September 20, 2012


Trojans to visit Bears for Class B showdown

FootballBob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Central quarterback Casey Cleary (12) hands off to tailback Mark Dove (49) during a season-opening win at Cortland High. Homer travels to Chittenango on Friday night for an early-season Class B showdown of state-ranked unbeatens.

Staff Writer

This is the kind of mid-season match-up football fans look forward to every season, a battle of unbeaten and state-ranked Class B opponents.
On Friday night 11th-ranked Homer Central will travel to third-ranked Chittenango to decide who’s the best. Both teams are 2-0 in Section 3 Class B West Division play and 3-0 overall as the 7 p.m. kickoff approaches.
“We are looking forward to the challenge,” Chittenango coach Jack Hayes said. “Someone will separate themselves from the rest of the pack a little bit with a win.
“Homer comes in well-coached,” he added. “They have a great coaching staff and they always do the little things right that it takes to win. We will need to play our best football game of the season Friday night in order to win.”
“It’s simple, the winner moves into first place alone,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “The schedules allowed both of these teams time to work on things and prepare for this night. We have had some great games in the past and this should be a great game.
“Chittenango is very solid,” he continued. “They have the entire backfield returning. They have two quality receivers back and a reliable tight end who is also their kicker. They have key returning linemen on both sides of the ball. Chittenango has all the right pieces back and they are the most dangerous team we have faced yet.”
The Bears love the pro-set offense with I-formation and shotgun formations. The Bears are led by senior quarterback Devan Phelps (5-foot-10, 150 pounds) who can throw the ball (13-for-23 for 292 yards and three touchdowns), but is equally dangerous as a runner, based on his 10 carries for 115 yards and two TDs against Marcellus last week. Phelps has rushed for 142 yards on 14 carries to date.
“Devan Phelps is very underrated in my book,” Podsiedlik said. “To me, he is the best quarterback we will face. He’s a playmaker and very scrappy.”
Phelps has two solid backs behind him in senior fullback Joe Gilona (5-9, 200) and senior tailback Kyle Zimmer (5-10, 170). Gilona has carried the ball 32 times for 248 yards and four touchdowns. Zimmer has 217 yards and five touchdowns on 43 yards. Junior Connor Mills (5-10, 190) offers a change of pace. He has 26 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
“Team certainly can’t key on just one player,” Hayes said. “We have a three-headed monster with Devan, Kyle and Joe. We can throw the ball if we need to, but our strength is our ability to run the ball.”
When the Bears do throw, junior wideouts Josh Cretaro (5-8, 140) and Matt Cretaro (5-9, 155) can catch it, along with senior tight end Steve Billington (6-1, 190). Josh Cretaro leads the way with five catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Matt Cretaro and Billington each have three catches for 76 and 59 yards respectively. Cretaro has one TD catch.
The offensive line has junior left guard Jonathan Guignard (5-10, 220) and senior right tackle Aaron Jones (6-4, 230) back in 2012. They are joined by senior center Jonathon Simmons (6-2, 250), junior right guard Casey Placito (5-11, 240) and junior left tackle Brett Buyea (6-6, 285) in protecting Phelps and opening holes for the runners.
“Chittenango runs straight ahead, but they also have some very good counter treys and traps with the pulling linemen and good backs who can also block,” Podsiedlik said.
Defensively, Chittenango uses a odd-front with some 5-3 looks, but the Bears really are a lot like Homer with a base 3-5 set. Senior left tackle Brian Perriello (6-2, 190) is the mainstay of the three down linemen. Senior Cody Rupert (6-2, 305) and junior Mitch Mahosky (5-8, 160) rotate at nose guard while Jones and Placito rotate at right tackle. Zimmer and Mills are the outside linebackers with Gilona (Will), Billington (Sam) and Jones (Mike, middle) the inside backers. The Cretaro brothers are the cornerbacks with Phelps at safety.
Chittenango has a number of two-way players, which could give Homer’s depth on both lines and at linebacker advantage with more fresh legs available.
“I’d love to have 11 guys on offense and 11 guys on defense, but not many Class B schools can do that,” Hayes said. “I am going to have my best 11 guys on the field as much as possible. The guys that do come in will have to step up when they get their opportunities. We have been working on our conditioning since day one.”
“It could be,” Podsiedlik said of the question of whether depth will play a part in the outcome. “The thing is that everyone has to do their job when they are called on. You have a role and you need to execute. That’s what helps you be successful.”
Special teams always play a role and Billington can be a game changer. He often drills kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, and also has good range as a field goal kicker. Phelps is a dangerous return man and a solid punter for the Bears.
The keys to the game are offered by both coaches.
“Homer has a very good ground game,” Hayes said. “Our defense is geared to stop the run. If we can force them to pass the ball with longer yardage situations, that will be an advantage for us. We need to pressure them with our defense, but also stay home and read the keys carefully. We have to get off the ball and be physical. The team that wins the physical battle will win this football game.”
“We have to establish a physical advantage,” Podsiedlik said. “We have to play better on special teams. The team that can make the big play that changes the game will have the best chance to win this game.”
TROJAN TIDBITS: For those who wish to drive to the first-place showdown Friday, here are the direction per the district’s transportation department. Take Interstate 81 North to 481 North and take the Fayetteville Exit (3E) off 481N to Route 5 Route 5 East. Continue on Route 5 past Fayetteville and Chittenango Plaza (approx. 9 miles). The school and athletic fields will be on the left just before you reach the main part of the village...Homer holds a 10-6 edge in the all-time series, but the road team has won the last three encounters. The last Trojan win was 21-7 at Chittenango in 2012. Chittenango won 29-28 in overtime (2008) and 32-14 (2011) in Homer... The Blue Collar Awards were handed to Mark Dove (non-line) & Kyle Ritz (line) this week... The Game Captain based on game and practice performances will be Brandon Maxson... Dove leads the Trojan rushing attack with 301 yards and four touchdowns on 44 carries. Four other players (Maxson, Jayden Gavidia, Jake Casey, Jimmy Durkee) have all rushed for over 100 yards this season in the multi-back backfield.... Homer’s defense has forced 24 fumbles this season and recovered 14 of those in three games. Offensively, the Trojans have held the ball offensively for 81 minutes to 63 minutes for the opposition.


To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe