September 16, 2006
Trojans capture Tale of Two Halves
Cortland High encouraged despite 25-12 loss at Butts
Bob Ellis/staff phtoographer
Homer Central Tailback Mark Brenchley follows the block of Paul Fedele (25) on Jay Hartnett (3) of Cortland High Friday at Butts Field.Brenchley rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown in 25-12 Trojans’ win.
When Homer Central and Cortland High stepped onto George W. Butts Field Friday night to renew their football rivalry for the 29th time, each team was looking for a spark to ignite its season.
And each team found it.
While the scoreboard read: Homer 25, Cortland 12 at the final horn, each team succeeded in its quest in front of a near-capacity crowd, including the 2006 class of Homer School Athletic Hall of Fame inductees.
The Trojans (3-0 overall) played their best first half of football in three starts as Tristan Hartnett completed his first five passes, two for touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior quarterback was 7-for-10 for 140 yards in the first half as the Trojans built an 18-0 lead.
Down, but not out, the Purple Tigers (0-3) regrouped and played their best two consecutive quarters of football in the second half and outscored their host 12-7, turning a tough loss into a positive building block as each team heads back into league play next Friday with Homecoming contests.
Homer returns to Section 3 Class B-West Division play against Solvay, while Cortland will host Class A-American Division foe Oswego. Both games are 7 p.m. starts.
“I was proud of how our guys played in the second half,” Cortland coach Jim Brown said. “We ran the ball well in the second half with the V-formation. Our guys didn’t quit and we showed a lot of heart. We definitely have some things to build on.
“Homer hurt us in the first half on the pass. We were geared up to stop (Mark) Brenchley because he is a good back. They threw the ball well and were able to get a couple of touchdowns on us.”
Homer struck quickly as the Trojans opened the game with a five-play, 57 yard scoring drive. The key play was a 43-yard touchdown pass from Hartnett to junior speedster Talon Sprouse, who got behind the Cortland secondary and raced down the far sideline for six points with 9:06 left in the quarter.
The Trojan defense held the Purple Tigers to three-plays-and-out and forced Codi Clayton to punt from deep in Tiger territory, Clayton punted the ball to the Tiger 44 where the Trojans “Mr. All-Purpose Back” Mark Brenchley fielded the ball and raced 14 yards to the Tiger 30-yard line.
After three straight running plays, Hartnett again went up top and completed a 17 yard scoring strike to 6-5 senior tight end Mike Carboine to cap the four-play drive and put the Trojans on top 12-0 with 5:26 left in the first quarter.
“It was important to get a quick start tonight,” Tristan Hartnett said. “We haven’t gotten off to a very good start our first two games. This was just what we needed to start turning our play around.
“We knew Cortland would play a man-zone in the secondary. We worked on that all week in practice. Our receivers ran their route well and I threw the ball the best I could to them. It all worked out.”
Cortland was again forced to punt after just three offensive plays. Homer marched 38 yards to the Tiger 27-yard before before the Cortland defense stripped the ball from Brenchley and senior linebacker Brian Benford dove on the loose ball for the Tigers.
After a 15-yard pass from quarterback Tim Fulton to Kaywan Pittman, Cortland appeared to be gaining some momentum, but the drive came to a screeching halt. On third-and-16 yards to go, Homer sent the blitz and Fulton threw a floating pass towards Pittman. Trojan cornerback Will Connery swooped in and picked off the ball at the Trojan 44 and raced 56 yards for the touchdown. Homer now led 18-0 with 10:20 left in the first half.
“He (Fulton) underthrew the receiver,” Connery said. “It was like a pop-fly. I simply caught it, saw I had a ton of lead blockers in front of me and ran it in for the touchdown.”
“It was not a league game for us tonight, but it is definitely one of the big games for us.”
Trailing by three touchdowns, Cortland could have called it a day, but the Tigers responded with a five-minute offensive drive, and though it_did not yield any points, it served notice that the Purple Tigers were far from finished.
Homer marched from its own 20-yard line to the Cortland 15-yard line before the Tiger defense stuffed the drive on fourth down. Cortland responded with a drive to near midfield, but a fumble ended the late half drive when Connery pounded on the loose ball and the Trojan 48. Two plays got the ball to the Tiger 35, but, with time running out, Derek Goodwin and Dan Foster sacked Hartnett for an 11-yard loss to end the first half.
Ironically, other than 140 passing yards by Hartnett, the first half stats with close with Cortland holding a 68-62 edged in rushing yards.
Cortland was beginning to gain some momentum, but both defenses were looking strong until the Tigers began moving the ball well midway through the third quarter. With Benford, Jonathan wood and Coty Cute carried the load, Cortland drove to the Homer 41 where it appeared the Trojans had stopped the drive. On fourth down, Clayton was in punt formation, but began to run after bobbling the snap. As he was about to be tackled, Clayton threw a pass downfield. The pass fell incomplete, but the officials ruled the Trojan defenders were guilty of roughing the passer, the resulting penalty gave Cortland knew life at the Homer 26. Four plays later, Benford found a hole and raced 15 yards for a Cortland touchdown with 1:25 left in the quarter.
The 11-play, five -minute drive was the spark Cortland was looking for, but Homer did responded, with help from a roughing the passer penalty of its own.
The Trojans chewed six minutes on the clock before Brenchley charged into the end zone from eight yards outs. Sprouse kicked the only successful extra-point of the game as Homer led 25-6 with 7:23 left in the game.
“We talked about wanting to play a better game each week,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “We did that. Overall, I think was the best game that we have played. We were more focused. There was a lot more high energy on the field. The guys were nervous because it was Cortland, but they stayed calm. Things worked out well for us tonight.”
Still Cortland did not quit. A.J. Medrim guided the Tigers on a six-play, 68-yard scoring march capped by a 36-yard dash by Wood. Cortland trailed 25-12 with 4:25 to play.
Everyone knew that the on-sides kick was coming. Coach Podsiedlik does not change up the special team unit, so the linemen are the first line. Clayton executed the kick, but 6-3, 300-pound Trojan lineman Chris Crossway scooped up and “dashed” nine yards before stepping out of bounds. Homer ran out the clock to end the contest.
Brenchley led all rushers with 132 yards on 25 carries while Benford had 101 yards for the Tigers on 11 carries.
“The seniors did not want to go out with a loss to Cortland and we wanted to get “The Jug” back,” Brenchley said. “A lot of guys stepped up tonight. Our line was perfect tonight. They gave Tristan a lot of time to throw and gave me holes to run through. Our new fullback, K.J. Reese, is just a sophomore, but he came up from the JV team, learned our offense and did a great job.”
Hartnett did not complete a pass in the second half, but Cortland defensive back Jay Hartnett thwarted two potential touchdown passes in the same drive by batting the ball away for the Homer receiver.
“We really got back to the fundamentals,” Jay Hartnett explained. “We moved the defensive ends out to contained Brenchley and we switched to a strong side coverage. That had me covering Talon and Will (Connery) more. I was able to get a good read on the throws and reacted.”
The Trojans converted their third-down plays (6-for-10) much better while the Tigers were just 1-for-7. As a result, Homer finished with 315 yards in total offensive yards to 227 for Cortland.
Classy bunch of Hall of Famers
They were true pioneers, these two newcomers to the Homer Central Hall of Fame inducted Friday evening at Butts Field.
When Sharon Crandall Shattuck and Kerry Wagner Ziegler were displaying their athletic prowess at their alma mater, the opportunities for girls in the world of scholastic sports were still emerging.
Shattuck and Crandall shared the Hall of Fame spotlight with others during halftime festivities at the Cortland-Homer football game. They took bows with past four-sport star Larry Hubbard from the 1950s, retired baseball coach John Baden along with two of his best players in Steve Rainbow and Larry Brady, retired track coach Jerry Frare along with his lone state champion performer Jody Rawson, all-time lacrosse scoring leader Matt Riter and a dedicated sports contributor in the late Robert Grummons who provided a helping hand for years to the football program.
The lone women in this second Hall of Fame class stood alone, too.
“Girls sports has come a long ways,” said Shattuck, who was a two-time field hockey most valuable player in 1976 and ’77 while also earning national All-America honors in both seasons. “They ‘re getting respect now. There wasn’t respect for women’s sports back then.”
Shattuck’s field hockey coach, Barb Wood, was on hand to recall how the field hockey team practiced at the old microd race track in Homer with hand-me-down uniforms once worn by Trojan soccer players. When Shattuck played varsity for the first time as a freshman in 1974, it was also the first time outside of gym class that she had held a field hockey stick. There were no junior high or junior varsity feeder programs.
That makes Shattuck appreciative of her playing days, remembering the simple joy of sports.
“You played because you loved it and you played with your heart,” she said, having also been a gymnast and softball player in school.
Ziegler is the daughter of former Homer wrestling coach Dick Wagner — who was inducted into the first Hall of Fame class this past spring — and has heard the stories of her being carted to wrestling matches and tournaments in a play pen as an infant.
She grew up as one of the boys in the neighborhood, and was an eager participant. “They let us play, it was great,” she says.
From that athletic upbringing came a successful career in field hockey, volleyball, basketball and softball — back when girls could participate in four sports during a school year.
She was named Athlete in the Year in 1980 and was a first –team all-star and field hockey MVP.
“If it wasn’t for sports; it gives you such great life lessons,” said Ziegler. “You were only as good as your team, and sports taught you about sportsmanship. I played with a lot of good players.”
Both women are still involved in athletics. Shattuck helps coach on the Cortland YMCA Comets gymnastics team. One of Ziegler’s current duties is helping to organize the upcoming New York State Public High School Athletic Association volleyball championships that are moving to Glens Falls.
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