday night at Adams Field.
The Lancers completed the 2010 campaign with a 4-5 record. And Norton could have had two more victories, holding 14-0 and 16-0 half-time leads in two other games this fall, only to drop tough decisions during the second half of those contests.
Last Friday night, junior running back Stefen Winfield carried the ball 11 times for 53 yards and a touchdown. Freshman running back Zack Sicard had nine touches for 89 yards. He had eight carries for 66 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught one pass for 23 yards. Sicard also had a two-point conversion run.
"We planned on running our power game and Winfield is a good power runner," said Norton JV head coach Pat Coleman, whose assistant is Tom Petersen. "We also wanted to use Sicard on the outside because he is such a good breakaway runner."
Junior starting quarterback Gary Portway did a nice job directing a Norton offense that churned out 192 yards and seven first downs, including 142 yards on the ground. Portway was three of six passing for 65 yards. He also had seven carries for 16 yards.
Freshman Danny Gannon saved his best performance of the season for the final game of the year as he was a standout on both sides of the ball. He caught two passes for 42 yards and was a part of three turnovers forced by the Lancer defense from his defensive back position. Gannon grabbed two interceptions and also recovered a fumble.
"Danny is only a freshman and has played primarily on the freshman team this year," said Coleman. "But this was a breakout night for him. He was our primary passing target."
The Norton offensive line played very well during the victory. That group consisted of juniors Marc Daitch, Rob Butler, Matt Pelletier and Danny Kehoe as well as sophomores Jack Keane, Nick Petersen and Anthony Hallgren.
The Lancer defense also excelled on this night, led by sophomore defensive lineman Erik Berglund and Jack Cuneo. Sophomore linebackers Evan Moitoza, Brett Pike and Zach Buttner performed well as did sophomore defensive backs Andrew Nartowicz, and John Fitzgerald. Senior Chris Hunter also contributed to the victory.
Norton took full control of this game in the first half, compiling 169 yards of offense and six first downs, including 119 rushing yards. The Lancers also held the Blackhawk offense totally in check, surrendering just 43 yards and two first downs in the half.
The hosts held a 16-0 lead at the break. After Sicard took the opening kickoff of the game to the 50-yard line, Norton drove 50 yards on nine plays, which took 5:39 off the clock.
Winfield had 22 yards on four carries during the possession, while Sicard had two carries for 22 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown run. Sicard added the two-point conversion run, giving the Lancers an 8-0 lead with 5:21 left in the first quarter.
Norton increased its lead during its first possession of the second quarter. A Gannon interception at the Bellingham seven-yard line set up the offense at the Norton 37.
On the first play from scrimmage, Sicard took off on a 23-yard run, giving Norton a first down at the Bellingham 21. Winfield then took over, picking up the final 21 yards on two carries, culminating the drive with a six-yard touchdown run. Portway then bulled his way in for two points on the conversion run, pushing the Lancer lead to 16-0.
The hosts actually had a chance to score again at the end of the first half, but the clock ran out before they could push the ball across the goal line.
Following a punt, Norton began at its own 45. With Portway hitting Sicard for 23 yards and Gannon for 27 yards, the Lancers had a first and goal at the Bellingham 7 with eight seconds left in the half. On the final play of the half, Portway tried to pick up the remaining seven yards, but was stopped at the one yard line as time expired in the half.
"Things really came together for us tonight," said Coleman. "The kids did a nice job. This team has pretty good talent. They just have been looking for their identity all season. We have a tough bunch of kids, who work hard. They found their identity in this game."
The Norton defense continued to hold off the Blackhawks in the third quarter, halting one drive on a Gannon fumble recovery at the Norton 45. The hosts then thwarted another scoring attempt at its own 47 by forcing an incomplete pass on fourth down.
Bellingham's offensive frustrations continued in the fourth quarter as Gannon's second interception of the night stopped a drive at the Lancer 48 yard line.
The Blackhawks finally got on the scoreboard on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 38 seconds remaining in the game. But the Lancers halted Bellingham's passing attempt for two points, keeping their lead at 10 points at 16-6. Norton then recovered the ensuing on-side kick and Portway took a knee to end the game with a victory for the Lancers.
"We played very well," said Coleman. "In the Bellingham game last year, it came down to the last play and they beat us. We thought we had the game won, but they threw a long pass into the end zone for a touchdown. This game was nice revenge for last year."