NORWALK — On a brisk night at Whitney Field in Norwalk, it was the state’s top-ranked Division VII football team in Norwalk St. Paul that got off to an early start and never let up in cruising to a 52-13 victory over Wayne Trace Friday night in Division VII regional quarterfinal playoff action.

The Flyers totaled 359 yards of first half offense and scored 45 first half points to improve to 11-0 on the season and advance to regional semifinal action next Friday.

Norwalk St. Paul took the opening kickoff and drove 65 yards on the game’s first possession to get on the scoreboard quickly.

A 10-play drive, capped off by an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Lukasko to Thane Crabbs put the Flyers on top 7-0 at the 8:42 mark. After holding Wayne Trace to a 3-and-out, the Flyers scored quickly on their second possession. Crabbs scampered 58 yards for a 14-0 lead, ending a 3-play drive that put Norwalk St. Paul in complete control.

Following an exchange of turnovers, an interception by the Flyers’ Paul Pearce set up the St. Paul offense at the Wayne Trace 33 yard line. The Raider defense did keep the Flyers from picking up a first down but Norwalk St. Paul kicker Joey Catalano converted a 35-yard field goal with 1:10 on the clock to make it 17-0 Flyers.

“Obviously, it wasn’t the start we wanted,” said Raider coach Mike Speice. “They came out and converted a couple of third downs there on the first drive and those were big. But, they made plays tonight and that was the difference. Norwalk St. Paul is a good football team and it showed tonight.”

Quarter No. 2 didn’t get a whole lot better for Wayne Trace.

Crabbs added touchdown runs of 28 yards and one yard while catching scoring strikes of 28 and five yards as the Flyers broke the game open with 28 points in the second quarter. The Raiders did get on the scoreboard with 52 seconds left in the half when freshman signal caller Trevor Speice found Jake Kuhn for a 25-yard touchdown toss across the middle of the field.

“We were able to move the ball at times, but we just weren’t consistent enough,” Coach Speice said. “It was a fun season and one that I think this team showed a lot of positives. Hopefully, the underclassmen were able to learn a lot from these seniors and from tonight and we can take steps forward again next year.”

The Raiders picked up a 29-yard touchdown pass from Speice to Jake Kuhn at the 6:23 mark of the third quarter to score their final points of the season.

Crabbs, who finished with 138 yards over 11 tries on the ground in the contest, recorded 107 yards of it in the first half on nine carries. He also picked up seven receptions for 111 yards, all in the first two quarters. Norwalk St. Paul posted 225 yards overall on the ground. Lukasko finished the night 15 of 20 passing for 240 yards. Pearce picked up four receptions for 61 yards.

For Wayne Trace, Speice completed the contest 22 of 41 for 242 yards with a pair of touchdown passes. Jake Kuhn picked up six receptions for 103 yards with twin brother Josh adding six catches for 63 yards. Eli Sinn also had 42 receiving yards on five receptions.

Wayne Trace closed its season at 6-5 on the year, including its fourth appearance in the OHSAA playoffs.

The contest also brought to an end the career of a dozen Raider football players. Gabe Sinn, Josh Kuhn, Eli Sinn, Hunter Showalter, Jake Kuhn, Adam Stoller, Jaydon Edwards, Colton Hower, Quinton Stabler, Braxten Asher, Jordan Saylor and Tim Shepherd.

“This was a good group of seniors,” said Speice. “They were great leaders for us all season long. Both on and off the field, the seniors did a tremendous job this year. I am proud of the young men that they have developed into and wish them the best of luck in their other activities.”