NORTON, Mass. -- Prior to its game against Westwood, Norton felt disrespected. The undefeated Wolverines were coming to their turf, and though the Lancers were undefeated themselves, they didn’t hear anyone picking them to win.
Friday night they got a chance to prove their doubters wrong, and they delivered.
In a battle of the unbeaten Tri-Valley League teams, Norton used a big second half to roll over Westwood, 28-6.
“We didn’t get shown much respect in our league and everyone thought Westwood was going to beat us,” Lancers junior running back Zach Schweiger said. “Everyone thought their big running back was going to do a whole bunch against us but we shut him down and executed on offense.”
That “big running back” for Westwood (4-1) is, of course, 5-foot-10 215 pound senior Sean Amaru who ran for 335 yards and 6 touchdowns against Millis last week. Against Norton (5-0), Amaru ran for 25 yards on 11 carries in the first half before suffering a high left ankle sprain that caused him to miss the entire second half.
Amaru did push across the game’s first score when he plowed his way into paydirt from two yards out with 6:34 remaining in the second quarter, but it was the only scoring Westwood would get for the remainder of the contest.
With Amaru out, the Wolverines amassed just 60 yards of total offense in the second half.
“We’d like to think we’re more than one dimensional,” said Westwood coach Paul Hallion. “A one-dimensional team is never going to win a championship. Maybe it’s a little bit of a wake up call.”
The Amaru touchdown seemed to wake up Norton, which possessed the ball for less than three minutes before taking control after the Westwood score. They answered with a 71-yard drive that ended with an eight-yard touchdown run by Schweiger. An extra point by Scott Coleman gave the Lancers the 7-6 lead going into the half.
In the first half, the Lancers turned the ball over twice and suffered four penalties — one of which negated a 66-yard touchdown run by Schweiger (15 carries, 100 yards).
With the momentum of a late second quarter score, Norton’s second half was a different story — much cleaner.
“At the [halftime] break we talked about a few things, but kids just kind of got their heads out of their butts,” Schweiger said with a laugh. “There weren’t any more real costly penalties after that so it was all good.”
Norton struck on the second half’s opening kick. After pinning Westwood inside their own 10, Carlos Silva stripped Wolverines running back David DeCenzo (11 carries, 50 yards). Joe Wilkes recovered at Westwood’s 8-yard line, and two plays later, Coleman scampered into the end zone off a pitch to cushion the Lancers’ lead.
“That was huge,” Norton head coach Ted Currle said. “We worked stripping [the football] all week long. Gang tackling and let’s strip it from [Sean] Amaru. It wasn’t Amaru but, hey, we got a turnover and it was a huge one.”
Coleman (58 total yards) helped put the game away, thwarting Westwood’s best second-half drive with an interception in the end zone to start the fourth quarter. Five plays later, he caught a slant from quarterback Brendan Curtin (5-6, 84 yards) and turned on the burners, out-running the Wolverines for a 53-yard touchdown, his second of the game.
Following a Wilkes interception, Schweiger started Norton’s next drive with a 41-yard rush. He book-ended the possession with his second score, a run from six yards out with 2:52 remaining.
Though the Lancers may feel vindicated after the win, they know there’s a good chance they’ll see Westwood again.
“Whoever makes it out of this league to the playoffs, they’re going be beat up no matter what,” Currle said. “If we see them again I know what type of game it’s going to be -- very difficult.”
Norton’s work in the trenches was impressive. The Lancers kept Amaru in check for the first half and paved the way for Schweiger and Coleman in the second half. The scary thing for the Tri-Valley League? A pair of immovable objects — 6-4, 265-pound junior Luke Potvin and 5-11, 235-pound sophomore Stephen Hudson — will be back next year.“I know how hard they worked and I they know what we’re doing,” said Currle. “I thought they dominated from the second quarter on. That’s how you win football games, it was great."
Westwood was snake bitten with injuries as senior linebacker Brendan Skehill missed most of this game as well.“If we had Skehill the whole game, that’s a 14-6, 14-14 game,” said Hallion. “We had to make so many changes because we had so many key injuries to starters. It’s the TVL. You have a lot of two-way players so when one goes down it’s like having two people go down.”
Curtain suffered an ankle sprain returning a punt at the end of the first half. He missed one play but returned to the game. He took the remainder of Norton’s snaps with a noticeable limp. Senior lineman Shawn Ferrini suffered a more “severe” sprained ankle, according to Currle. He missed most of the second half.
Westwood – 0 6 0 0 - 6
Norton – 0 7 7 14 – 28
W – Amaro 2 rush (kick failed)
N – Schweiger 8 rush (Coleman kick)
N – Coleman 5 rush (Coleman kick)
N – Coleman 53 pass from Curtin (Coleman kick)
N – Schweiger 6 rush (Coleman kick)