August 30, 2007


New look for Purple Tigers


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
New Cortland High football coach Dave Darrow runs passing drills with the Purple Tiger offense Tuesday.  The Purple Tigers open up the season at Chittenango Friday night.

Staff Writer

The Cortland High football team will have a new look this season, starting at the very top.
Dave Darrow, the school’s long-time wrestling coach, takes over the varsity football squad from Jim Brown, who had led the Purple Tigers since 1998.
There are 40 players on the roster this fall, 17 of them back from last year’s team, which went 0-5 in Section 3’s Class A American Division and 1-8 overall. A total of three full-time offensive starters, three full-time starters on defense (six in all on each side saw at least some starting time last season) and five players with at least some special-team experience are back from a year ago.
Darrow is upfront about where CHS stands going into the season, which starts Friday with a 7 p.m. visit to league foe Chittenango. “We’re at the bottom of the (league) heap, and will have to work to get back toward the middle,” he said. “But the kids are working hard; they want to play. We know it’s going to be a tough year, and that every game is going to be tough.”
Other league members, in addition to Cortland and Chittenango, are defending champion East Syracuse-Minoa, Fulton, Jamesville-DeWitt, Mexico and Fowler, back after a year in AA. Oswego, a Class AA school, is a provisional league member, and will not face CHS this season.
“ES-M, Fulton and J-D are three solid teams,” Darrow said. “Mexico and Chittenango are probably a little better than us, and with Fowler, it depends on the numbers they have when we play them. Mt. Markham (a Class C team CHS plays instead of Owego) is also a tough team.”
Heading up the returning Purple Tigers are a pair of seniors, tight end-defensive lineman Matt Pitcher (6-5, 225 pounds) and center-defensive lineman Brad Rogers (6-1, 240), plus junior running back cornerback Will Fickenscher (6-2, 175). Pitcher was a first-team all-league offensive lineman last fall, while Rogers and Fickenscher both earned all-league honorable mention.
Other returnees include seniors A.J. Meldrim (quarterback-safety; 5-10, 155), Stephen Wright (split end-defensive back; 6-1, 155); Nate Thomas (quarterback-defensive back; 5-9, 155), Coty Cute (running back-defensive end; 6-0, 175), Tyler Soprano (split end-defensive back; 5-10, 155), Kyle Peterson (two-way lineman; 5-8, 180), Brett Miller (two-way lineman; 5-8, 180), Justin Carter (split end-defensive end; 6-0, 185), Lane Day (running back-cornerback; 5-7, 150) and Brian Sypher (split end-defensive back; 5-9, 150).
Also back from 2006 are juniors Garrett Wyatt (running back-defensive back; 5-7, 150), Dan Foster (running back-defensive back; 5-9, 185), Josh Morehouse (running back-linebacker; 5-11, 180) and Eric Confer (two-way lineman; 6-1, 230).
Among the newcomers are juniors Brandon Fitzgerald (running back-linebacker; 5-10, 160), James Krueger (running back-cornerback; 5-8, 150), Jake Bryson (running back-linebacker; 6-1, 180), Corby Reynolds (running back-defensive back; 5-8, 150), Mitch Fitts (running back-linebacker; 5-8, 175), Justin Guerin (tight end-defensive end; 6-3, 180), Martin Stark (two-way lineman; 5-10, 195), Ian Spafford (offensive lineman-linebacker; 6-2, 200), Seth Turner (two-way lineman; 5-11, 185), Zach Huenink (two-way lineman; 6-0, 210), Travis Block (offensive line-linebacker; 5-9, 170), Nick Barbarito (two-way lineman; 5-10, 255); Kyle Field (two-way lineman; 6-0, 200), Joseph Marks (two-way lineman; 6-4, 310), Kyle Jackson (two-way lineman; 5-11, 195), Cody Peak (split end-defensive end; 5-8, 150) and Cody Smith (tight end-defensive end; 6-1, 160).
The team’s other varsity rookies are seniors Bayshaun Barlow (split end-cornerback; 5-8, 145), Levi Walrath (split end-defensive back; 6-3, 180), and Mitchell Gleason (two-way lineman; 6-3, 340), sophomores Rob Crandall (two-way lineman; 6-2, 200) and Camerin Edgar (tight end-defensive end; 6-1, 195) and freshman running back-defensive back Dyquann Barlow (5-7, 145; Bayshaun’s brother).
Cute is the top returning rusher, having gained 83 yards on 22 carries (3.50) and one touchdown. Meldrim was 17-for-57 passing for 231 yards and one TD, and Wright caught six passes for 61 yards (10.17).
Pitcher and Cute are this year’s permanent captains, and three more players will be selected as game captains during each week of the season.
Key graduation losses from last year include first-team running back Jon Wood, who had 77 carries for 363 yards (4.73 a carry), second-best on the team, scored 18 total points (two TDs rushing, one receiving), also second-best, and was also the second-best receiver with nine catchers for 105 yards (11.67) and another TD; Kaywon Pittman, a second-team receiver who caught 23 passes for 327 yards (14.22 yards per) to lead CHS in that category; top rusher Brian Benford (96-for-490 for 4.82 a tote; top CHS scorer with 26 points); quarterback Tim Fulton, the team’s top passer (35-for-69 for 420 yards, two touchdowns and nine interceptions) and second-team kicker Cody Clayton (one field goal and eight conversions).
Other league honorees last season, both honorable mentions, were safety-running back Jay Hartnett, linebacker-running back Derek Goodwin and two-way lineman Keith Sherman.
“We have decent speed and the kids have good heart and want to play,” Darrow said in assessing his team’s strengths. “Our lack of experience is going to hurt us a little. We’ll play power football offensively — run some I, Power I, pro sets right and left, some triples (receivers) and keep people guessing. We’ll use four- and five-man fronts on defense, depending on our personnel.”
As for a potential starting lineup for the opener, Darrow said that, on offense, Reynolds and Wright are the wide receivers, Pitcher the tight end, Spafford and Field the tackles, Barbarito and Gleason the guards, Rogers the center, Meldrim the quarterback, Morehouse the fullback and Cute the tailback.
On defense, Cute and Foster will be the ends, Pitcher and Barbarito the tackles, Martin Stark the nose guard, Morehouse, Edgar and Fitzgerald the linebackers, Thomas the safety and Fickenscher and Wyatt the cornerbacks.
Walrath will handle the field goals, extra-point kicks and punting, and Cute the kickoffs. Thomas and Wright will be the return men (kickoffs and punts).
Pete Reif returns as a varsity assistant, with Tom Murphy joining the varsity staff. Head coach Eric Prior and Paul Thomas are back with the junior varsity, as are head man Brian Tasselmyer and Joe DiSanto with the modified squad, joined this season by Joe Nicholas and Zac Darrow, the varsity coach’s son.


Talented Trojans hope to be contenders

Staff Writer

There are a number of questions to be answered when the 2007 Section 3 B West Division football season kicks off in just over 24 hours at George W. Butts Field.
Homer Central is coming off a strong 7-2 season, finishing 5-1 in B West action, with no big name running back but loads of talent waiting to be tapped by head coach Gary Podsiedlik as he enters his 18th season.
The Trojans are also entering their 60th season of varsity football, which starts with Westhill’s 7 p.m. visit Friday.
“I believe we are almost at the point that I want to be,” said Podsiedlik. “I have said this year that we can’t wait to get good on defense this year, which we were able to do the past couple of years. Things just worked out well the past two years where the offense took care of most things as the defense got better. We need the defense to be strong from the first down of the first game this year. The guys got that message on day one of pre-season practice and they are getting it done. We are stronger mentally on defense already and they should help us physically.
“Offensively, we are where I expected us to be,” Podsiedlik continued. “There are some things that still needed a little work as we prepare for the opener against Westhill. We needed to sharpen up a couple of areas after the scrimmage and we have worked on that as well. I really think we are very close to wear we have to be.”
The Trojans do not enter the 2007 season with the standout tailback like the past two seasons. But with a veteran senior at quarterback, an experienced junior in the backfield and some good experience in the offensive line the ground game should be solid again.
Will Connery (5-foot-8, 160 pounds) was the back-up QB, but he becomes the signal-caller with junior Joey Rivers (5-10, 175) and senior Mike Carboine (6-5, 225) giving the Trojans three solid quarterbacks. Connery knows the system and was voted one of the team captains, as was Carboine.
“We can win games with any of the three at quarterback,” said Podsiedlik. “It is nice to be three-deep at quarterback. They are all quality players.”
The running back picture has no player standing out right now, but that makes it harder for the opposing defense to zero in on one person. Those runners are also fair evenly matched and could play either tailback or fullback.
“We really can be a multi-back team this season,” Podsiedlik stated.
Returning to the mix this season is junior K.J. Reese (5-8, 190), who came up from the JV ranks early last year and became the fullback that helped cleared the way for all-league tailback Mark Brenchley. Reese was also the second leading rusher with 221 yards on just 38 carries. Reese could step into the tailback role was his powerful running style.
Also back from 2006 are seniors Jake Smith (5-10, 185) and Jay Riley (5-10, 165) with juniors D.J. Canfield, Brad Sustad, Mark Park (6-0, 175) and Brandon Simonetta moving up from the JV ranks, along with sophomore Aleks Glover (5-9, 180).
“Simonetta and Park are looking great at tailback,” Podsiedlik said. “Smith, Riley, Reese, Glover gives up great depth and Canfield or Sustad could step in. Many of these guys can play at fullback or tailback. There is not a great running back in the group, but that is not a knock on any of them. If these guys worked within the offensive scheme and trust their blockers, we are going to be solid in the running game.”
The same versatility applies at wide receiver and tight end. Carboine (12 catches-220 yards) was the tight end in 2006, but he could also move to the split end. Junior split end Talon Spouse (6-1, 190) is back after catching five passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns last year. Simonetta could also play split end.
Senior Franco Giordano is back to play tight end as well and could allow the offense to move to some double-tight end formations. Junior Kyle Mitchell and senior Asa Spencer give the Trojans depth at tight end with junior Zach Randolph working hard at split end.
One player out of action with a wrist injury is junior Kane Hartnett, who could play at split end or in the backfield as well as defensive back. Also, on the injury list at this time is junior Saxson Sprouse, another spilt end/defensive back.
Anchoring the offensive line are returning seniors Kyle Sandy (5-11, 265), Sean McSherry (6-0, 210) and Chris Crossway (6-3, 310). Sandy is the third captain on this 2007 team and is tabbed as the starting left guard at this time. Crossway is the starting left tackle and McSherry is the starting center. Junior Kyle Griffin (5-9, 190) and senior Branden Brown (6-0, 210) were leading candidates for the right guard and right tackle spots, respectively. Juniors Alex Duell and Mike Norris, plus senior Justin Hartnett are pushing for some starting time. Another senior, Lance Graffius, is new, but working hard and learning the guard spot and junior Nate Compton is also in the mix.
“We don’t have the depth I would like on the line,” Podsiedlik said. “There are not as many second-team guys challenging the first-team guys right now. The guys are all working hard and I like the effort. I just want the second-team guys pushing the first-team guys a little more.”
Defensively, Sandy is the starting nose guard with Crossway at defensive tackle with Carboine at defensive end in the 3-5 scheme. Brown is pushing with playing time at all three line positions with depth from Duell, Norris, McSherry, Hartnett and Compton.
In the linebacker spots, Giordano is the strong-side outside linebacker (gator) and Park at weak-side outside linebacker (dog) with Riley subbing behind both those guys. Griffin is the weak-side inside backer (wolf), Reese at middle linebacker (mack) and Smith at strong-side inside linbacker (shark) with Glover able to step into any spot.
“A lot of these guys are interchangeable,” Podsiedlik said. “They can get the job done. We might even dropped Griffin down as a defensive tackle or defensive end at times.”
Adding depth are Canfield, Sustad, Graffius and Spencer.
In the secondary, Connery is the strong-side cornerback with Rivers at free safety and Talon Sprouse at the quick-side cornerback. Simonetta can fill in at all three positions.
Adding some depth are Randolph and Mitchell.
For the special teams positions, Talon Sprouse is looking good in all three phases (kickoff, extra points and punting). Glover could handle the kicking duties as well. Connery is a very good punter and will hold the ball on field goals and extra-point attempts with Rivers as a back-up. Duell and McSherry will handle the long-snapper duties. Kick and punt returns will be by committee.
Coach Podsiedlik will have his veteran staff back as well. Varsity assistants are Tom Cottrell, Jim Whidden and Jim Luchsinger with volunteer assistants David Podsiedlik and Joey Eells all returning. Pat Quinn is also back as a volunteer assistant.
Troy Humphrey is back as junior varsity head coach with Geoff Sorenson assisting. Volunteer JV assistants include Derrick Hartnett, Trevor O’Gorman and Brian Hart. Mark Ferrito is the junior high head coach with Mark Bertram returning as his assistant. Volunteer assistants include Tyler Zisk, John McGrath and John Tinker.
As for the division overall, Coach Podsiedlik has these thoughts.
“The division is very tough and very balanced,” he said. “Solvay and Marcellus will by solid. Phoenix and Skaneateles continued to improve with Jordan-Elbridge capable of beating anyone. Lafayette/Fabius-Pompey will be a bit of a mystery, but you can’t take them lightly. There is nothing more dangerous than a hungry team.”




CHS focusing in on lofty goals

Staff Writer

The Cortland High girls’ soccer team came up just short of a sectional championship last fall, losing 2-1 in overtime to rival Homer Central in the Class A title game.
Coach Abbey Albright’s Purple Tigers are in good shape to mount a similar run this season, with six of their top seven scorers back. They start the season by hosting Henninger at 11 a.m. Friday in a non-league game.
For her part, Albright isn’t thinking about the post-season at this point, nor does she want her team to do so.
“As the coach, I want the girls to keep their focus on each game as it comes,” she said. “I don’t like to look too far ahead. I want this team to keep the positive outlook that it’s starting the season with, and to be able to get past and learn from any setbacks we may encounter as the season goes on.
“Having so many players back does make coming to practice every day a little easier. The veterans know what to expect, and its good to see them grow as individuals and as a team. It’s also exciting to see the chemistry of the veterans and the newcomers, and to see everyone stepping it up.”
High on the list of returnees is senior forward Natalie Muka, who led CHS with 18 goals and five assists for 41 points last fall, when Cortland finished 12-3-1 in the OHSL Freedom Division and 16-4-1 overall. She was a first-team all-league selection, a member of the Section 3 Class A all-star squad and a third-teamer on the All-CNY team, as well as one of the Purple Tigers three MVPs.
Juniors Katherine Hunsberger (forward; 11-4-26, second on the team, second-team all-league) and Casey Marks (forward-midfielder; 8-8-24, third; first-team all-league, tri-MVP) also return, as do junior midfielder Jenna Phelps (honorable mention; 2-10-14) and sophomore forward-midfielder Aubrey VanGorder (6-2-14), who tied for fifth on the team in scoring, and sophomore midfielder Elle DePerno (3-2-8, seventh). Also back is the other tri-MVP, junior Caitlin Cottone (first-team all-league).
Other returnees are seniors Jackie Jacob (midfielder), Kaitlin Houck (defense), Amanda Cheetham (midfielder), Bailey Reagan (defense), Caitlin Stevens (defense) and Katie Apley (goal) and junior Emily VanGorder (defense; honorable mention and Aubreys sister).
Muka, Reagan and Stevens are the team captains.
New to the varsity level this season are senior goalie Taylor Hewes and junior defender Adrianna Helms, out for the first time, and three players up from the junior varsity in junior forward Hannah Dovi and sophomores Morgan VanGorder (defense; cousin of Emily and Aubrey) and Alexis Keeney (midfield).
Key losses from a year ago include midfielder Kim Natoli (7-3-17, fourth on the team in scoring; second team), goalkeeper Natalie Khazzaka (16 goals in 18.5 games, 0.86 goals-against average, 68 saves; honorable mention) and defender Stephanie VanGorder (second team).
Albright sees her team’s ability to control the pace of play on both ends of the field as a key to its success this season, as well as how quickly and efficiently the veterans and newcomers come together as a cohesive unit.
“Everyone has a positive outlook on the season, and the team gets along well,” she said when asked about CHS strengths. “You don’t see anyone being negative. It’s good to have girls who want to be there for each other and the team; that takes you a long way.
“It’s a really focused group, and if someone starts to get off the track, someone else is always there to help them get refocused.”
As for the OHSL Freedom Division race this season, Albright said that Syracuse CBA and Homer are always strong, and good competition. “I also feel that there are some other teams in the league that made good strides last season, which I won’t name. Again, we don’t want to look too far ahead, but chip away a little at a time rather than trying to take it all at once.”




TC3 women beaten to open new facility

DRYDEN — Tompkins Cortland Community College women’s soccer gave the home crowd at the team’s new soccer facility several reasons to cheer, but ultimately not enough as the Panthers dropped the season opener Wednesday night.
Playing against a Division I school from New Jersey, Sussex County CC, the Panthers lost 4-1.
The opening half saw the visitors score a pair to take a 2-0 lead into the break. The first goal came on a penalty kick 24 minutes into play, with the second tally coming 12 minutes later on a breakaway. Despite several good chances, TC3 was held off the scoreboard until the second half.
The Panthers cut the lead to 2-1 in the 60th minute when Danielle Hiza beat the defense to a ball. After controlling the ball while the Sussex goalkeeper Heather Harold came out and attempted a tackle, Hiza found back of the net for the tally.
The visitors responded with a pretty goal off a crossing pass two minutes later to make it 3-1. The final tally came when what looked to be a long pass from near midfield floated over TC3 goalkeeper Casey Ebeling and into the goal.
TC3 will open the play against fellow Division III teams this weekend with the NJCAA Women’s Northeast Cup. The four-team invitational will be held at TC3 Saturday and Sunday. The Panthers will face Jamestown CC Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Holyoke CC (Mass.) Sunday at 12:15 p.m.
TC3 MEN tied Alfred State 1-1 in their season opener. Dryden High graduate Kyle Clapper scored the Panther goal.
The Panther men will host their version of the NJCAA Northeast Cup Saturday and Sunday. TC3 will play Holyoke (Mass.) CC Saturday at 8:15 p.m. before facing Bunker Hill (Mass.) CC Sunday at 5 p.m.



Trojans have some big holes to fill

Staff Writer

When Homer Central girls step onto the tennis court this afternoon for their 4 p.m. OHSL Freedom Division season opener at Cortland High, the rebuilding season will officially begin.
Trojan coach Nancy Cavellier lost three talented seniors, who played in the program since seventh grade, to graduation and two of her top returning players are starting the season on the sidelines. The Trojans were 6-4 in Freedom Division play and 7-5 overall in 2006.
“This is definitely a rebuilding season for us. The loss of three key seniors has left a huge hole to fill in experience and leadership,” said Cavellier, who will enter her 19th season looking to replace departed standouts Kelly Noble, Lindsay Richards and Molly Warren.
“We currently have two veteran players out of action,” Cavellier continued. “ Jean Martinez is out for a while and Natalie Sutton may miss a couple early matches because of a foot injury. That really has forced me to juggle the line-up even more.”
Martinez earned first-team all-star status at third singles in 2006 with her 11-3 record and she was penciled in as the first singles play this season as a sophomore. Sutton played mostly doubles, but she was also a possibly singles player to start the season.
With the return of Martinez and Sutton in limbo, so are any firm singles and doubles combination for Coach Cavellier in the opening part of this season.
Heading the list of returning players for the Trojans are seniors Laura Major and Katie Strausser. Major and Sutton are the captains in 2007.
Returning juniors include Hope Chambrone, Michele Pfleuger, Mariah Hubbard, Emily Martin, Katie Spencer and Alaina Ryan with sophomores Rachel Perry and Jessica Gutchess coming back as well. Martin and Major were the most successful doubles combination in 2006 with an 8-6 record that earned honorable mention status in the league.