Getting his Class B No. 10 Norris football team psyched up to host cross-county rival and third-ranked Waverly on Friday night won’t be an issue for first-year Titans head coach Ty Twarling.
The challenge may be getting that emotional temperature just right. Too hot can sometimes be just as detrimental as too cool.
“I’m trying to keep this a normal week for them and treat it like any other game,” said Twarling, who has noticed an uptick in intensity at practice this week. “Emotions can run high in a rivalry game like this, and if we need to, we will tap those down a little bit to make sure we’re focused on executing our assignments every play.”
It may be difficult to keep Titans senior all-state running back Ashton Hausmann from getting extremely fired up. Hausmann, a 1,000-yard rusher a year ago, missed the past two Norris-Waverly matchups (both won by Waverly) because of injury.
“I’ve been battling it out against those (Waverly) guys since third grade in every sport,” said Hausmann, a 6-foot, 210-pound Nebraska walk-on recruit and the Class B 100-meter champion at state track last spring. “This is my last chance (in football), so I’m really excited for this one.”
Last Friday, Hausmann exploded for 192 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Titans (3-1) to a 42-22 win over Blair. His 42-yard TD run in the second quarter started a run of 28 consecutive points to break open a close game. Hausmann, who has 372 yards in four games this season, added a 66-yarder in the third quarter.
Defenses can’t focus strictly on Hausmann anymore, not with Twarling’s wide-open offensive attack that is utilizing senior quarterback Aidan Oerter’s accurate passing and a vast array of receivers.
The 6-2, 190-pound senior, who is receiving Division II college recruiting interest, was 12-of-17 for 216 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Bears. For the season, Oerter is completing just over 63% of his passes (52-of-82) for 897 yards and eight TDs.
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In the win over Blair, Oerter connected with five different receivers, led by Ethan Schmidt’s five catches for 81 yards and a TD and James Carnie’s three receptions for 52 yards and the other score.
For the season, eight receivers have caught passes, with the 6-1 senior Schmidt (14 catches for 249 yards, two TDs) and the 6-4 junior Carnie (14-248, two TDs) leading the way.
“This offense is more complex, and it’s taken time to learn it,” said Oerter, who is playing more defense with junior defensive back Matt Medill sidelined with a knee injury. “We’re still working the kinks out, but we saw glimpses of what it looks like last week when we execute it.”
Norris may need that diverse offense as its best defense against Waverly’s dominating ground game that’s been the Vikings’ staple in their 4-0 start. Waverly has rushed for 1,606 yards this season(401.5 yards per game average), an attack led by senior quarterback Mason Nieman (527 yards, seven TDs) and junior running backs Zane Schawang (469 yards, five TDs) and Evan Canoyer (328 yards, eight TDs).
Norris faced a similar offense against Blair, with the Bears’ Dex Larsen gaining 209 yards on 37 carries and scoring both touchdowns. Norris junior linebacker Dylan Meyer (6-1, 225) had 18 tackles in that game (two for losses) to run his season total to a team-high 55.
Meyer will also figure highly in this week’s scheme against Waverly.
“Waverly is a very physical team, and we have to be ready to match their physicality,” Twarling said. “They have a big offensive line, a talented quarterback and some tough, physical running backs. Playing Blair was good preparation for what we’ll see Friday.”