Outside the Huddle is breaking down every area regional matchup scheduled for this Friday.
We continue in Class 3A as Brebeuf (10-2) heads north to visit Norwell (11-1).
1. NORWELL’S DOMINANCE
All due respect to Peru last week, which make the final score look respectable, no team in Sectional 27 was able to match Norwell.
Across three games, the Knights outscored their opponents 107-13 and captured their first postseason trophy of any kind since 2014.
But now, it gets real. Brebeuf’s only two losses came to Cathedral and Roncalli, two teams expected to capture state crowns in 5A and 4A, respectively.
For Norwell, Friday’s challenge is its biggest of the year by a significant margin.
2. NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN
In Week 1 of the 2003 and 2004 seasons, Brebeuf and Norwell faced off in a non-conference tilt, with each getting the better of the other once. It was the last time the two have played.
While those two matchups don’t mean a lot to this one, nor is it remembered by the majority of the players on each roster that weren’t even born yet, long-time fans of both Brebeuf and Norwell will remember the two solid showdowns they had to open a pair of campaigns in the mid-2000s.
3. KNOCKING OFF THE CHAMPS
A week ago, Brebeuf ousted defending Class 2A state champion Western Boone, which was bumped up to 3A this year due to success factor. It was a big win for the Braves, which earned them their first sectional championship since 2018.
Where is Brebeuf mentally after overcoming WeBo and now hitting the road for a playoff game that, on paper, favors them by a considerable margin? Could Norwell catch the Braves overlooking them?
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
LLEYTON BAILEY, NORWELL
The junior quarterback isn’t asked to sling it all over the field for the Knights, but he definitely has the ability to make some big plays vertically.
Take last week when he hit on six of seven attempts for a pair of touchdowns that were the first scores of the game, followed up by a short run by Bailey for a score.
The Norwell QB will need to make some big plays on his home field on Friday.
NOLAN BUCKMAN, BREBEUF
Across the field, Buckman holds down QB duties for the Braves, and he is sensational. He enters this week averaging over 200 yards passing per contest with 33 touchdowns.
The junior is srong and has great downfield vision. He spreads the ball around to a multitude of receivers and can make all the throws.
But he has thrown 10 INTs and completes only 56 percent of his passes, which keeps the door open for some big plays by the Norwell defense against the Brebeuf passing attack.
LUKE GRAFT, NORWELL
I mean, come on.
Not only is he the centerpiece of the Norwell offense at running back, he is also a strong defensive player as well.
Brebeuf will need to account for Graft at all times on both sides of the ball.
JOE STRICKLAND, BREBEUF
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Strickland is hard to miss on the football field. He can move inside and out along the defensive front and can wreck havoc in a variety of ways, both in the offensive backfield and in pursuit.
The four-star prospect is headed to Purdue after he graduates to play for the Boilermakers, picking them over the likes of Penn State and Stanford, among others.
Norwell is going to have its hands full with Strickland.
KEY TO VICTORY – BREBEUF
BOTTLE UP GRAFT
Graft has torn up opposing defenses all season long, although Peru was able to limit him to just 67 yards rushing last week.
But Graft is where it starts for the Knights offensively/ If the Braves are able to take Graft and the rushing attack away, it puts the onus on Bailey to beat the third-ranked team in the state that took down No. 1 in sectional play. That’s a tough assignment.
KEY TO VICTORY – NORWELL
DON’T BE INTIMIDATED
Brebeuf is one of the top teams in the state. It has a balanced offense, a stout defense and some high-powered athletes headed to the next level.
But Norwell needs to approach this one as if it was another NE8 contest. It cannot be affected by who the opponent is and instead just execute the game plan and see what happens. If Norwell is able to keep calm, focus on the job at hand and treat every snap as its own individual thing, it has a chance to pull off an upset.
Coming Thursday when Blitz makes his regional picks.