Truckers roll into town to face Tornadoes

Columbian coach Judd Lutz has admitted its been tough getting the running game going.

The Tornadoes come into tonight’s game with Norwalk with just 433 yards on the ground, the second-lowest total in the Northern Ohio League.

“The running game, it’s been tough sledding so far,” Lutz said, “(against) some big teams who are just a little bit bigger than us up front, and a little bit better.”

Through five games, the Tornadoes’ top rusher is quarterback Todd Simonds, who has 173 yards.

Lutz said the Tornadoes are working on some schemes to improve the blocking.

“Running back-wise, we don’t have a 210-, 215-pound running back who will carry the ball 30 times,” Lutz said. “We’re sharing carries between some good guys, and trying to figure out who the horse is, but not hurt any of them too much, because they’re all playing defense as well.”

Aside from Simonds, Caden Blust and Tyler Eisenhower have seen the bulk of the carries. As a team, the Tornadoes are averaging 3.4 yards per rush.

“It’s been a tough go of it,” Lutz said. “But the sense of urgency to run the football when it matters, at the end of the season, is through the roof. We’re trying to stress that in practice and give the guys some confidence and find ways to do it.”

They will try to do it against a Norwalk squad that comes in with a 3-2 mark, coming off a 34-14 drubbing of Ontario.

“They have some really good linebackers,” Lutz said of the Truckers’ defense. “They have couple of kids that are really physical but also run really well. Their defensive backs, safeties and corners, do some really good things. They’re good in coverage, but they also come up and tackle.”

Linebacker Rashod Raymore leads the Truckers with 32 tackles to go with a sack and a fumble recovery. Defensive back Trenten Morrow and linebacker Brandon Haraway have two picks each.

Norwalk, led by Columbian graduate Chris McFarland, won last week despite playing without its primary quarterback. Sophomore Brandon Haraway started last week in place of Trenten Morrow, who was injured in the previous week’s loss to Shelby.

On the season, Haraway has completed 30 of 60 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns, while running for 172 yards. Morrow has thrown for 421 yards and four TDs.

On top of that, Trevon Raymore (234 yards) and Rashod Raymore (101 yards) help pace the running game.

“They’ve done a really good job of mixing things up offensively, week to week with small changes formationally and motions and everything,” Lutz said. “I’m sure we’ll see some new stuff; we’ve got to adapt and be ready.”

Even though the Tornadoes lost to Bellevue last week and fell to 1-4, Lutz said he was encouraged by some things, especially defensively.

“Defensively, I think we’ve made great strides in finding some guys in certain positions,” he said. “I think we still need to improve on tackling, tackling one-on-one and in some space. But we’ve had some really good play out of some defensive lineman and linebacking play. Kind of an ever-revolving door of who is where and trying to figure that out still, but they’ve definitely stepped up and solidified themselves into some positions.”

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.