The Madison Blue Streaks spoiled the coaching debut of Normandy's Harry Caruthers on Thursday night in a nonleague football opener at Byers Field in Parma. For the Invaders, it was an opening day they'd rather not remember.
Throughout the night, it was evident that coach Caruthers offense was not totally gelling with his game plan. Although this tends to happen with new head coaches, Caruthers was the defensive coordinator for Normandy from just a season ago. Defensively, Normandy wasn't much better either.
In high school football, generally speaking, if you tackle the ball carrier, you stand a descent shot at getting the win. Normandy missed their opportunities to bring down Madison half backs such as Josh March and Mark Curry, and once these two backs got into the secondary, it was end of story; they could run all day. With a heavy workload, Josh March compiled 149 yards on the ground on 22 carries, and scored three of Madison's touchdowns. Mark Murray added 64 yards while running the ball 10 times and scored in the end zone also.
A good running game will always set up big pass plays. This is one of the fundamentals of football that Madison clearly picked up on. A few play action passes from their ground threat lead to wide open pass plays for big gains in the Blue Streak's aerial attack. Quarterback Andy Karlson completed 8-of-10 passes for 187 yards, connecting with Josh March for an 84-yard catch and run, and Billy Skerkavich on a 37-yard touchdown pitch.
At first glance, the Madison Blue Streak unit seemed undersized and unbalanced, but their overall team speed, agility, and play making ability lead them to a field day against the Invader's defense. The Blue Streak's defensive line wrecked havoc in the Normandy backfield, making sure the Invader ball carriers had no holes to run to; they plugged all the gaps. A few fumbles on the handoff did not help Normandy's case either.
Although the final score didn't indicate it, the Invaders did have a few things working in their favor. They usually got the good field position, but weren't able to take advantage of it. They were pretty effective on first and second down, but third downs were a different story. The drives put together by Madison were not long and unbearable for a Normandy fan to watch, by any means. It was usually one or two big gains that put the ball in the end zone for the Blue Streaks. Madison committed a few early dim-witted clipping penalties, but they were negated by multiple sacks of the Normandy quarterback.
Once the Madison offense scored for the first time, their lead was there to stay. They built it up strong to a 29-0 halftime advantage before the Invaders finally found the end zone late in the third quarter. It was the start that the Blue Streaks were looking for, and then some; and the start that the Invaders were looking to avoid. They go into week 2 against Shaq Washington and the Maple Heights Mustangs with a sour taste in their mouth. Maple Heights is ranked fourth in the Plain Dealer's Top 25 teams.