NORWALK - It wasn't true, the rumor that the pregame line of folks to be recognized for Parents' Night Friday stretched all the way to Monroeville. But they had a backup public address man ready in case the Whitney Field regular lost his voice.
To be sure, there was no shortage of players wearing Norwalk navy. But the playmakers were wearing Columbian white.
The Tornadoes had the edge in all facets offense, defense and special teams in laying a 35-7 pasting on Norwalk to open Northern Ohio League play.
"Tonight was a night when we had everything working," said coach Steve Gilbert after his club evened its overall record at 2-2. "The special teams were good, coverage good, the defense really played well and offensively, we took advantage of what they gave us. We played a total football game."
Columbian did dominate while rolling up 351 yards in offense. Meanwhile, the defense limited Norwalk to 74 before the Truckers put together a 62-yard scoring drive in mop-up action in the final five minutes.
But it took some time for it all to come together.
Columbian 35, Norwalk 7
Columbian 7 7 14 7 - 35
Norwalk 0 0 0 7 - 7
TC - Jesse Hernandez 17 pass from Ryan Tittle (Derek Kneeskern kick), :32
TC - Tyler Ward 2 run (Kneeskern kick), 2:36
TC - Ward 19 pass from Tittle (kick failed), 3:56
TC - Mike Lee 15 pass from Tittle (Tittle run), :11
TC - Ward 1 run (Kneeskern kick), 5:15
N - Kyle Lieber 24 run (Bryan Crawford kick), 2:22
RUSHING: Columbian - Ward 12-55, Jack Jacoby 2-22, Tittle 17-20, Brandon Hindall 1-14, Kneeskern 1-5, Nate Burns 1-5. Norwalk - Lieber 27-107, Dustin Crabtree 19-24, David Bodde 1-(minus-1), Darian Cook (1-(minus-3).
PASSING: Columbian - Tittle 20-33-230-1. Norwalk - Crabtree 3-12-9-1.
RECEIVING: Columbian - Hernandez 5-64, Lee 5-63, Ward 4-57, Kneeskern 4-35, Jordan Cogar 1-8, Jordan Price 1-3. Norwalk - Phil Hurst 2-5, Tyler Wells 1-4.
Norwalk had three possessions and Columbian two that went mostly nowhere. But the Tornadoes were gaining in field position, so much so that a 28-yard punt by the Truckers' Scott Alexander put TC in business on the Norwalk 42.
Eight plays later, Ryan Tittle tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jesse Hernandez. Derek Kneeskern's kick made it 7-0 with just 32 seconds to go in the first period.
The half might have ended that way, but Jordan Cogar gave Columbian a spark by intercepting a Dustin Crabtree pass at the Norwalk 28. That set up Tyler Ward's 2-yard touchdown run that started up the middle but kicked out around left end for a 14-0 lead.
"Sometimes these guys just wait for something to happen before really getting things going," Gilbert said. "We knew we couldn't give them any energy so we had stay on them. And we had some kids respond."
"That was a sophomore rolling out, not really sure of himself," Norwalk coach Chris MacFarland, a 1987 Columbian graduate, said of Crabtree, who started because regular quarterback Tyson Ringle is out with an ankle injury. He wanted to make a play, but he probably should have run it because he was too far out of a pocket."
Norwalk (0-4, 0-1) might have gained a spark when Mitchel McGuckin's interception gave the Truckers the ball on their own 41 to start the second half. But they couldn't advance, and Tittle made amends by leading a 90-yard scoring march.
Included in the trip were three passes to Kneeskern, one to Mike Lee and a well-executed 19-yard TD screen pass to Ward.
"Ryan had his moments; he's getting better and better," Gilbert said. "He did a nice job of hitting the quick receiver off the blitz. Tyler's a game-changer who can turn something little into something big."
If that score put Norwalk down, the clincher was soon to come. Ward, who deflected an Alexander punt earlier, broke through for a block at the Trucker 24. Moments later, Tittle hit Lee for a 15-yard touchdown.
The final Tornado score came when Ward ran for 26 yards and then 1 yard to cap a 58-yard drive.
Kyle Lieber, who ran for 56 of his of his 107 yards rushing on Norwalk's final possession, put his team on the board with a 24-yard sprint.
"This a big win because it's a league win," Gilbert said. "I liked the way we had an answer for whatever they did and we got a chance to play a lot of people. I think they thought they could intimidate us by dressing the whole town, but our kids were excited."
And they were playmakers.