August 15, 2006
Trojans, Purple Tigers get started
Homer out to defend ‘B’ crown
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Homer Central football head coach Gary Podsiedlik wraps up the “Smash and Control” defensive drills during their first day of practice Monday. Homer’s season starts Sept. 1 when Skaneateles visits.
The moans of groans have begun again as another high school football season is underway after the first official of practice is in the books.
At Homer Central, the 2006 pre-season is just a little bit different for the 66 student-athletes who showed up. The Trojans enter the new season as defending Section 3 Class B champions.
For Gary Podsiedlik, who begins his 17th season directing the Trojans, the defending champion title is new to him as the head coach. It is not entirely new, as he was an assistant coach for the talented 1985 and 1986 teams that also claimed Section 3 championships.
“It was certainly easier to stir-up some coaching interest, voluntarily,” Podsiedlik chuckled of last year’s success. “For me, personally, it does not feel any different. I have been going crazy as I always do at the beginning of the season.
“We know that we don’t have the talent load that we have had in the past, but we have a bunch of workers. Because of that, we do have some high expectations for the season.”
The message was simple for the 14 seniors, 20 juniors, 14 sophomores and 18 freshmen that will make up the 2006 varsity and junior varsity football teams.
“We told the guys that we were not here to put together a pretty good squad,” Podsiedlik said. “We have a program that, if we work hard, we can beat teams that are physically better than us. Officially, it starts_today.”
Monday was the first of six scheduled double sessions planned over the next two weeks as the Trojans point towards their Aug. 26 scrimmage on the George W. Butts Field carpet and the season opener Sept. 1 when Skaneateles comes to town for the 7 p.m. kickoff.
“We set the tone with special teams right off the bat today,” Podsiedlik said of the morning session. “We had a defensive introduction segment and then, there was an awesome SPASE session. It stands for Speed, Power, Agility, Strength and Endurance. There are five different stations that each player goes through for the 30-minute SPASE session. That is our core conditioning at this time.”
Homer gridders will have double sessions (8:30-11:30 a.m., 2:30-5 p.m.) today and Thursday this week with single sessions Wednesday (9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) and Friday (1-4:30 p.m.) before the first day on contact Saturday (9 a.m.-1 p.m.). The varsity and JV teams will spend the first week working together before beginning to focus on their own specific goals in week Two.
Week Two will have double sessions on Monday (Aug. 21), Wednesday and Thursday. On Aug. 22 there will be a single session from 10 a.m. until noon with the Watermelon Bowl scheduled for that evening. This is the first chance for parents to check out the Trojans and all are invited. The JV will take the field from 5-6 p.m. with the varsity on the field for the full-field scrimmage from 6-7 p.m.
On Aug. 25 there will be a single 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. session before the Aug. 26 scrimmage from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Joining the Trojans for the Butts Field scrimmage will be Marcellus, Solvay, Phoenix, Onondaga and Bishop Ludden. Coach Podsiedlik is also trying to get line-up a couple of other schools as some have decided to withdraw from the scrimmage.
The schedule for the final week_of pre-season practice, leading up_to the Skaneateles game is still up_in the air. The kickoff dinner has been scheduled for Aug. 30 from 6-7:30 p.m.
There will be many familiar faces on the sidelines at all the levels for the 2006 season.
Joining Podsiedlik in 2006 are returning assistants Tom Cottrell, Jim Luchsinger and Jim Whidden with Troy Humphrey, Geoff Sorenson and Brian Hart back with the JV squad. Mark Ferrito and Mark Burtram are the Junior High coaches.
David Podsiedlik is volunteering his time to help at the varsity level again in 2006 while newcomer Joey Eells joins the varsity staff as a volunteer assistant. Eells’ brother, Dana, was a volunteer assistant a few seasons ago. Tyler Zysk and John McGrath will be volunteer coaches at the junior high level in 2006.
While the coaching staff as familiarity, there will be a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball.
“The 66 kids that are here for day one and totally committed to this program,” Podsiedlik said. “That gives us good, quality numbers. I think we will have strength in numbers on the offensive line. We have a lot of guys that are really hungry to step up. There are some mystery spots in the backfield, so we will see what happens.”
The defensive side of the ball is the same way, so Coach Podsiedlik did not give many hints as to potential starters on either side. The competition should be great and that should all lend to some solid starters being named at the appropriate time with a some very capable players waiting to take their job away.
There is also a new two-division alignment in Class B with Phoenix and Jordan-Ebridge joining Homer, Marcellus, Solvay, Skaneateles and Westhill in the West Division.
“With only one non-league game (Cortland), it will be a bit easier to plan our scouting. Our game preparation won’t change. Every game will be important and we will need to get the guys ready to do their best each time they step on the field. It will be a very competitive division and I really think that we will be right in the middle of the battle again this season,” said Podsiedlik.
Extra work in summer helps CHS
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High football coach Jim Brown runs passing drill during the first day of practice Monday.The Purple Tigers open the season on Sept. 1, hosting Jamesville-DeWitt.
The only number the Cortland High football coaching staff had to deal with as practice began Monday afternoon was how many players attended. The rest — wins, losses, other statistics — comes later.
So far, so good.
“We had 60 kids between the varsity and junior varsity, a good turnout that will be split pretty evenly, and they were very enthusiastic,” said Jim Brown, now in his ninth season as head coach of the Purple Tigers. “It was nice to get started. You could tell a lot of kids spent time working hard during the summer; it really shows. Some of them, in fact the majority, had a little head start. I didn’t see anybody really far behind with their conditioning. It was a really good summer.”
Included in the time since school ended in June were daily weight sessions for both junior high- and high school-age players. Brown gives credit there to defensive coordinator Pete Reif — who again this season joins Brown and Joe Nicholas on the varsity staff.
In addition, Brown noted that some varsity and JV players got_together on four Sunday nights last month and this month for skill_sessions.
In analyzing the continuously strong numbers that the football program at CHS draws, Brown said: “I don’t know that it’s any one thing. Kids start at an early age because of the strong youth program here. We also have good junior high coaches, and good numbers in that program. It’s a lot of different things, but I’m real happy with the numbers. We have pretty good depth, though some positions are better than others; at some positions we don’t have experienced backups.”
Eric Prior replaces Fred Cutia as head JV coach this season, with Paul Thomas returning from last season to join him. The junior high coaches Brown alluded to, Brian Tasselmyer and Joe DiSanto will return, joined by Dave Darrow this fall.
Monday’s 3:15-8 p.m. session, the first of three with helmets and no pads, was a day for specialized drills, Brown said. “We spent a lot of time on blocking and tackling — key areas, the fundamentals — and then broke up into individual drills by position, offensively and defensively.
“Then we worked on teamwork, putting together what we did in drills, running plays. We also tried to tie in some special teams work. We try to get a feel of who can play where. We already know about some of the older kids, but with some of the younger ones it will take a few days.”
After three days in just helmets in accordance with Section 3 and state rules, the Purple Tigers will don full pads for the first time Thursday and will be able to hit blocking sleds and hand-held pads that day and Friday. Saturday will the first day of full contact, and on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week — Brown wasn’t sure which day — an intra-squad scrimmage will take place, with refreshments (most likely watermelon) for the players afterwards.
Last year’s Cortland squad missed the Section 3 Class A playoffs, finishing 1-4 in the A American Division and 4-5 overall, including non-league wins over Mexico and Camden to finish the season. By Brown’s estimate, a total of 15 lettermen, including two or three offensive starters and four from the defense, are back. He noted the 2005 season won’t serve as any kind of a rallying point or incentive this time around.
“Each team is different. The majority of your kids weren’t there last year, unless you’re very fortunate,” the Purple Tiger head man said. “We have a good core of kids back, but we take each season as it comes. We want to get to the playoffs and, after that, want a home playoff game.”
The road through the league will be a little different this season, as Mexico makes the move from Class B up to Class A and Oswego comes down from Class AA as a hardship program, unable to win the league or compete in the A playoffs. Gone is Fowler, which moved up the Class AA for this fall.
One constant is the fact that Section 3, for the third season in a row, has scheduled Cortland to go against Camden in its pre-season scrimmage. This year, however, the Purple Tigers will be at home, as the Blue Devils make the trip south for the 10 a.m. session on Aug. 26. It will mark the first time since 2002 that Brown’s squad will have hosted its pre-season tune-up.
“I like getting together with Camden; it’s a good program,” Brown said. “We also get to stay home for the opener against Jamesville-DeWitt (7 p.m. Sept. 1), and we have our sights set on that one. The kids like playing them; it’s always a fun game and they know all the kids because the two schools go against each other in every sport.”
The Red Rams have lost each of the last three games at Moiseichik Field in narrow fashion, including CHS’s only league win last season. While the Purple Tigers have a mix of veterans and newcomers, 29 of the 37 players on J-D’s roster last fall were underclassmen.
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Johnson milestone in Yankees win
NEW YORK (AP) — Moments after reaching yet another milestone, Randy Johnson waved to his family behind home plate and hugged catcher Jorge Posada.
Then the big lefty went right back to work.
After all, with the New York Yankees grinding their way through a tight pennant race, Johnson is more concerned about winning games than chasing records.
The Big Unit pitched seven strong innings Monday night and surpassed 4,500 strikeouts, and Alex Rodriguez hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly that sent New York to a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
“Things like this have happened before and I try not to get too caught up in it,” Johnson said. “It means I’ve been around a long time and I’ve struck out a lot of batters. That’s probably why my arm’s pretty tired.”
Derek Jeter hit an early two-run homer and Posada added a solo shot, helping the Yankees gain a four-game split against a longtime nemesis. They also extended their AL East lead to two games over Boston.
The 42-year-old Johnson outpitched John Lackey for his 276th win and became only the third major leaguer to reach 4,500 strikeouts, joining Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Roger Clemens (4,552).
“I thought his slider was outstanding,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “He looks like he’s got a little spring in his step. We just want to hold onto it as long as possible.”
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