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September 2, 2006

 

Big plays help out Trojans

Homer gets season started with 20-9 win over Lakers

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Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Homer Central’s Tristan Hartnett (19) heads upfield after picking off a Skaneateles pass Friday night at Butts Field, pursued by Ian Newland (7). Trojans opened the season winning 20-9.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

It was not a pretty game, but Homer Central got some big plays on both sides of the ball and it was enough for the Trojans to pull out a 20-9 Section 3 Class B West Division football win over Skaneateles Friday night at George W. Butts Field.
It was the first game of the 2006 season for each team.
Mark Brenchley rushed for a game-high 139 yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Tristan Hartnett and Will Connery connected on a 55-yard scoring strike in the second quarter. Connery also shined on defense with an interception of a misthrown Ian Newland pass in the end zone to thwart one Lakers scoring drive.
“The quarterback was telegraphing his throws,” said Connery. “He would overthrow or underthrow his receivers at times. I was able to pick the ball off on that one play and I knocked a couple more down.
“This really was a tough game and a good win for us. We just need to take things one game at a time.”
Brenchley set the tone early for Homer by returning the opening kickoff 70 yards to the Skaneateles 15-yard line. Hartnett started the drive with a nine-yard toss to Connery and, four plays later, Brenchley barreled in from one yard out. Talon Sprouse kicked the extra point and the Trojans Led 7-0 with 9:29 left in the first quarter,
The Lakers answered with a 12-play drive. Behind the running of fullback James Allen (18 carries-106 yards) and Newland (21 carries-85 yards) on the option, Skaneateles drove to the Trojan 12-yard line, but was stopped on fourth down.
This was the pattern for a good chunk of the first half as Skaneateles used a solid ball-control ground attack to chew up time on the clock. The Lakers piled up 121 rushing yards and held the ball for 14 minutes and 18 seconds.
After Connery stopped the Lakers second offensive drive with his end zone pick, Skaneateles got the ball right back. On second down, Hartnett was off-line and Aron Bodwitch picked the ball off and the Trojan 32 and returned in 16 yards to the Trojan 16.  Nearly four minutes later, the seven-play drive stalled at the Homer three and Greg Cooper came in and booted a 20-yard field goal as the Lakers pulled within 7-3 with seven minutes left in the first half.
Homer was forced to punt on its next possession. The Trojan coverage team did not see the fair catch signal and tackled the return man. The resulting 15-yard penalty put the ball at the Trojan 36. After a short two-run blast by Matt Wild, Allen scampered 19 yards to the Trojan 17. A four-yard option run by Newland, plus a personal foul after the tackle got the Lakers a first down at the Trojan six. Wild took another handoff and raced the remaining distance for a 9-7 Laker lead with 2:56 left in the first half.
Undaunted, Brenchley returned the kickoff 23 yards to the Homer 43. Three plays later, Hartnett went deep to Connery on a 55-yard scoring strike to put the Trojans back on top 13-9 with 1:47 until intermission.
“I saw Tristan scrambling,” Connery said. “The cornerback stopped and I got behind him. Tristan made a good throw and I caught it.”
Skaneateles again drove to the Homer 22, but Hartnett deflected a fourth-down pass with six seconds left in the half.
“We could move the ball, but we could not finish the drives off in the red zone,” Skaneateles coach John King said. “I am proud of our kids because they hung tough the entire game. Homer is a good team and they made some big plays. You can’t give up those types of plays to good teams.”
The game was a defensive struggle in the second half as both teams responded to repeated challenges. With less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Brenchley ran a nice counter to the near sideline and raced 39 yards to the Skaneateles four-yard line. Four plays later, Brenchley plowed into the end zone to seal the win with 42.9 seconds remaining.
“We made some adjustments to our coverage and our defense at halftime and it worked,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “More importantly, we swarmed to the ball. Our tackling and intensity was much better in the second half.
“Give Skaneateles a lot of credit. Coach King did a great job prepping his team for us. They ran their option well and the fullback had some real good runs.”
After carrying the ball 27 times and playing much of the game on defense at linebacker, Brenchley was tired, but satisfied with the win.
“I wasn’t expecting to run the ball that much,” the senior said. “We have a good quarterback and I figured we would throw the ball more. I will do whatever I have to do to help our team win, This was a dogfight between two good teams and we pulled it out.
“I really need to thank everyone who helped us get in shape, especially the coaches. They knew what was good for us with stretching and other exercises. We did change some things around in conditioning, but I trust the coaches and my teammates,” he added.
Appropriately enough, the game ended with Jake Smith intercepting Newland for the third time in the game.
Statically, Skaneateles rushed for 230 yards to 116 yards for Homer while the Trojans held a 78-45 edge in passing yards. The Lakers totaled 275 yards while the Trojans mustered 194 yards.
Homer will make its first road trip of the 2006 season next Friday. The Trojans will travel to Phoenix for a 4:30 kickoff with the Firebirds, who lost 38-7 to Westhill last night.

 

 

Purple Tigers get blanked by Red Rams

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

Kevin Schahczenski had made two trips to Moiseichik Field during his six-year tenure as head coach of the Jamesville-DeWitt football team prior to Friday night’s season-opening Section A American contest with Cortland High.
A last-second, last-ditch touchdown pass in 2003 and a late rally last fall had sent the Red Rams home on the losing end both times, past the full-size white and purple tiger statue near the entrance gate.
“The ghost of the Purple Tiger jumped on our backs as we were leaving twice,” Schahczenski said with a smile that told you all you needed to know about Friday’s final outcome, a 28-0 J-D victory. “It’s not on our backs any more, and it feels so good.”
Things were quieter in the Cortland locker room, as Coach Jim Brown talked about how, for much of the night, the Red Rams’ offensive line was able to control the line of scrimmage.
“We were stunting but not stepping up and making tackles,” he said quietly. “We weren’t being aggressive; we have to work on stepping up. We were on our heels. Their offensive line was pushing us off. They were running the buck sweep, we weren’t hitting the guards and they were trapping us inside. Our inexperience showed.”
“We played probably nine different guys on the offensive line, rotating them,” Schahczenski said. “We don’t have any linemen who are overpowering. We just wore Cortland down.”
The J-D defense that includes nine returning seniors, meanwhile, rose to the occasion, holding its hosts to 187 yards of total offense. Most of those yards yielded came once the lead was safely established — J-D most notably stopping Cortland twice early in the third quarter to preserve what was then only a 14-0 lead.
A Chris Daddario interception at the J-D 20 ended a short drive that began when Purple Tiger senior Brian Benford returned the second-half kickoff 51 yards to the visitors’ 34. After the Red Rams stalled, Cortland mounted its best sustained drive of the night, moving from its own 39 to the J-D one before a Purple Tiger fumbled the ball attempting to barrel into the end zone.