September 9, 2011
Solid Whitesboro to challenge CHS
The way Cortland High football coach Dave Darrow sees it, his team could have its hands full just staying in Saturday’s game with Whitesboro at SUNY Cortland’s Stadium Complex in a 6:30 p.m. start.
“They’re good everywhere, with no weaknesses, just a solid, solid football team,” said Darrow, whose Purple Tigers fell 49-13 in last fall’s Class A sectional semifinals to the Warriors, who were en route to their second straight sectional championship and finished the season as state runners-up. “We’ll have to do everything real well.
“We found some areas we could exploit against Fulton, but with Whitesboro there’s nothing to exploit,” he added, CHS coming off a 70-36 season-opening romp last Friday night at Fulton. “We’ll have to be solid in all aspects of the game, play a great game. We’ll see if we’re up to it. I wish we could have played this one later in the season.”
In discussing Whitesboro’s top players, Darrow rattled off a laundry list of names.
“Steve Almond (5-9, 180-pound senior tailback-defensive back) was all-CNY first-teamer last year,” he said, “and Connor Passalacqua (6-0, 215 halfback-linebacker) is really good. Their quarterback, Adam Eberley (5-8, 160 senior) is small but tough and runs well, and Mike Bunal (6-2, 185 senior split end/halfback-defensive back) is a stud at wideout, and can play quarterback, too.”
Other players Darrow singled out include Matt Felitto (6-0, 215 junior defensive end-halfback), C.J. Brucker (5-9, 225 senior Z-back-linebacker), Brian Flanagan (6-0, 195 senior tight end-nose tackle) and Joe Maggio (6-0, 260 junior right guard-defensive lineman).
“They go out of a split-back shotgun with wings on offense and a 40 or 50 set on defense with high safeties,” Darrow said. “They also have good special teams; I don’t know if we can break out two or three long touchdowns against them (after being able to do so against Fulton). We’ll have to see.
“We’ll have to play a real clean game. We can’t turn the ball over. They’ll try to pound on us and outflank us, and use toss sweeps behind their big bodies. Last year the game changed when Alex Stacy (then a senior tailback and the team’s leading rusher) went out early with an injury. They’re not better than they were last year, but it’s close.”
“CORTLAND IS VERY athletic,” Warriors coach Tom Schoen said, his team coming off a 41-29 opening-game win over visiting Indian River in a battle of two of the Class A National Division’s top teams. “Their quarterback (senior Devon Darrow) is obviously on the same page as his father with the offense, and does a good job of reading coverage and checking down. They have a lot of talent at the skill positions, including (senior tailback-cornerback Jonathan) Prior and (senior wideout Qwuhail) Barlow. That was a lot of points to put up in the first game of the season.
“Their front people on defense move pretty well, too. We expect they’ll be ready for us, and we’ll be all set to go. Almond is a solid player for us with a lot of speed, while Passalacqua has been with us for three years and can play four positions offensively and three on defense. Bunal is one of the better athletes we’ve had, and Eberley did great in his first start at quarterback. We’re not a large team physically; we go 230 to 240 (on average) in the big positions.”
Almond carried the ball 17 times against Indian River and picked up 112 yards with two touchdowns, while Bunal lugged the ball five times for 87 yards and two TDs. Eberley rushed for 176 yards on 14 carries, including a 48-yard TD run. He also completed 3-of-6 passes for 51 yards, including a 19-yard TD toss to Passalacqua, intercepted a pass, blocked a conversion kick with the game still close and returned a punt 37 yards, deep into Indian River territory.
Prior gained 104 yards on six carries and scored a TD, and caught four passes for 19 yards and another score, on an 18-yard strike from Devon Darrow. He also scored on an 82-yard kickoff return, a 68-yard punt return and a 33-yard fumble return. For his part, Devon Darrow completed 15-of-24 passes for 179 yards, the TD and one interception and rushed for 98 yards and three TDs on 13 carries.
Barlow was the leading receiver with three catches for 70 yards and scored a TD on an 81-yard kickoff return, while junior linebacker Colin Walsh had a 48-yard fumble return for a TD.
“WE’RE EXPLOSIVE (offensively), and we have to do some of that every game if we’re going to be successful,” Dave Darrow said. “We did a pretty good job of taking what Fulton gave us; we ran and threw the ball pretty well. But we had 125 yards worth of drops on passes that were right there, which we can’t afford this week.”
Saturday’s game is the start of a rugged three-game home stretch for Cortland. Indian River visits a week from today in a 7 p.m. start back at SUNY Cortland and East Syracuse-Minoa comes in the next weekend for a key Class A American Division game, the date, site and time to be determined. The Whitesboro and Indian River games were moved from Moiseichik Field due to ongoing renovations there.
“If we could beat Whitesboro and stay healthy, we’d have a shot at running the rest of them (regular-season schedule),” Dave Darrow said. “We’re healthy heading into Whitesboro, and hopefully we’ll get Andrew Potter (junior free safety-running back) back after he hurt his knee in the first week of practice. We’ll only use him one way, on defense, if he’s available, at least for now.”
Schoen said that his tentative starting lineup offensively will have Bunal at split end, Flanagan at tight end, Tanner Metoyer (6-2, 250 senior) at left tackle, Ted Olney (6-0, 190 junior) at left guard, Anthony Sokolowski (6-3, 205 senior) at center, Maggio at right guard, Jordan Lanahan (6-2, 250 junior) or Liam Murphy (6-2, 210 sophomore) at right tackle, Eberley at quarterback, Almond and Passalacqua the halfbacks and Brucker the formation (movement) back, or Z-back.
Defensively, Flanagan will be the nose tackle, Sokolowski and Metoyer the five-techniques (tackles), Felitto or Chad Martin (6-0, 185 senior) sharing the defensive end spot, Mark Nellenbach 5-11, 165 senior), Brucker and Passalacqua the linebackers and Bunal, Adam Pexton (5-8, 150 senior), Sean Fitts (5-9, 140 senior) and Almond in the secondary.
Bunal is the kicker and punt returner, Passalacqua the punter and Almond the kickoff returner.
For Cortland, Barlow will be the X wideout, junior Pat McMahon the slot, senior Dylan Stafford the tight end, junior Josh Gutchess the Z wideout, senior Seamus Fields the left tackle, junior Kevin Parker the left guard, senior Kyle Teeter the center, senior Jacob Mitchell the right guard, senior Zeke McGinn the right tackle, Devon Darrow the quarterback and Prior the tailback.
Defensively, Potter will be the free safety, Prior the right cornerback, McMahon the left cornerback, junior Nate Wright, senior Mike Baldassarre, junior Eric Richardson and Walsh the linebackers, junior Paul Turco the right defensive end, McGinn the left defensive end, Teeter the right tackle and junior Kody Cranston the left tackle.
Devon Darrow is the punter and Cranston kicks off. Prior and Barlow are both kickoff and punt returners.
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