August 30, 2012
All ready for the early show
CHS-Homer rivalry will kick off season
When Cortland High and Homer Central meet for the 34th time in their football rivalry game, there are differences in this meeting that will come into play.
The Trojans lead the all-time series 17-15-1 as they head to the Moiseichik Field turf for tonight’s 7 p.m. kickoff. It will mark the first league encounter between the two neighbors since the 2002 season when Homer won 35-20 with a junior tailback named Luke Siwula.
Both teams were in Class A for that match-up, though the Purple Tigers and Trojans are now Sectiono 3 Class B West Division foes.
The last time CHS-Homer met as Class B combatants was in 2001, and again the Trojans prevailed 22-6 with senior tailback Chad Burhans.
The two teams have met six times since the 2002 encounter, with Cortland winning four times including a 36-21 triumph at Homer’s Butts Field last year. The last time the two met on opening day was 2008 with the Purple Tigers winning a thrilling 32-26 overtime decision on then grass-covered Moiseichik Field.
That was the lone OT contest played in the series.
Tonight’s game — the first to be played in Section 3 with other contests Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Syracuse University Carrier Dome — will be carried live by Time Warner Cable Sports television (Channel 19 locally) and is the Inaugural Rivalry Series game that is a part of their new Thursday Night series in 2012. WXHC (Oldies 101.5 FM) radio from Homer will also broadcast the game live.
“It certainly makes things interesting,” said Cortland head coach Dave Darrow who enters his sixth year as coach and sports a 3-1 record against Homer. “The biggest thing was making sure nobody missed a practice because there was one less day of pre-season. There was a lot of preparation, which we did some of during the summer, so we should be ready to run the things we need to run.
“Most everything is in place, but there are some things that aren’t,” he added. “Some things we just have not repped enough. We will stick with the things we have best prepped with and let the chips fall where they may.”
“What’s killing me most is the day less of practice,” says Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik of this week’s preparation for the Purple Tigers. He is in his 23rd year coaching at Homer and owns a 13-6 record against Cortland.
“We’re trying to budget the time to get everything we can repped for that first game because it is Cortland. You couldn’t push the kids too much, because you could fry their minds with too much information,” said Podsiedlik. “It’s a tightrope because you want to push them to the hilt, but not too much to overwhelm them. It is awesome otherwise. You are talking about one of the biggest rivalries in the section. We just get the following with the number of people who come to watch it.”
Darrow knows that Homer is a tough opponent no matter what, but Podsiedlik likes the added motivation of it being a league game since he has won the last two of those encounters.
“Any Homer game is just going to be tough no matter who has a better team,” Darrow said. “We are both very similar this season. It should be a real fun game.”
“I love that it is a league game,” Podsiedlik said. “It wasn’t a league game last year, but our guys still played out of their minds, but we weren’t mentally sharp the next week against Mexico. We can expend all that emotional energy because it is the season-opening league game. The Home-Cort Jug Game is a great one. This is the kind of game they write books and make movies about.”
Both coaches and the team captains weigh in on it being the opening game of the season.
“It is an emotional game,” Darrow said. “You do have to worry about having your kids ready for the next game. There is good and bad in this. Does it matter if it’s the first game of the last game? Not really, the guys are focused because it is Homer.”
“I like it as an opener,” Podsiedlik said. “Because the rivalry is alive in every level kids know it’s a big game. The guys don’t get yelled at in the summer when say they are thinking about Cortland. To me, the only opponent is the next opponent. Whoever that first opponent is is the next opponent. When the game is later on the schedule, the kids may want to talk about, but don’t talk about in front of me.
“There is some added pressure that is is the opening game and a league game,” Cortland captain Andrew Potter said. “We just need to win it. That will give us a lot of momentum into the next game.”
“I don’t know if it’s been any harder,” Homer captain Mark Dove said. “There definitely needed to be more focus in practice. We all have to be ready to go every single day.”
“It is interesting because we don’t usually have Thursday night games,” Homer captain Nate Cole said. “This time it is Cortland right out of the gate, so we do need that extra pump-up so we and get it done. We want this for us, because it is Cortland. It does mean more because it is a league game.”
The captains address the extra hype of television, radio and the rivalry.
“We’re excited,” Potter said. “We have been practicing hard and getting ready for the game. It is exciting the game is on Time Warner Cable.”
“It is definitely more of a challenge,” Dove replied. “As long as we work hard like we did in practice everything should come together and be alright.
“I just it’s more special,” he continued. “I really don’t want to get all caught up in that and lose focus on the game. If we just focus on football, we’ll be alright. Just forget about all the other hustle and bustle.”
“The guys have done a great job of getting ready,” Homer senior captain Nate Cole said. “The coaches have really been getting us ready. It is harder with one less day of practice, but we are doing a good job. We are focusing and we need to give that up to have a good game and season.”
When Time Warner got involved with Thursday night games this season, one coach almost said no.
“When Time Warner first sent me the survey about playing Thursday night I said no,” Podsiedlik said. “I don’t want the kids playing when they have school the next day. I want the kids to be ready and able to go to school the next day. Friday, we have a normal routine. They called back and asked what if it is before school starts and it’s part of a series called rivals. We would love to do Homer and Cortland in week one and I said okay.”
“I guess everybody will have a tape of Cortland and Homer,” Darrow chuckled. “Everybody will know what we run. It’s just another thing, we’re not really worried about it. We’ll just do the best we can.”
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