September 21, 2012
Purple Tigers can focus just on Caz
Cortland High football coach Dave Darrow will get to deal with his team under normal circumstances this week leading up to Saturday’s non-league game at Cazenovia in a 2 p.m. start.
The Purple Tigers have been involved in a televised season-opener (a 16-6 opening loss to visiting Homer Central), a field dedication (a 27-6 win at Solvay on Sept. 7) and last Friday in their Homecoming game that featured a 13-0 blanking of Westhill.
“We’ve been looking forward to a little less drama and action,” Darrow said earlier this week. “It’s always hard to concentrate during Homecoming week with the powderpuff game, the pep rally and everything else after a field dedication and a TV game before that. This week is just a game at Cazenovia. It will be great.”
Still, Darrow knows that his team has a rugged assignment ahead and what it will have to do if it hopes to win.
“We can’t make mistakes. We have to be better with penalties,” Darrow said, his team flagged 13 times for 100 yards in a 13-0 win over Westhill after being whistled 16 times for 140 yards against Solvay. “We also have to protect the football. Wwe’ve had 10 fumbles (losing eight) in three games. We have to play a clean game. They have a huge line and we’re pretty quick. I think it will be a good game.
“Cazenovia is a good football team, and we’re not going to beat them unless we stop making mistakes. They’re solid both ways as well as on special teams and are opportunistic; they score lots of points off of their opponents’ turnovers. ”
Both teams come in with 2-1 overall records. While Cortland is 1-1 in the Class B West Division, Cazenovia is 2-0 in the Class B East. The Lakers opened with a 48-6 win over visiting Vernon-Verona-Sherrill and, last week, blanked host Oneida 19-0. In between was a 22-20 loss at Class A Jamesville-DeWitt.
“That loss was possibly the best thing for this team,” Cazenovia coach Tom Neidl said. “A lot of times our crossovers early in the season have been easy. This one was obviously far from that, and gave the kids a taste of what’s to come down the road. Sooner or later they’ll have their backs up against the wall, in a dogfight, and the J-D game was prefect in giving the a taste of what’s to come down the road.”
“They play power football on offense but can run out of the spread pretty well,” Darrow said of Caz. “They play a 4-3 defense with four big down linemen — they have big lines with good strength on both sides of the ball, just good solid kids — and are well-coached. They know what they’re doing.”
“Cortland is a very physical and quick team,” Neidl said. “We’re going to have to make sure that we play very solid defense and do a solid job of our assignments on offense. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t concentrate on one facet of the game and ignore something else. You have to be well-rounded.
“We vary between a two-back I set and a spread set on offense, where we’re pretty well-balanced. with a decent group of returning linemen and returning running backs who have done a good job. We have half our defensive starters back and we use a 4-3 set. I think our defense learned from the J-D game a little and will do a good job of being solid.”
In addition to the Lakers’ linemen, Darrow also specifically cited 5-11, 158-pound senior quarterback Alex Sullivan and senior running back Jake Wilson (5-8, 180) in talking about individuals who he feels stand out for Caz.
In addition to those two, Neidl is also high on junior running back Andrew Vogl (5-10, 182) and a quartet of receivers he says are “sharing the load” in seniors Mark Dewan (5-11, 150), Cullen Franz (6-0, 150), Joe Colligan (6-0, 160) and Chad Warren (6-2, 174). He also praised senior offensive linemen Matt Staiger (6-2, 245) and Cameron Braathen 6-3, 295).
Staiger and Braathen were also cited by their coach as components of a sold defensive front line that also includes senior Patrick Cunningham (6-3, 250) and junior Cody Westfall (6-2, 300). Neidl also mentioned senior linebackers Nick Bobbett (5-9, 190) and Billy Bigsby (6-2, 150) as defensive stalwarts and added that he rotates a lot of players into what he calls “a secondary by committee.”
Senior tailback Andrew Potter continues to lead the Purple Tigers in rushing with 358 yards on 49 carries (7.3 yards a carry) and two touchdowns. Junior quarterback Caden Giroux has completed 5-of-12 passes for 11 yards and three TDs. Senior Pat McMahon has three catches for 100 yards and senior Kody Cranston two grabs for 74 yards and two TDs as the top receivers.
Wilson leads Cazenovia’s ground game with 413 yards on 42 carries (9.8 yards per carry) and four TDs. Sullivan has completed 9-of-24 passes for 123 yards and one TD; his top receivers are Dewan, with two catches for 35 yards, and 5-9, 150-pound senior Ryan Cook, with two grabs for 27 yards. Five more players have one catch each, including Franz with a 27-yard TD on a pass from Wilson in last week’s 19-0 win over Oneida.
Darrow said that senior two-way lineman Kevin Parker, senior linebacker-running back Colin Walsh and senior wide receiver-cornerback Matt Kriever will return for Cortland this week after missing the Westhill game due to injuries. Sophomore running back-cornerback-kick returner Solomon Pittman sat out that contest with injuries as well and will also miss Saturday’s game, according to Darrow. Cazenovia is pretty well intact, with just a few minor injuries, according to Neidl.
Darrow said that winning two games in a row has helped the Purple Tigers’ morale, noting that “We’ve had good practices this week and are getting a little better all the time. We have to stop the penalties, a lot of which have come from trying too hard.”
THE DIRECTIONS to Cazenovia, as found on the Cortland High athletic department website, are as follows: Take Route 81 north to the LaFayette exit (15). Turn left and at the next light turn right onto Route 20 East and follow it into Cazenovia. At the first stop light in the village (junction of Routes 20 and 13), turn left and continue straight through the next light onto Foreman Street. Turn right onto Emory Avenue and the school is on your left.
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