August 14, 2007


CHS, Homer gridders get going

Trojans preach tradition


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Lineman Chris Crossway works out with his teammates during the first day of practice at Homer Central on Monday.  Teams throughout the state began preseason drills.

Staff Writer
The 2007 football season at Homer Central will be a special one.
While Gary Podsiedlik begins his 18th season as head coach, the Trojans begin their 60th season of football. In this tradition rich program, there have only been four other head coaches preceding Podsiedlik. Combined, the five have posted 270 wins, with 10 league championships, three sectional championships and one state championship.
“We are very aware, and proud, that this is the 60th season of football at Homer,” Podseidlik said. “We have a special Blue Pride t-shirt for the players and coaches only. The front has Homer Trojans on the front with 2007 on the helmet. The back simply has four lines. Power, Pride, Tradition are each on their own line, followed by 60 years strong on the fourth line. There will be a t-shirt available to the public, but the front will be different. This particular shirt is special for the players who reached the minimum off-season credits goal. There have been 59 players who already reached that goal. That is the most ever in school history.
“I told the coaches that those lines on the shirt could be the m.o. for this team,” Podseidlik added. “We are going to preach tradition. These kids have earned the right to continue to tradition here. We may be a power team this season. We will need to be disciplined, but a nastier team in terms of defense earlier than we have in the past. We have to earn that tradition. We have to have the power on both offense and defense. If we do that, we will bring pride to our school and our community.”
Homer is coming off a 7-2 season in which the Trojans posted a second-place finish in Section 3 Class B West Division play after a 5-1 league record. Coach Podsiedlik had 17 seniors graduate from that 2006 team, but 13 new senior players are back, plus 14 juniors, 22 sophomores and 30 freshman that hit the George W. Butts Field carpet for the first day of double sessions Monday. That is close to 80 high school players. Factor in close to 60-some junior high players and the football numbers swell to 140, the biggest number of players in a number of years.
“We have a lot of experience and leadership coming back with these seniors,” Podseidlik said. “All those kids have been through the wringer, so to speak. There is a good core returning. They have already shown that leadership in the weight room during the off-season. Most all the seniors went to camp. There were special circumstances, really special honors that you cannot pass up, kept some away from camp, but that was all right. The seniors have sent the messages that they are ready to step up and they have the dedication to make this season successful. The juniors coming up had a successful JV season.
“We are setting the goals high this season,” Podseidlik added. “Of course, our first goal will always to respect that next opponent. I want this team to win the league championship and I want this team to win the league sportsmanship award as well. I really think that you can be a physical, dominant team on the field and also be a class act as well. That is my challenge to my assistant coaches and my players. I want to prove that you can be a little nasty on the field and a gentleman afterwards.”
The other big experience factor Coach Podsiedlik enjoys is his veteran coaching staff. Returning again to the varsity assistant ranks are Tom Cottrell, Jim Whidden, Jim Luchsinger and David Podsiedlik with volunteer help from Pat Quinn and Joey Eells. Troy Humphrey is back as JV head coach with assistants Geoff Sorenson and Derrick Hartnett returning as well. Brian Hart will be a JV volunteer assistant during the pre-season. The Junior High staff will again feature Mark Ferrito, Mark Bertram, John McGrath and Tyler Zysk.
As for the league, Westhill is the defending Section 3 B West champion and the first opponent on the 2007 schedule. Solvay, Marcellus, Phoenix and Skaneateles are going to be tough again and Jordan-Elbridge is back in the B West as well. There is a new addition to the division this year as the combined LaFayette/Fabius-Pompey team will become the eighth member for this season. That means every regular season game is important and has meaning in the overall sectional picture as well.
“Every game is vital to your playoff status,” Podseidlik said. “We will miss that game with Cortland, because of what it means to both communities, but there was no way Section 3 could work it into the regular season schedule with us having to play all seven division opponents. I really like every game being a conference game. When you look back at our history, the Solvay-Homer game has many times determined the division champion. That is a rivalry game to many people. Westhill and Homer is becoming a good rivalry.
“A lot of people are saying Marcellus is much stronger,” Podseidlik added. “Skaneateles was a much better team as the 2006 season went along and they just missed making the players. Phoenix has some very talented players returning. This is high school football. This will be a very interesting season.”
Two-a-day sessions will continue through Friday before the first day of contact Saturday that will feature a single 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. session. Double sessions will continue next Monday through Thursday. Next Tuesday, Aug. 22, will also feature the annual Watermelon Bowl. JVs will compete from 5-6 p.m. with the varsity team taking the field from 6-7 p.m. The public is welcome to watch the Watermelon Bowl.
After a single session Aug. 24, the Trojans will host Solvay, Phoenix, Onondaga and Watkins Glen for a multi-team scrimmage at Butts Fields from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Coach Podsiedlik is still looking to add a sixth, and maybe, seventh team to the mix.
The final week of practice begins Aug. 27 and will lead up to the season opener Aug. 31 when Homer entertain Westhill at 7 p.m. The kickoff dinner for players and family will take place Aug. 30 after practice ends at 5:30 p.m.

   Aug. 31 WESTHILL (7)
   Sept. 7 at Solvay (6:30), 14 at Marcellus (7), 21 JORDAN-ELBRIDGE (7), 28 PHOENIX (7)
   Oct. 5 at Skaneateles (7), 13 at LaFayette/Fabius-Pompey (1), 19-20 Sections/Crossover (TBA), 27-27 Sectionals/Crossover (TBA)

Darrow era starts for Purple

Staff Writer

Quite a crowd was on hand to greet Dave Darrow Monday on his first day as Cortland High’s head football coach.
It wasn’t a passive crowd of fans, however, but a large group of football players who came ready to work. It was all no surprise to Darrow, who had been seeing most of their faces for a good part of the summer.
“The kids are working hard,” said Darrow, who replaces Jim Brown as the Purple Tiger grid boss this fall. “Everyone put in a good, solid three and a half hours, and did a nice job. We have 42 kids out for the varsity and 35 JV players. That’s what we’ve been working with all summer.
“We were in the weight room from 9 to 11 a.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. every day, and had skill sessions plus speed and agility work twice a day. We had 35 kids get in at least 22 lifting sessions in a period of less than six weeks. We’ve been getting ready for this (first day of practice) for two months. I’ve been here four or five hours a day all summer, and it’s been all of the coaches, not just me.”
That list of coaches includes Darrow’s assistants, Pete Reif and Tom Murphy; junior varsity head coach Eric Prior and assistant Paul Thomas plus modified head coach Brian Tasselmyer and his staff, which includes Joe DiSanto, Joe Nichols and Zach Darrow, the varsity head coach’s son.
Why the healthy numbers to start with?
“I think the kids want to play,” Dave Darrow said. “It’s a new chance, a new start. We want to play good football and are putting great effort into it. The players have put a lot of time in already this summer, and are working hard. It’s hard to look bad just wearing helmets; in a couple of weeks I’ll know better where we stand. But we’ve got some athletes, and should be able to get some things done.”
The agenda for the first day, with players wearing helmets only as per state regulations, included handing out play books, work on blocking and tackling, reviewing the rules, starting to work on the first set of plays, offensive and defensive work and strength and agility sessions, with water breaks included.
An intrasquad scrimmage just prior to the Purple Tigers’ first action against another squad — a scrimmage at Watertown starting at noon on Aug. 25 — will be a highlight of the preseason.
“Playing so soon, we can’t afford to wear the players out too bad,” Darrow said. “They’re in great shape after working all summer. Now we’ll put our own system in. Everything will be a little different.”
It’s all in preparation for the season-opener Aug. 31, when Cortland visits Chittenango in a 7 p.m. start. It will be the earliest start in Section 3 history, and the Purple Tigers will be looking to improve upon a 2006 season that saw them go 0-5 in the Class A American Division and 1-8 overall. A total of 23 of the 31 players on the final roster last fall were underclassmen.
The home opener is at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7 against Mexico.
The Class A American will add one new member this fall, as Fowler returns after spending a season at the Class AA level. Oswego is once again an unofficial member, opting to play down from Class AA and ineligible for the league championship and the playoffs. Also in the league are defending sectional champion East Syracuse-Minoa, Chittenango, Fulton, Jamesville-DeWitt and Mexico.
“The way I look at it, everyone is better than we are going in,” Darrow said. “We’re the weakest team in the league; we have to improve 100 percent to be in every game. Everyone else seems solid, it’s a tough league. But the kids have heart, and we’ll be prepared.”
While the scrimmage against Watertown means a long road trip to get things started, Darrow noted that “They have field turf just like Chittenango, so it’s probably not the worst thing in the world.” Cortland scored its only 2006 win over the visiting Cyclones, 21-7 in a crossover contest.
Chittenango, the Purple Tigers’ opening-game opponent, beat Cortland 48-6 last season and had 19 underclassmen on its 32-player roster. “We can compete with them, but we’ll have to play,” Darrow said. Ironically, Chittenango was also the site of Brown’s last game as the CHS head man, a season-ending 27-24 overtime crossover loss to Oneida Oct. 27. Darrow said he hasn’t thought about that. “We play wherever we play,” he said when asked about it.
In something of an odd twist, the Purple Tigers will not meet Oswego this season, instead traveling to West Winfield to go against Class C Mount Markham Sept. 28.
“We should be playing Oswego,” Darrow said. “I’ve been watching Mt. Markham on film, and they can play. They’re better than Oswego.”

   Aug. 31 at Chittenango (7)
   Sept. 7 MEXICO (7), 14 at Fulton (6:30), 21 EAST SYRACUSE-MINOA (7), 28 *at Mt. Markham (7)
   Oct. 5 at Jamesville-DeWitt (6:30), 12 FOWLER (7), 19-20 Sectionals/Crossover (TBA), 26-27 Sectionals/Crossover (TBA)
   * Non-League game.



Central City evens up semifinal series

Fast Pitch Playoffs

Both Cortland Fast Pitch Softball League semifinal playoff series will be decided Wednesday night after Central City Bar & Grill shaded Amelia’s 8-7 and King Sub was awarded a forfeit over The Tavern Monday.
Both best-of-three series are now tied at a game apiece, with Wednesday’s winners advancing to the championship series starting next Monday. Amelia’s and Central City meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, while King Sub and The Tavern collide at 8:15 p.m.
Central City Bar & Grill 8, Amelia’s Ristorante 7: Central City, the fourth-place team during the regular season, moved to a 7-0 lead after three innings and never looked back, evening things up after a 13-3 loss to the regular-season champs last Wednesday.
Derrick Hartnett went 2-for-3 and drove in a run for the winners, while Mike Lowie and Seth McMahon both went 2-for-4 — Lowie slugging a solo home run.
Abe Johnson went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs for Amelia’s, while Josh Wood (double) and Sean Caughey (two doubles) both went 2-for-4.
Josh Zach got the mound victory while his uncle, Denny Zach, took the loss.
IN SLOW PITCH, the lone championship still there for the taking gets underway this evening at Dexter Park. In a best-of-three B Division match-up, NAPA takes on Red Jug Pub in the series opener that starts at 6:30 p.m.


Bulldogs show early bite beating Owego

Senior Softball

Scoring early, and often, helped Cortland Bulldogs defeat Dick’s Garage of Owego by a 14-9 score in Central New York Senior Softball League action Monday.
The Bulldogs jumped to a 7-0 lead thanks to scoring five runs in the bottom of the second inning at Meldrim Field. Visiting Owego answered with four runs in the top of the third, but the Bulldogs countered with two runs in the bottom of the inning and two more runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Owego made one last comeback bid with five runs in the top of the fifth to make the score 11-9, but Cortland sealed the win with three runs in their half of the sixth inning.
Mike Dexter and Steve Hadzicki each went 3-for-4 with one triple with Dave Barber also adding a 3-for-4 effort.
Gary Fairlee, Tom Church, Carl Pitcher and Brown each posted 3-for-4 efforts for Owego.
Cortland will return to action Monday when the Bulldogs travel to Hopkins Field in Syracuse for a doubleheader against Pat’s Pub.



Celtic Run on Saturday next Fidelis Series race

The Celtic Run, the third race in the Fidelis 6-Pack Race Series, will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The race includes both a 5K and a one-mile fun run, and is a prediction race, with participants predicting their 5K time upon registration. A fee will be involved in registration, with the first 75 registrants receiving a race T-shirt. Those interested can call the Cortland County YMCA at 756-2893 with questions or to register. Registration forms are also available online at or
The YMCA and the Cortland Regional Sports Council host the series, in collaboration with the Kim Ryan Leonard Scholarship Fund, the Cortland Paid Fire Fighters and the Salvation Army.
The final three races in the series are the Pumpkin Run on Oct. 6, the Leaf Peeper on Oct. 21 and the Turkey Trot on Nov. 22 (Thanksgiving Day). Points will be awarded for participation and finish order in each series race, with prizes and awards going to the top point-getters.