Norwin, kept out of playoffs by tiebreakers, savors win in season finale
Sunday, November 7, 2021 | 11:01 AM
Norwin players and coaches were all smiles after their final football game of the season.
They lingered long after they handled Hempfield, 27-7, on the road to finish 4-6 overall and 2-5 in the WPIAL Class 6A conference.
“It’s a blessing to see,” senior quarterback Luke Levendosky said. “Our guys come to work at practice, and it makes my job easier. When you have a good week of practice repping all that stuff, it’s going to set you up for success.”
While the Knights did not qualify for the WPIAL playoffs — four straight conference losses could not be offset by back-to-back wins — they can take momentum into next season.
Norwin had five combined wins the last three years. The team still is seeking its first winning season since 2008, but it made strides.
After a 16-7 win over No. 5-ranked Canon-McMillan appeared to get the Knights back into playoff contention, they downed Hempfield to move into a three-way tie with Canon- McMillan and Baldwin for fifth place.
The top five teams make the playoffs, but Norwin did not have enough tiebreaker points to advance.
Coach Dave Brozeski said it was tough to learn his team’s forfeit loss to Seneca Valley in Week 4 worked against the Knights. It took away 10 Gardner Points, the second tiebreaker after head-to-head competition.
A loss to Baldwin also hurt the Knights’ chances. Baldwin was the only team Norwin beat last year.
After playing well in a 35-14 loss to Penn-Trafford to open the season, Norwin had a dramatic 31-28 win over Latrobe and beat Connellsville, 37-0.
But losses to Central Catholic (50-0), Seneca Valley (forfeit), Baldwin (21-10), North Allegheny (42-24) and Mt. Lebanon (35-7) followed.
“You go back, and we had some interesting things happen this season,” Brozeski said. “With the covid game, then we came back and didn’t play a great game against Baldwin.
“The next two games, against North Allegheny and Mt. Lebanon, our guys battled their butts off and stood toe-to-toe with guys, we just didn’t finish.”
The Knights, playing with the idea that they could still make the playoffs, were mostly sharp against Hempfield.
Levendosky threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. He hit Dom Barca for a 52-yard bomb on the first play from scrimmage to kickstart the win.
Joey Castle made a pair of field goals, Josh Page had an interception and caught a 4-yard shovel pass for a touchdown in the win.
“After I threw that, I was like, ‘Let’s get it rolling,’” Levendosky said of the score to Barca. “It was awesome.”
Brozeski was pleased to see the Knights harness the momentum from the Canon-McMillan win.
“It was senior night,” Brozeski said. “We told our guys, keep on going. We saw improvement in the stats and how we were playing on film, and we finished. We control what we can do. We control how we respond to events.”
Brozeski hoped the WPIAL would not penalize teams for forfeiting because of covid issues.
“I am always going to battle for by guys and my team,” Brozeski said. “I am so proud of these guys. It could have been very easy … to fold it in, but they didn’t. It’s a testament to their character and how they have pride in Norwin.
“The only 6A game that wasn’t played was Norwin-Seneca Valley. Who knows? We could be right there.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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