After Norwalk football coach Todd Fox watched Friday’s turnover-filled, 32-6 non-league loss at Norwayne, the first-year coach still has the same viewpoint days later as he did immediately following the game.
"Our message has remained to not let it define us,” Fox said. “That game is over. We're defined by what we respond with. We just have to get better with that.”
The Truckers (1-1) committed five turnovers in the loss — one week removed from playing turnover-free in a 42-21 win over Mansfield Senior on Aug. 24 in the season opener. Two of those turnovers were returned for touchdowns, and a third gave the Bobcats (1-1) a short field to work with to set up another score.
“I think what we saw was exactly what we expected out of Norwayne,” Fox said. “They were fundamentally sound and played really well. For us, we did had some turnovers and didn't respond well to those situations we were in — from our coaches down to our players.
“It's a learning experience and is part of the process,” he added. “And again, we all have to get better with that.”
In what will be a broken record theme this season, Norwalk’s schedule only grows more difficult by the week. Up next is this Friday at Port Clinton. While the Redskins (1-1) are one of the three teams on Norwalk’s schedule that did not reach the playoffs in 2017 — they were the preseason coaches selection to win the SBC Bay division. Port Clinton went 5-5 last season.
"Obviously our schedule doesn't get any easier,” Fox said. “Port Clinton is the projected Bay winner, and Coach (Beau) Carmon has done a great job there. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
The Redskins, who a year ago in Norwalk held off the Truckers after losing a 20-0 lead in a 27-21 win, enter Friday's game with mixed results as well.
Port Clinton had a tall task in its season opener at Sandusky on Aug. 24, and fell to the Blue Streaks, 48-21. Last week, the Redskins got in the win column with a 47-33 win at Rossford.
Quarterback Colton Klima is 18-of-33 passing (55 percent) for 276 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Running backs Ian Willoughby (242 yards, TD) and Cooper Stine (177 yards, 3 TDs) give the 'Skins a good 1-2 punch in the backfield.
Klima has spread the wealth to his receivers, with Gunar Zink catching four passes for 64 yards, and Zayne Manning adds two catches for 86 yards and a TD.
"They have two very good running backs and a quarterback who can throw the ball down the field," Fox said of Port Clinton. "They play fast.
"We have to focus on the controllable things and how we prepare in practice this week to be ready to go on Friday night," he added.
Defensively, it's been a bit of a struggle at the start of the season for Port Clinton. The Redskins have allowed 629 yards of offense and 12 TDs for 81 points in two games. Through the air, the Blue Streaks and Bulldogs combined for 29-of-43 pass attempts for 419 yards and 6 TDs against the Port Clinton defense.
On the ground, the 'Skins have been much tighter, yielding 229 yards on 49 attempts.
Zink paces Port Clinton with 14 tackles and two sacks.
Norwalk has yielded 286 yards and 3 TDs on 19-of-28 passing over the first two games. On the ground, the Truckers have allowed 313 yards and a pair of TDs on 86 attempts.
After getting away from a balanced offense as the deficit grew at Norwayne, Fox said the Truckers will need to get back to form this week.
Sophomore QB Garrett Chapin was 12-of-24 passing for 108 yards, and receiver Brandon Haraway also completed a 40-yard pass to Kaden Livingston for 25 pass attempts.
On the ground, Norwalk ran 31 times for 177 yards, with Trevon Raymore totaling 137 yards on 22 attempts. He has 392 yards rushing through the first two weeks.
"They have some real nice linebackers, and really, just have a lot of great defenders," Fox said of Port Clinton. "We're going to have to try and contain them and keep our attack balanced.
"Last week, we got a little more pass happy than what we want to get to," he added. "But we have to stretch the field and pound the ball down the middle if we need to."