It’s a matter of math for the Norwell football team.
With depth always an issue for the Class 4A Knights, injuries not only add up but they multiply as well.
The program relies on two-way starters, and when players such as senior quarterback/linebacker Piercen Harnish, senior offensive and defensive lineman Andrew Oakes and junior running back/defensive back Brody Myers miss playing time, their replacements are needed on offense and defense.
“When you lose three guys, you lose six starters,” Norwell coach Jeff Miller said. “It’s not an excuse. You have to have guys step up when they get in there, but it hurts. But long term, … we are going to have guys in Weeks 8, 9 and 10 who got game experience early. It could pay off for us in the long run. I have never had this many (starters) go out this early. … With a school our size, you don’t have a lot of depth.”
And sometimes it’s a matter of subtraction.
When Harnish went out last week in a 31-21 loss to Heritage, fellow senior Reggie Hayes had to move over from his spot as No. 1 receiver to quarterback to replace Harnish.
It made the Knights less dangerous on offense, which was already without Myers, as well as another running back.
“Heritage was like, ‘There is no main threat at receiver, so we will put an extra guy in the box,’ and we were missing two running backs, and it kind of snowballed on us,” Miller said. “We were left there with not too many bullets to fire at Heritage, and they are a good team. We played well when we had our 1s in there, but when we had to go to backups they were better than us.”
Harnish, in particular, is missed because he is the team’s leader on offense and defense.
A chest bruise took him out of the lineup, and Norwell watched as Heritage rallied for the Week 2 win.
Harnish, the brother of recently released Colts quarterback Chandler Harnish, has returned to practice and will be in the lineup tonight – with a new chest protector. His availability, though, will depend on different factors and situations.
“He is a lot more valuable to us on defense, but he is valuable to us on both sides of the ball so we will play him in bunches if he can,” Miller said. “A lot of times you don’t want to play your quarterback on defense, can’t risk injury. But at the next level, he will play some defense. He is more of a linebacker playing quarterback. He plays them both pretty well. Unfortunately, he is a big part of our offense, and we are not as good as our No. 2 quarterbacks are.”
Hayes, himself, dealt with a head injury that caused him to miss playing time in a Week 1 win over Leo. Oakes and two-way lineman Curtis Blackwell are still out of the lineup.
But Norwell (1-1) is expecting Harnish, Myers and senior running back/defensive back Jake Aschliman, among others, to return tonight against Carroll (2-0).
“We could be 0-2 easily, and we could be 2-0 very easily,” Miller said. “It doesn’t really matter. The NHC schedule starts this week, and we have a goal to win the NHC.”