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August 27, 2007

 

Cortland satisfied with test

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

WATERTOWN — New Cortland High football coach Dave Darrow got to watch his team against another squad for the first time Saturday afternoon when the Purple Tigers scrimmaged host Watertown.
He was fairly satisfied with the results in the team’s warm-up for Friday’s 7 p.m. season opener at Chittenango.
“We did all right. Watertown has some athletic kids and is a pretty good team,” Darrow said after each squad had scored a pair of touchdowns on the day. “We ran 10 plays on offense and 10 on defense with both the first and second teams, then did 30 to 45 minutes of down and distance work and some punting.
“We were surprised at the speed Watertown had, but we adjusted pretty well. We missed a couple of tackles. Everyone got to play a lot, and did okay. Probably two or three teams we play aren’t as solid as Watertown.”
The Purple Cyclones were winless in 2006, and in fact Cortland scored its only win in nine games last fall against them, 21-7 at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex in a late-season crossover.
“That’s kind of deceiving,” Darrow said. “We beat them last year, but they have most of their team back and brought a bunch of kids up from a good junior varsity team that beat Cortland last fall. I’ll be surprised if Chittenango has as many skill players as Watertown.”
The Purple Tigers went primarily with a ground offense Saturday, and Darrow noted that it was by design. “We ran off-tackle pretty well, swept and had some inside traps,” he said. “We didn’t do a lot of counters or trick plays. W played power football to see if we could block and give guys chances to work on their (blocking) assignments. Were young, with a lack of experience.
“We didn’t throw the ball much; we weren’t going to do that coming in. We wanted to work as much as possible on blocking, and we have a good passing package. We’re okay with that. We didn’t have any injuries, and it wasn’t too bad. We didn’t leave there shaking our heads.”
Individually, Darrow singled out the offensive efforts of tailbacks Brandon Fitzgerald (a junior) and Coty Cute (senior), and junior fullbacks Josh Morehouse and Dan Foster. “Our defense is pretty tough,” he said. “We have a lot of great athletes. (Junior) Garrett Wyatt did well at cornerback, and so did Fitzgerald, Morehouse and (junior) Ian Spafford at linebacker.
“Martin Stark (a junior) played well at nose and tackle, and (senior) Matt pitcher was solid at tight end and defensive tackle. Levi Walrath (also a senior) kicked an extra point, and had a 50-yard punt.”
Many teams in Section 3 participate in scrimmages involving more than two teams. Darrow acknowledged that: “It would have been good to see a different look or two, but it was okay. Lots of kids got to play and get good reps, and we can work with what we did today. We have to keep up on our fundamentals.
Chittenango plays on the same kind of field turf surface as Watertown and Darrow said that: “The kids ran well and were able to cut fine on it (in the scrimmage). The new field turf is good stuff.
“Now, all that remains before the regular season begins is the final preparations for Friday nights contest. We’ll look at the tape of our scrimmage to see the mistakes we made, and look at Chittenango’s tape as well, to see the things we need to work on,” Darrow said. “The kids are working hard, and want to play. They’re enthusiastic.”


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Trojans tune up for debut

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Write
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The final step in pre-season preparation took place Saturday at George W. Butts Field as Homer Central hosted Onondaga, Phoenix, Solvay and Watkins Glen in a five-way varsity football scrimmage.
Each team scrimmaged the other four with one team enjoying one break from the 40-minute rotations that featured each team taking turns on offside and defense. Homer played its Blue (first) team against Onondaga and Watkins Glen while the White (second) team) faced Section 3 Class B West opponents Phoenix and Solvay.
After a very hot day on the FieldTurf, Trojan head coach Gary Podsiedlik talked about how he thought his team looked like as they now set their sights on prepping for the season opener against visiting Westhill Friday night.
“We got all the looks we wanted,” Podseidlik said. “Everyone got a chance to play. Everyone on the first and second teams got very fair looks against quality, well-coached teams. We were able to split it right down the middle. It was awesome.
“It was also a good conditioning day, because of the heat.” Podseidlik added. “It had to 90 degrees, which meant the turf was an additional 10 to 15 degrees warmer. We were not in quite as good shape as we thought we were, so we will have to improve on that, but, what we did learn was when we are tired, we slip and make mistakes. That was something the players had to learn for themselves. They did that today and learned from it. I can promise you that we will be better in every way Friday night.”
Saturday was the kind of day that the coaches could begin to get a read on what this 2007 Trojan team will be like.
“I know we will play good football,” Podseidlik said. “How good are we going to be? How many games will we win? Who knows! I have two goals this season. The first is to respect the next opponent so much that if we take care of that opponent, it is another step closer to a league championship. The second is what we talked about that first day of practice. I want us to win the sportmanship award. As I said before, you can be a physical, nasty-dog athlete and still be a class act. The kids are putting that into their goals package and I see are guys buying into that and believing that. The guys are really learning to trust each other. The guys are not stubborn in a negative way. I hope this character that they are showing in practice does carry over into our games.”
What were the highlights and lowlights for the day?
“We moved to the ball well today,” Podseidlik said. “We are not going to swarm to the ball. We told the guys to do their job and when you recognize what is happening at the line of scrimmage, especially when a pass is released, we want 11 linebackers on that field. Linebackers are downhill, train-wreck people. We had many bright moments where there were seven or eight players around the ball. There are buying into a concept on defense and that was good to see. We forced several turnovers. There was good reaction to the ball in the secondary.
“On offense,” Podseidlik continued. “We had great execution with our line blocking. Most of our run plays broke down, in my opinion and I need to see the film, because our backs were too anxious to run outside or run away from the hole. They did not have that patience of a Luke Siwula, Dustin Morris or Mark Brenchley. Our backs will learn to fit into the blocking scheme. Just as you get to that traffic around the line, that hole will open up and you will gain another eight or nine yards. That will come around as they learn to trust each other more. Parky (Mike Park) and the other guys are getting it. Park, (K.J.) Reese, (Jake) Smith, (Jay) Riley, (D.J.) Canfield and Aleks Glover all ran hard and that was good to see. The guys did not panic when they saw something new. They learned from it and they kept their composure. All our quarterbacks showed good presence of mind and decision-making. It was a good day overall.”
How will Coach Podsiedlik begin prepping for Westhill?
“We won’t have double sessions Monday or Tuesday,” Podseidlik said. “We will have long single sessions those two days with film and stuff like that. We will also work on sharpening our two-minute offense, plus work on kickoffs and returns. Everything else is in place. We could play Friday after our Monday practice because we could use our two-point package for the two-minute package because it is already in place and we have practiced it. Monday and Tuesday is all about sharpening, timing and conditioning. The remaining two days are for those final pre-game things that we will do every week. We also have our kickoff dinner for players and their families Thursday after practice at 5:30.”

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