This week, the 1-0 Norwell Knights will travel to 1-1 Leo to face the Leo Lions in Cedarville. These two have recently been apart of some of the biggest games over the past few seasons, including Leo’s 41-7 win at Norwell last season that ultimately decided the conference.
Over the last 35 years, Leo holds a 14-6 lead on Norwell with the Lions last loss to Norwell coming as a ACAC school when Norwell won 14-13 at Leo back in 2014. This is a game that will showcase two contrasting styles of football, more so than ever before.
In the past, Leo has run the Wing-T offense under Jared Sauder. But now with the team going to a more contemporary style of football under Jason Doerffler, there’s a transition period of going into the more pass-friendly Spread offense. It has shown its moments, but it’s looking solid so far. It seems like we’re starting to see good chemistry being shown between Kylar Decker at QB and TE Brock Schott. The defense, especially up front has shown tremendous promise led by Kamden Zeisloft who had two INT’s against Angola last week. The interior D-line is critical to Leo’s success on that side of the ball, especially against a very physical Norwell team.
Norwell, as you might expect, plays a very physical blue-collar style of football that agitates opposing teams around the state. This style of offense is not flashy and will not always get the front headlines, but for the boys in Ossian it’s typical Norwell, and perfect Norwell Knights football. The Modified I offense showcases a team that’s going to bring an explosive power-game by running the football. At Norwell, they use three different backs to amplify that dangerous offense: Luke Graft, Jon Colbert, and Trey Boldenheimer. If you can’t stop the 3-headed beast in that offense, you’re not beating Norwell.
And if you think you can just contain the run, think again. Lleyton Bailey has shown steady progression as their senior QB, and that experience is paying off to a great future beyond Norwell high school. This strategic and manipulative offense really forces defenses to work that much harder to make stops, and rarely do they make mistakes with the football. Brody Bolyn is a Bowling Green State commit and will transition to center in college.
On defense, it is just as physical with a team that stops the run so effectively and has the athletes and speed to disrupt the passing game, which is a key area when playing this revolutionized Leo offense that will definitely throw the ball more. If Norwell can limit the downfield passes and make this a game of mental chess and small chunk yard plays, that’ll frustrate the rhythm of Leo’s offense.
The key here is grabbing the lead early and often, especially for Norwell, so that they can control the clock and play the type of football they want to force teams to play.