H.S. Football: Mykal Norris (3 TDs), Northampton roll past West Side, 33-12 (PHOTOS)

  • Northampton’s Ryan Crowther (50) tries to wrap up West Springfield quarterback Nate Stone (12) during the the Blue Devils’ game in West Springfield on Friday night. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton quarterback Ben Sledzieski throws against West Springfield at Clark Field in West Springfield on Friday. The Blue Devils prevailed 33-12. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton quarterback Ben Sledzieski throws against West Springfield at Clark Field in West Springfield on Friday. The Blue Devils prevailed 33-12. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton running back Mykal Noris pushes a West Springfield defender away during a football game Friday at Clark Field in West Springfield. Northampton won 33-12. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Ryan Crowther celebrates sacking West Springfield quarterback Nathan Stone on Friday at Clark Field in West Springfield. The Blue Devils prevailed 33-12. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton receiver Trey Rios celebrates scoring the Blue Devils first touchdown of a 33-12 win over West Springfield on Friday at Clark Field in West Springfield.  STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Marty Maslowski runs the ball against West Springfield Friday at Clark Field in West Springfield. The Blue Devils prevailed 33-12. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Mykal Norris reaches for the goal line against West Springfield on Friday at Clark Field in West Springfield. The Blue Devils prevailed 33-12. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton quarterback Ben Sledzieski runs out of bounds against West Springfield on Friday at Clark Field in West Springfield. The Blue Devils prevailed 33-12. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Mykal Norris celebrates forcing West Springfield to muff a punt Friday at Clark Field in West Springfield. The Blue Devils won 33-12. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Mykal Norris sprints up the sideline for an 82-yard touchdown against West Springfield on Friday at Clark Field in West Springfield. It was one of three touchdowns on the ground for him. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton coach Joe Kocot addresses the Blue Devils after their frist victory at West Springfield since 2012 on Friday. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Caleb Steineger, right, chases West Springfield quarterback Jonathan Gingeruha on Friday at Clark Field in West Springfield. The Blue Devils won 33-12. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton football players bow their heads together in prayer before the start of Friday’s game at West Springfield. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Trey Rios secures one of his four interceptions agianst West Springfield on Friday at Clark Field in West Springfield. He has six interceptions in the last two games. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 9/30/2022 11:30:52 PM
Modified: 9/30/2022 11:26:39 PM

WEST SPRINGFIELD – Mykal Norris puffed his inhaler and exhaled.

West Springfield gave the Northampton running back too much room to run. He had to catch his breath. Norris ripped off two 70-plus-yard runs in the second half, as the Blue Devils defeated the Terriers 33-12 in Suburban League South action on Friday. It was their first win in West Springfield since the 2012 season opener.

Norris finished with nine carries for 162 yards and three touchdowns. All of the junior’s production came in the second half after Northampton shifted from its spread offense into the full house, power run scheme – coach Joe Kocot’s calling card.

“I’ve played full house all seven years of football. It’s been my thing,” Norris said. “It helps me fly to the ball and get outside.”

His first score covered 82 yards up the right sideline after a pitch in the second half. No Terrier could dream of touching him, let alone tackling him on the run.

“Once you get outside, nobody’s catching Mykal Norris,” Northampton senior Trey Rios said.

Rios set up all of Norris’ second-half touchdowns with interceptions. He intercepted four passes all after halftime. That makes six picks in his past two games following his two picks last week against Holyoke.

“All week we were going over West Side’s offense, they love those outs. First quarter, I wasn’t getting wide enough. They were exploiting that,” Rios said. “In the second half, the coaches adjusted.”

His first interception ended West Springfield’s third quarter-opening drive. Northampton (3-1, 1-0) ultimately punted, but it negated a potential game-tying opportunity for the Terriers, which began the half trailing 13-6. He picked off West Springfield on its next drive, too, and Norris covered the 82 yards to the house with blazing speed two plays.

Rios made it de ja vu on the Terriers’ next possession with interception No. 3, and Norris took a handoff up the middle before bouncing outside and dusting the entire West Springfield secondary in a footrace to the left corner of the end zone. That made it 27-6 Northampton with 2.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

“I knew I was going to beat them, but I knew it was going to be close,” Norris said. 

He hopped over a diving tackle attempt at the goal line and chest-bumped his teammates in the end zone.

Rios grabbed one more interception to start the fourth quarter. He credited all of them to Northampton’s defensive line, which harassed West Springfield’s two quarterbacks all night.

“We have two of the best in Western Mass.,” Rios said. “They’re getting pressure all day and it just frees me up to use my speed and my hands.”

His hands also caught passes from Northampton quarterback Ben Sledzieski. They connected on a 1-yard play-action score to put the Blue Devils up 7-6 with 2:15 left in the first. That gave the Blue Devils the lead for good and started a run of 33 unanswered Northampton points.

“Once we scored, I feel like we flipped it around, and everyone wanted it more,” Norris said. “We played a great game.”

West Springfield initially took the lead on a 22-yard Donald Kuloba touchdown run to cap its first possession just 3:13 in. The Terriers offense bogged down with penalties after that, and Northampton’s defense adjusted.

“They were running over us, and we weren’t tackling well,” Rios said.

The Blue Devils kept the Terriers off the board for the next 36:54 until Evan Villalongo ran in a nine-yard score.

Northampton has won all three of the games it has played by at least three scores and is beating its opponents by an average of 38 points per game. The Blue Devils had to forfeit against Westfield two weeks ago due to COVID-19 issues, but no one has stopped them on the field so far. Three of their next four games are at home, but they face a daunting slate that includes archrival Amherst next week in Northampton then a trip to East Longmeadow before home games against perennial powers Wahconah and Agawam.

“Coming here and beating one of the top teams in Western Mass., it feels good,” Rios said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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