September 8, 2011
Westhill offers next stiff Trojans test
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Senior quarterback Thomas Austin will direct the Homer Central offense when Westhill visits Friday.
Coming off a tough 7-6 opening night win at Marcellus, Homer Central will face another stiff football test with Friday night’s home opener.
The Trojans (1-0) will host the other tri-champion from 2010 — Westhill’s Warriors — in Section 3 Class B West Division action kicking off on George W. Butts Field at 7 p.m. Homer, Marcellus and Westhill all shared first place last fall in the final league standings.
This Butts Field debut will also feature the seventh Homer Central Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremonies taking place at halftime (see separate story).
“Despite everything going on this week, we are getting a lot of work done,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “In addition to the usual physical demands of practice, the guys are dealing more with the mental side because classes started this week. Now you have to stay sharp both ways because you have the school work during the day and practice later in the afternoon. We’re doing homework, preparing for classes and preparing for a tough opponent.”
Westhill is coming off a hard-fought 14-7 win over Solvay last Friday night. It was a combination of many things that had Warrior head coach Gary Griffo just happy to get the first win.
“We lost 24 seniors to graduation and a lot of our returning players have no real varsity game-time experience,” Griffo said. “They are still looking to gain confidence.
“Throw in an improving Solvay team with a new coaching staff, the first game jitters and the fact that we either fumbled the ball or punted on every possession in the second half and it was tough night,” he added.
Junior fullback Jahsan Owens led the Westhill rushing attack with 67 on just four carries while freshman quarterback Richie Easterly completed 5-of-15 passing attempts for 105 yards. Senior tight end Jacob Nigolian and junior flanker Jacob Redmond each had two catches. Nigolian totaled 41 yards and Redmond 36. Redmond scored the winning touchdown on a three-yard run in the second quarter. Senior wide receiver Alex Peebles had the other catch for 28 yards.
Griffo said he is counted on the leadership from captains Nigolian, Peebles and senior left guard Mike Brusa for valuable leadership. He is also counting on Brusa (6-foot-1, 215 pounds), junior center Carson Hicks (6-2, 250) and senior right guard Chris Lawton (6-3, 270) to anchor the offensive line.
Defensively, Griffo turns to Hicks (DT), senior middle linebacker Joe Perry (5-9, 205) and junior defensive end Mark Vadala (6-1, 220) to be the leaders. Vadala recovered a Solvay fumble in the end zone for the Warriors’ first-quarter score.
Westhill stills like the shot-gun formation with a Delaware Wing-T, but they showed a lot more double tight-end, wishbone looks and I-formation stuff.
“I think Westhill, being a little younger this year, will try to use more of a power running game against us until we prove we can stop them,” Podsiedlik said. “They will challenge us that way on offense.
“On defense,” he continued. “They show multiple fronts. They used a 6-man front, a 5-front, a 4-3 and 4-man overload front. That’s a lot to look at and to think about, but our guys are smart and have taken what we’ve shown them and executed it. We will need to do that again this week.”
“Homer is a physical team,” Griffo said. “We need to be more consistent to beat them. We need our young players to stay focused on their job. Everyone needs to do their job and trust their teammates. Also, we need to cut down on the turnovers. We will get better with more experience.
“Homer is very well coached,” he added. “Gary and his staff have been there a long time and really prepare their kids well. Their guys really tore things up as JVs and I expect them to be tough again now that they are all together again.”
Podsiedlik respects Griffo and the Westhill program just as much.
“We need to finish those passing plays where we have guys wide open,” Podsiedlik said. “We had three of those last week. We need to run the ball effectively. On defense, we need to force turnovers, force the quarterback to make quick decisions when they use the shot gun and we need to capitalize on any mistakes they make.”
Senior tailback Austin Recor led the Trojan ground game against Marcellus with 109 yards on 22 carries with senior tailback Conner Johnston added 45 yards on 10 carries. Senior quarter Thomas Austin completed 3-of-9 passing attempts for 31 yards, including a four-yard scoring strike to senior wide receiver Dyson Sprouse for the lone Homer touchdown. Senior halfback Anthony Contento (22 yards) and junior tight end Brandon Maxson (5 yards) had the other catches.
TROAJ TIDBITS: Blue Collar Awards were handed out from the Marcellus week recipients Alex Fisher (lineman) and Austin Recor (non-line). The previous winner determines who he passes the award on to. Fisher handed his to junior center Nate Cole while Recor passed his on to Anthony Contento...The Trojans hold a 12-5 edge in the all-time series including a big 21-14 victory at Westhill in 2010.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe