Norwalk has a new coach, talented players on both sides of the ball, and a quarterback who seems to be mentioned as a player to watch by just about every opposing coach.
The Bears’ have also found an added source of strength in another arena: The baseball diamond.
When Norwalk and its first-year coach Ryan Mitchell won the CIAC Class LL championship in June, they not only gave the school it’s first title in that sport, they’ve made other teams think: Why not us?
“That motivates us a lot,” Norwalk quarterback Shawn Brown said. “The baseball team can do it and they were ranked low in the state at first and then they came up to No. 2 in the state, winning Class LL.
“We feel like we have the players to do what they did.”
Norwalk was 5-5 against a difficult schedule in 2019, but is looking to move up the ranks this year.
Pat Miller, the former offensive coordinator for Sheehan’s state championship team, has taken over as coach and he said his team is not lacking in enthusiasm. In fact, he had to calm things down a bit in the week leading up to Grip It and Rip It.
“They can’t wait; it’s all they talk about,” he said of the tournament. “Sometimes, I have to say ‘Ok, guys, we’re lifting right now. Let’s make sure we get our bench press in.’ We’ve got a competitive bunch and they’ve been talking about it and asking a lot of questions. So they’re excited.”
Brown said the Bears have also felt disrespected by the preseason rankings on MaxPreps, which had them listed at No. 72. That number has become a rallying cry.
“I feel like this season, we’ve got a lot to prove. Being ranked that low, we have the team and we want to prove that we can be Top 10 in the state and we can beat those teams that we need to beat.
“We have the coaching, we have the natural ability, and we have the talent, so it will be on us if we don’t do this.”