Two power running teams with winning records. A unique offense in the triple option. Division I college recruits, two successful head coaches — all of this from a pair of school districts that border each other, and are located just six miles apart.
Friday’s Edison (3-0) at Norwalk (2-1) non-league game will certainly have plenty of intrigue in the 33rd meeting between the two backyard rivals.
“Obviously this is a big rivalry with the proximity and history,” Edison coach Jim Hall said. “With Coach (Todd) Fox there now at Norwalk, he has got them excited and has good talent. This is going to be a challenge for us, but it’s good for us — and will help us down the road. You want to play in these types of games.”
Norwalk enters Friday’s game fresh off a 24-7 win at Port Clinton, a team expected to be one of Edison’s top opponents in the SBC Bay division.
But after turnovers proved costly in a 32-6 loss at Norwayne in Week 2, the Truckers still had trouble holding onto the football. Perhaps that speaks to the level Norwalk played, as it won by three scores despite six turnovers.
"We got better in certain areas, but there is still a lot to go in terms of being more disciplined and taking more of little things,” Fox said of the Truckers. “And that’s turnovers and penalties, things like that. We have to shore that stuff up.
“But the biggest positive was our defense was phenomenal and answered the bell over and over again. They responded each and every time we made a mistake. That game could have gotten a way from us, yet we won by 17 with six turnovers.”
Edison enters the game having racked up 116 points while allowing 50 (39-17 average score). The triple option offense has totaled more than 750 yards and 12 TDs thus far for the Chargers.
“We weren’t sure exactly how we were going to put up points, and we’ve been able to do it so far,” Hall said. “And it’s been pretty balanced approach with Cas (Mastropaolo) at fullback and Caleb (Bissell) running the offense pretty well.
“We have three or four halfbacks doing a nice job, and the receivers are coming on and will get better,” he added. “But we’ve been able to develop a little more identity and score to this point — and we hope this continues.”
And while Norwalk scrimmaged the triple option against Olmsted Falls, the Wing-T against Genoa — and saw a power run game with Norwayne, Fox says this is still quite different.
"We've gotten a look at it, but Edison runs it very well,” he said. “Defense has a big challenge this week to slow them down. We’re trying to be more consistent within our program, and we’re excited about the challenge. This is going to absolutely come down to 100 percent discipline.
“If one guy doesn't do his job, the other has a free path to go,” Fox added. “It’s a great offense, and quite honestly, the spread offense has more options to it now, causing more discipline to defend it. But you have to be able to secure the fullback, quarterback and pitch man … there are so many pieces to it defensively. It’s a fun week of prep, but it still comes down to sound tackling and defense.”
Meanwhile, Hall sees a Norwalk offense that may be as challenging of one as the Chargers will see in 2018.
Trevon Raymore has 497 yards and 4 TDs for Norwalk, with Garrett Chapin completing 33-of-54 passes for 515 yards with 3 TDs. Brandon Haraway is averaging 20 yards per catch (11 for 221), while Kaden Livingston is averaging 26 yards per catch (8 for 206).
“I think they are probably the most athletic team position by position,” he said. “At least as far as threats out wide, and then a running back that is very good and young quarterback coming along as runner and thrower.
“Put it all together, and they force you to spread the field and play good defense,” Hall added. “They look for mistakes and have some home run hitters. We have to be really solid.”
Norwalk’s defense has allowed 41 points (13.6) in three games. Josh Neuberger has 36.5 tackles, Alec Maloney has 33 — and University of Toledo commit Tche Leroux adds 28 tackles and four sacks. Ethan Hernandez also has 28 tackles.
“It’s the same deal, really good athletes, and what we’ve seen is a base defense that likes to mix things up at times,” Hall said of Norwalk. “But good athletes, good techniques, and they’re just doing things right. You can see that. Guys run to ball real well.”
Edison also boasts a strong front three on defense with Mastropaolo, Jacob Barnett and previously Jared Tomson, who is now out with an injury.
“They are fast, do a nice job of penetrating, and overall are just sound,” Fox said of the Chargers’ line. “I think you'll hear that when you play great programs, how fundamentally sound they are. Their senior class has played in nine extra games.
“That's a big advantage for them to develop,” he added. “Winning programs like Coach Hall has developed over there, they tend to get that swag and players pick up that mentality. And that's what we want to do it at Norwalk.”
Edison and Norwalk played for the first time in 1982, serving as the season opener every year from 1982-1997. After a two-year break, the series resumed in Week 1 from 2000-14 — and after another two-year layoff, they played in Week 2 last season, a 13-3 Edison win in Milan.
Edison leads the all-time series, 19-13. In all, 11 of the 32 games have been decided by one possession or less, while 17 of the meetings have been decided by two possessions or less. Four times the matchup has been decided by a single point.
Norwalk vs. Edison all-time series:
1982: Norwalk, 19-6
1983: Edison, 21-7
1984: Norwalk, 29-12
1985: Norwalk, 21-3
1986: Norwalk, 20-0
1987: Norwalk, 12-7
1988: Edison, 28-7
1989: Norwalk, 17-13
1990: Edison, 3-2
1991: Edison, 18-0
1992: Edison, 31-8
1993: Edison, 13-9
1994: Edison, 41-6
1995: Edison, 53-6
1996: Edison, 52-15
1997: Edison, 26-23
2000: Norwalk, 33-13
2001: Edison, 27-21, OT
2002: Edison, 7-0
2003: Edison, 48-27
2004: Norwalk, 28-24
2005: Edison, 25-13
2006: Edison, 34-24
2007: Norwalk, 13-12
2008: Edison, 37-36
2009: Edison, 35-19
2010: Edison, 35-18
2011: Norwalk, 14-13
2012: Norwalk, 64-21
2013: Norwalk, 56-13
2014: Norwalk, 28-14
2017: Edison, 13-3