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If the 2016 edition of the Nordonia High School football team has a motto, it might be "Prepare with integrity."
Nordonia has endured an up-and-down season to this point. However, head coach Jeff Fox and the Knights have not changed their approach to continuous improvement, regardless of the circumstances or the opponent.
On Sept. 30, Nordonia battled Suburban League National Conference foe Brecksville-Broadview Heights. The visiting Bees stung the Knights by the score of 42-35.
"We had them on the run, but we made some mistakes in the first half," said Fox. "Brecksville has a lot of good athletes at the skill positions -- quarterback and wide receiver -- and they made some plays in the second half to get the lead."
Nordonia held leads of 7-0 and 14-7 in the first half. The score was tied 21-21 in the third period when Brecksville pulled ahead for good with another pair of touchdowns. The Bees scored 21 of their 42 points during the third quarter.
Nordonia continued to fight, as the Knights reached the end zone twice in the fourth stanza in their comeback bid. However, that bid fell short at the final gun.
"We had a productive night offensively," said Fox. "We always focus on finishing in the red zone and ball security. We gained a lot of yardage, but we didn't make enough plays to win."
Nordonia actually outgained Brecksville in a few statistical categories, including first downs (26 to 24) and total yards (558 to 462). The one area in which the Knights did not fare well, though, was in the turnover department. Nordonia committed four turnovers, while the Bees only had one.
Nordonia enjoyed tremendous success running the ball.
Senior Anthony Perrine led the way, rushing for 193 yards on 28 carries and scoring two touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Robby Levak carried the ball 14 times for 80 yards, also reaching the end zone twice.
In terms of passing the pigskin, Levak completed 15-of-31 attempts for 282 yards and a touchdown. He was also intercepted four times.
Junior Tye Evans was Nordonia's leading receiver, catching eight passes for 207 yards. One of his catches was a 74-yard touchdown reception.
Junior wide receiver Donny Wizniak nabbed four passes for 40 yards. Catching one pass apiece for the Knights were Perrine (14 yards), sophomore wide receiver Julius Jones (12 yards), and sophomore wide receiver Brendan O'Donnell (nine yards).
Defensively, junior cornerback Jarod Senk intercepted a pass and returned it 12 yards. In addition, senior placekicker Trey Crockett was 5-of-5 on his extra point attempts.
With the loss, Nordonia's overall record slipped to 2-4. The Knights are also 0-3 in the National Conference.
On Oct. 6, Nordonia will travel to conference counterpart Cuyahoga Falls at 7 p.m.
"We must prepare as though this is a playoff game," said Fox. "We have to find a way to get better. We haven't played to our potential yet."