Norton enters the 2019 football season looking to improve upon last season's 8-2 record.
But the Panthers have loftier goals than just that. They have their sights set on an undefeated regular season, winning an outright Portage Trail Conference Metro Division title and advancing in the Division III playoffs.
And each goal seems to be attainable with a roster that features talented players, including senior Tyler Scott, a 5-11, 175-pound multi-sport athlete who has committed to play football at the University of Cincinnati.
Scott can impact a game with his speed and quickness as a running back, slot receiver, wide receiver, quarterback, cornerback, safety and return man.
“I am really proud of Tyler,” Norton senior left tackle and defensive end Tim Jervis said. “Ever since we were little, we all knew he would do something great, but we didn’t know exactly what. Seeing him do something like this is really awesome. It is fun to watch him grow, and we are all really proud of him.”
Scott scored 27 touchdowns and had one two-point conversion as a junior in 2018 when Norton shared the PTC Metro title with Woodridge and Ravenna.
He also ran 243 times for 1,512 yards and 23 touchdowns, caught 11 passes for 165 yards and one touchdown and returned three kickoffs for touchdowns of 91, 93 and 99½ yards.
Norton coach Kevin Pollock described Scott as “a great person” and “an athlete.”
“I always think of us as a small school,” Pollock said. “We are not a small school, but the way we play and the type of numbers of athletes that we have at our school, a kid like that is extremely rare for a school like our size and our demographic. Just having him on the roster is unbelievable. When Tyler has the ball, every play has a possibility to be a touchdown. If he is involved with the play, we can score on defense, we can score on offense and we can score on every special teams play when he has the ball.
“A guy like that, you are either taking a whole week as a defense to prepare for him, or you are changing your whole scheme or whatever you have to do, but he makes guys think about him every single play. That is a huge impact in terms of, one, a weapon that we have and, two, what it does for the rest of our offense when we are not using him.”
Scott, 17, said Cincinnati recruited him as an athlete. He also received scholarship offers from Nebraska, Indiana, Michigan State, Rutgers, Iowa State, Syracuse, Toledo, Ball State and the University of Akron.
Scott has a 3.14 cumulative GPA, and has earned three letters in football, three letters in basketball and two letters in track and field as a sprinter. He started competing in flag football as a 5-year-old in Akron, and then transitioned to tackle football a few years later after his family moved to Norton.
“I like how football is a mind game and a physical game at the same time,” Scott said. “You never know what the defense is going to run and what the offense is going to do. I think the whole mindset of the game, where it is a physical and a mental game, is what really attracted me.”
Scott said football is his favorite sport “with how all the puzzle pieces have to fit together.”
Senior Drayden Patterson and junior Nate Merril will also line up in the backfield with Scott. Patterson and Merril also contribute as linebackers on defense.
“Tyler has been a great leader for us,” Patterson said. “He is a role model for everyone and everyone looks up to him. Everyone wants to be like Tyler. Everyone is excited for him and ready to watch him on Saturdays next year.”
Scott, Jervis, Patterson and Brady Postek are Norton’s captains.
“Drayden is awesome because last year he was a special team guy only, and a JV junior,” Pollock said. “Every once in awhile you get one of those guys where the guys in front of him, which was the case last year, are studs and they were not able to break [into] the lineup, or they need one more year to season.
“Drayden could have been a varsity football player at most places, but the guys in front of him [Kaleb Kiss, Blake Jones and Scott] were animals, plain and simple. This year, he has been awesome stepping up.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the #ABJVarsity high school blog at www.ohio.com/sports/high-school. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.