Norton’s big offensive line was a big problem for the Thomas More Prep-Marian football team.
The Bluejays overpowered the Monarchs at the line of scrimmage in Friday night’s game, opening big holes in the running game and giving time to throw the ball in the passing game. Norton scored on all six of its drives in the first half and cruised to a 56-19 Mid-Continent League victory at Lewis Field Stadium.
“They’re probably the most physical line we’ve played against,” TMP coach Jay Harris said. “A lot of wrestlers on that front line. They’re probably one of the best lines we’ve seen this year.”
Norton senior quarterback Kade Melvin threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 156 yards and two more scores, including one from 53 yards out, when it appeared he was stopped for no gain only to break loose and dash into the end zone. Senior running back Luke Wahlmeier added 104 yards on the ground and three TDs.
TMP started out in the wishbone to try to get the running game going but met a stone wall in the Bluejay defensive line. The Monarchs switched things up on offense and found some success in the passing game. Freshman quarterback Kade Harris threw for 141 yards and two touchdowns, both to sophomore receiver Jace Wentling, who finished with six catches for 132 yards. Melvin did pick off a Harris pass and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown only to have it call back by offsetting penalties during the return.
Coach Harris said the wishbone was something the team had been working on all season and thought Friday was the time to try it in a game. Those same big linemen on offense were stopping the run on defense, so TMP went to the air.
“Passing game tonight worked well for us once we figured out that’s what we need to do,” Coach Harris said.
With backups playing during a continuous clock in the fourth quarter, TMP scored twice, including a 50-yard run by sophomore Lance Lang on the final play of the game.
“These guys have battled every game,” Coach Harris said. “That says a lot about them, their heart, the pride in what they’re doing.”
TMP (1-5 overall, 0-3 district) travels to Minneapolis next Friday. The Lions (2-4, 0-3) lost at Hoisington (6-0, 3-0) on Friday, 55-19. Norton (4-2, 3-0) will take a four-game winning streak into next Friday’s game at Ellsworth (5-1, 2-1), a 21-12 winner at Minneapolis on Friday.