August 31, 2009


Rivals prepare

CHS adapts well, looks good

Staff Writer

Despite the less than ideal circumstances, Cortland High football coach Dave Darrow was fairly happy with results of his squad’s scrimmage against visiting Camden and Westhill Saturday.
“We had wet and muddy conditions, not necessarily good for our type of football this year,” the Purple Tigers head man said afterwards.”Last year it would have been great; this year it’s not so good. We adjusted to it and got better. This year we’re going to be spread out (offensively); we’ll have to make plays after the catch.
“The offense and defense were both shaky at the start, but improved greatly as the day went on. I think we did pretty well; we were really tentative at first and made a lot of mental mistakes the first part of the scrimmage. Then we improved as we went along. We’ve got some young kids; they needed to get hit a couple of times to get the nerves out of them and then after that they played pretty well. We did get better, and nobody’s hurt, so we’re in good shape, I think.”
Of the 35 players on the Purple Tigers roster this season, 14 are back from last fall, including 13 seniors. Overall, the CHS squad consists of 16 seniors, 15 juniors and four sophomores.
Senior wide receiver/cornerback Dyquann Barlow was held out of Saturday’s action because of a sore quadriceps, but Darrow said that he’ll be ready to go against host Homer Friday in the 7 p.m. season-opener.
“We ran the ball better as the day went on, and I thought we threw the ball pretty good (seniors Shane McCaskill and Brian Pristash were the quarterbacks),” Darrow said. “We completed 11 balls, with some big ones, four over 25 yards. Our second line came along better after they got the second set of plays; our first line did all right. We’ve got some work to do.
“The defense did great; they swarmed the ball, and played very well after they got their feet wet a little bit. We opened right up with Westhill; they’re very good. Our defense will be very good, I think. We’ll be fine (overall) as long we don’t have anybody hurt; we’ll be pretty solid. If we lose some people, we’ll scramble. Our defense and passing games will be strengths; if our running game comes along well, we’ll be pretty tough, because we have three or four kids who can get downfield and catch passes.”
The scrimmage was conducted two teams at a time. First-team offenses and defenses would go at it for 10-play sets the first three times through, and then the second-team units collided for the next three. Cortland and Camden got in some down-and-distance work with both their first and second teams and ended the day with some kick conversion practice.
“We ran roughly 70 or 80 plays,” said Darrow, who noted that his team scored one touchdown against Camden and gave up one TD to each of its two opponents. “We would coach them up in between. Westhill is a good program; they’ve got a good team this year. They didn’t have a place to go; they got shut out of their scrimmage and got to come in on ours. Camden, I think, looks a lot like us. We scored once against them and gave up one TD to each of the other two teams.
“The problem is you sit for so long; you sit for 20 plays and it could be your twos coming back in instead of your ones, so then that’s 40 plays. You can sit a long time. You don’t get as many repetitions with our ones and twos, so it’s tough to get much flow going.”
Darrow said that the film exchange between Cortland and Homer was to take place later on Saturday. After an off day Sunday, the Purple Tigers were to come in and lift weights starting at 2:30 p.m. today, then practice just in helmets, shorts and T-shirts. “And then we’re full-bore from 2:30 to 6:30 every day the rest of the week, except for Thursday, which will be a little shorter because we have a team dinner,” he said.
Cortland is the only Section 3 Class A American Division team that will open the season with a non-league game, the other six slated to play in the Carrier Dome next weekend. “Everybody wants to see us play Homer,” Darrow said. “It’s a big game for everybody, and this is the only way we can assure we can actually play the game. Otherwide we wouldn’t know until the end of the year; if one team wins a playoff game, then you don’t get a chance to play.
“It’s good if you win, and hard to get ready for the next league opponent if you don’t. Our first league game is against East Syracuse-Minoa (the defending league champion, in the Purple Tigers’ 7 p.m. home opener Sept. 11), and they’ll be good.”