Norwalk football coach Todd Fox felt his team did that on Saturday. After a practice scrimmage with Division II playoff regular Olmsted Falls at home on Tuesday, the Truckers traveled to Genoa on Saturday to square off with a Div. V playoff mainstay.
“Our goal was to be able to get better between Tuesday and Saturday,” Fox said. “We had a few areas we wanted to get better at in terms of finishing plays and playing the game faster — and we’re happy with that. We’ll get to film and find more areas to improve next week.”
Norwalk’s varsity scored seven times on Saturday, but Fox was most pleased with the defensive side of things against the Comets.
“We actually mixed in a little more guys on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “We’re really happy with Jakob Stebel and Anthony Weisenburger and how they played up front. Those are a couple guys who have been pushing for more time there.”
In the quest to replace a 2,500-yard running back, All-Ohioan Trevon Raymore, the Truckers got another look at where that is headed on Saturday.
“Today we gave Evan Stumpf a few more carries than Tuesday, and he gave us more glimpses of what he can do,” Fox said. “That combo in our backfield with Maloney and others has us excited for our running game.”
Playing a Div. I-II schedule, Olmsted Falls and head coach Tom DeLuca, a 1999 NHS graduate, are 28-10 with two regional runners-up finishes over the past three seasons. Meanwhile, the Comets lost by three points in a Div. V regional title game last season.
With Norwalk traveling to Mansfield Senior in the Aug. 30 season opener, Fox is more than thrilled at the preseason competition — which concludes on Friday at Whitney Field vs. Shelby.
“We’re excited about being able to play teams like Genoa and Olmsted Falls to get us warmed up,” he said. “We come out of the gate with a good team, so playing a team like Genoa can determine where you’re at — and we walked away feeling good and confident about first two scrimmages.
“We felt like we were able to control it where we wanted to, while running a very small playbook,” Fox added. “It’s been a great feel of pace with our camp. We haven’t been complacent and the kids are pushing through.”
Last season’s Norwalk rout of Shelby marked the the 92nd consecutive year — and 98th time overall — that the two have played in a series that dated back 119 years to 1899.
But Shelby joined the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference following the transition from the Northern Ohio League to the Sandusky Bay Conference beginning this season in football. That left only three non-league openings, and Shelby will continue to play Mansfield Madison and Lexington — then Sunbury Big Walnut in Week 3 this season before another longtime rival, Bellevue, returns in 2020.
Meanwhile, Norwalk replaced the Whippets in 2019 with MOAC member and former NOL foe Ontario at home on Sept. 27.
But despite the schedule change, the two teams were able to at least keep the matchup as a scrimmage, set for 6 p.m. Friday at Whitney Field.
“It is disappointing that it’s not a regular season game when it comes to Shelby,” Fox said. “But we’re going to approach it as a preview. As much as we’re excited it’s Shelby, we will get our young guys in quickly.
“We’ve been fortunate health-wise, but we also want to be efficient with that,” he added. “Shelby will see our starters first thing, but right away we will also start rotating guys to keep things good there.”