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Falcons’ Norris finished with big hits and big plays
Fact: Tyler “Chuck” Norris doesn’t play defense. Tyler “Chuck” Norris is defense. And South Whidbey High School’s opponents from the Cascade Conference noticed.
A senior, Norris played for his team, not the statistics. Still, he found his way to the Cascade Conference second-team defense.
“It feels good,” said Norris of his postseason award. “I’m happy with the outcome of the season. I wish I could’ve got back on the first team [defense] like last year.”
Sports fans may have noticed some similarities to last season.
Before a game, Norris went through his pregame rituals. He wore the same clothing for every game. He spat his cleats (which means taping the entire outside of the shoe). Finally he went through the “visualization of the kill,” in which Norris imagined coming off the line breaking through a block and tackling the quarterback.
As one of South Whidbey’s defensive ends, Norris led the Cascade Conference with 12 sacks last season, which earned him a spot on the all-conference first team defense. Defenses adapted to block Norris this season and looked to keep him out of the backfield, but that wasn’t enough, and Norris again made all-conference for defense.
South Whidbey head coach Andy Davis moved Norris from a linebacker to defensive end last season and watched Norris disrupt plays in the backfield.
“I think he’s better than second team,” Davis said about Norris. “He’s quick and he’s tenacious. He works as hard as he can every single play, and that’s a good quality.”
At 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 205 pounds, Norris had a ripe combination of size and speed for his position. Both Norris and Davis credited Norris’ quick acceleration for his ability to make tackles.
“Once you learn to go full speed, good things are going to happen,” Norris said.
Falcon teammate Avery Buechner, the Falcons’ quarterback and all-conference linebacker, appreciated Norris’ humor and work ethic.
“Tyler’s just a phenomenal athlete and a phenomenal person,” Buechner said. “He put in so much effort this year.”
“He deserved second team or better.”
Buechner remembered the game against Cedarcrest High School and rushing the punter. Buechner went to block the punt, but was leveled by the blocker. Norris walked to him, helped him off the turf and said to Buechner, “Wow, you just got wrecked.”
“It was the look on his face. We were still having a good time, even though we were down a couple points,” Buechner recalled.
During the homecoming game against Sultan High School, Norris recalled a personal foul for a late hit on the quarterback just before halftime. As he came off the field he expected a scolding from the coaching staff. But instead of a reprimand, he was praised for his aggressive pass rushing.
“That kind of fueled my fire for the game,” Norris said.
The homecoming ceremony then featured Norris, South Whidbey High School Associated Student Body president for two years, on the homecoming court. As ASB president, Norris hopes he leaves a legacy of creating a fun environment at the school.
“I take pride in leading people here at the high school,” Norris said.
Norris describes himself as an attentive but goofy student who enjoys English and Spanish classes. He said he likes to write (in English) and sing (in Spanish), particularly a song called “Tengo la camisa negra.”
Davis and his coaching staff used Norris as a defensive playmaker. His ability to alter an offense by getting to the quarterback or tackling a running back for a loss opened defensive options. Norris ran down receivers, tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks.
Whoever had the ball, Norris found his way to them.
“We put him in places we thought the ball was going,” Davis said. “At the same time, offenses are going to be cognizant of where he’s at. He’s the one guy on the team where offenses were going to have to scheme against him.”
Buechner also noticed Norris’ speed as one of the talents that made him a top-tier defensive end.
“He’s so fast he just explodes off the ball and comes off [the line] well,” Buechner said.
Mason Shoudy, Norris’ teammate and fellow defensive end, will step into the role Norris filled the past two seasons. Shoudy, a junior, made the honorable mention all conference list as a defensive end.
Davis has now put the burden on the entire team, telling them that if they commit to the weight room and put in the effort between now and next season, he expects a few of his athletes to step up.
Still, losing a two-time all-conference player and team captain presents a challenge for Davis.
“He’s just a great player and a great teammate,” Davis said of Norris. “He’s kind of an inspiration to the young guys. He was a vocal leader, and that’s something we needed this year.”