September 19, 2013
Crucial early showdown as Trojans tackle Bears
Friday Night Lights comes to Homer Central this week in a big Section 3 Class B West Division football clash.
A good-size crowd is expected at George Butts Field along with the Time Warner Cable television crew who will broadcast the game live as the 2-0 Trojans host the 1-1 Chittenango Bears.
It is also Youth Football Night so many of the future Homer football stars will be in attendance. The 7 p.m. kickoff will be important for both teams even though it is just the third week of the season.
“Chittenango will be hungry because they already have a league loss,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said, whose team is ranked No. 8 in this week’s Class B state poll. “There is a little intimidation factor with Time Warner here, but it is important that we play well to win.”
“This game has a lot on the line,” Chittenango coach Jack Hayes stated. “It really does have a playoff feel to it. It certainly is important to our playoff hopes and we’ll be ready to play.”
That sense of urgency for the visiting Bears comes from the 21-20 overtime loss to Westhill in the season opener. Chittenango rolled to a 48-0 win over Phoenix last week to improve to 1-1.
Sophomore tailback Drew Flack (5-feet-11, 173 pounds) rushed for 162 yards and one touchdown against the Firebirds. Senior fullback Conor Mills (5-10, 180), senior tailback Corey Benn (5-9, 150) and junior tailback Dan Brazeau (5-6, 140) also ran for touchdowns while senior quarterback Matt Cretaro (5-9, 150) tossed scoring strikes to senior tight end Bill Strodel (5-11, 165) and senior wingback Josh Cretaro (5-7, 137), his brother.
Make no mistake, Chittenango has multiple weapons to chose from in the I-formation or Shotgun.
“They can give you so many looks,” Podsiedlik said. “They are a lot like us on offense and defense. They run a very good traditional counter trey package that includes the off-side guard and tackle pulling for the runner. They can also run reverses and they test you to stay at home on defense,
“They are a little more balanced between the run and pass this season because of Matt Creataro,” he added. “He doesn’t get rattled quickly at quarterback.”
“We do have more choices at running back and each guy can be effective when we decide what is needed in a certain situation,” Hayes said. “Mills, Benn, Flack and Josh Cretaro can all carry the ball effectively. We don’t have a feature back.They are all capable. It really is a lot like Homer and its run game this year.”
What helps makes this offense run is this offensive line that features senior Brett Buyea (6-6, 270) at left tackle, senior Jon Guignard (5-11, 200) at left guard, junior Justin Cox (6-1, 210) at center, senior Casey Placito (5-11, 235) at right guard and senior Jason Randall (6-2, 220) at right tackle. The senior split end is Jordan Sass (6-1, 181).
“Chittenango has a good offensive line and there are not as many two-way starters as in the past,” Podsiedlik said.
“”We have a bigger roster (45) than in recent years,” Hayes said. “Because of our recent success, we got more of those guys that were on the fence in previous years. We have guys that want to be part of a successful program. We have a lot of new faces, so we are shuffling the deck a bit, but it gives us more options.”
Like Homer, Chittenango also has a 3-5 base look on defense led by senior Mitch Mahosky (5-11, 145) at nose guard. The rotation on the rest of the defensive line will include Guignard, Placito, senior Ryan Carey (5-11, 190) and senior Nick Harrington (6-0, 190). Mills is the middle linebacker, Flack is the Sam (strong inside) and Cox is the Will (weak inside) linebackers with Sass the left outside and Benn the right outside linebackers. Josh Cretaro is the left cornerback, Matt Cretaro the right cornerback and sophomore Akira Gatewood (5-10, 145) or sophomore Matt Milliman 95-11, 145) will play at safety.
As for special teams, Milliman is the PAT/field goal kicker, Mills is the punter and Brazeau handles the kick-off duties.
“Turnovers will be key to winning Friday night,” Hayes said. “We want to force Homer to make mistakes and give us extra opportunities to score. We need to contain them on offense.
“This game is for bragging rights,” he added. “I don’t believe you’ll see a lot of trickery. We both have teams that like to be physical from the start of the game and neither will back down. It should good old-fashion smash-mouth football.”
“We need to be more balanced on offense,” Podsiedlik said. “Our running backs need to carry out their fakes better, hit the line of scrimmage better, to make our play-action passing game work. We need to force those defensive guys to tackle the ball carrier when he doesn’t have the ball.
“We need to be physical,” he continued. “We need to see the all and attack it. Look to force turnovers. When they do pass, we need to get good reactions and hit the receivers quickly so they don’t get extra yards.”
TROJAN TIDBITS: Homer holds a 10-7 series record against Chittenango. The last Trojan win was a 21-70 victory in 2010. The last Bears’ have won the last two meeting including a 42-0 romp last year in Chittenango...Blue Collar Award winners were Dylan Hotchkiss (line) and Gage Root (non-line). Root had an additional honor this week. His sack of Skaneateles quarterback Tyler Parr was NewsChannel 9’s Hot Play of the Week has voted on by the station’s viewers....Jake Hayes is the game captain for the Skaneateles game.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe