September 22, 2007


Trojans capture first victory

Opening kickoff return by Simonetta ignites 34-13 win over J-E


Rich Barnes/contributing photographer
Homer Central’s Brandon Simonetta (84), with help from teammate Mike Carboine (14) finds running room on the opening kickoff he returned 98 yards for a touchdown against Jordan-Elbridge.  Eagles Mat Simmons (98) and Ken Bush (14) give chase.

Staff Writer

Homer Central needed to make a statement.
With an 0-3 record, the Trojans returned to the friendly football confines of George Butts Field Friday and made that statement quickly with a record-setting performance of the very first play.
Homer junior Brandon Simonetta took the opening kickoff from Cameron Hemler, found a seam up the middle and raced 98 yards for a touchdown in just 16 seconds. That return sparked a strong Homer effort on both sides of the ball and the result was a 34-13 Section 3 Class B West Division win over Jordan-Elbridge (1-3).
Simonetta replaced the previous long KO return of 91 yards set by Jeff Austin against Marcellus in 1981.
“What was cool was Jeff congratulated Brandon after the game,” said Homer head coach Gary Podsiedlik.
After that, it was a solid team effort as the Trojans improved to 1-3 in the West Division. Junior quarterback Joey Rivers completed seven-of-15 passing attempts for 144 yards and two touchdown strikes to senior tight end Mike Carboine. Junior running back K.J. Reese rushed for 103 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries.
“We played like we were capable of tonight,” said Carboine. “The guys around me really helped. Joey threw me some nice balls. Our fullbacks and linemen did a great job blocking. Our tailbacks had some nice long runs. Defensively, we swarmed to the ball and made the plays. It was really a great team win tonight.”
“We talked about how we had not come out real intense in the first three games,” said Podsiedlik. “Tonight, the special teams were big. Our offense began to click and the defense was solid.
“This win was just what the doctor ordered,” Podsiedlik continued. “We won as a team. It was what the kids and the coaching staff needed. We have been trying hard and the kids saw tonight what happens when you stick together.”
“You cannot come out flat and give up a kick return like that,” said J-E head coach Mike Smart. “That is a momentum builder, but I still thought that we were right with them as we only trailed 13-7 late in the half. Giving up the third touchdown late in the half did not help, but I still thought we were in the game.
“Unfortunately, we had no answers for their big tight end,” Smart continued, Carboine a handful for the Eagles with four catches covering 112 yards. “We had guys around him, but we could not make the plays on him. The real truth of the matter was that Homer came to play tonight and we did not show up. When we got down by three touchdowns, we did not have the courage to come back. The intensity was the difference.”
After Simonetta opened the scoring, the Homer defense held the Eagles to three downs and punt. Rivers engineered a five-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped by a 14-yard pass to Carboine, who made a one-handed catch in the end zone for six points with 8:31 left in the first quarter for a 13-0 lead after the failed conversion kick.
Jordan-Elbridge got on the board with 49 seconds left in the quarter as Joe Poppe (21 carries-112 yards) raced 75 yards on the first play of scrimmage for the touchdown. Cameron Hemler added the extra point as the Trojan lead was trimmed to 13-7.
Homer had one more good scoring drive stopped with 7:28 left in the first half when Mitch Merrill intercepted a Rivers pass at the Eagles one and returned it 38 yards.
Talon Sprouse pinned J-E deep in its own territory with a 33 yards punt that Richard Benesch could not return as he was tackled at his own nine-yard line. Hemler was forced to punt on fourth down from the 17, but his rushed punt attempt was shanked out-of-bounds three yards behind the line of scrimmage and Homer took possession at the Eagle 14 with 1:35 on the clock.
An illegal procedure penalty negated a Rivers to Kane Hartnett touchdown pass and an illegible receiver downfield penalty also proved costly, but Rivers was not through. On fourth down, Rivers found Carboine open and hit his 6-foot-5 target for another touchdown as the Trojans led 19-7 with 22 seconds left in the half.
Jordan-Elbridge opened the second half with the ball, but went nowhere. On third down, K.J. Reese sacked quarterback James Hohm for a six yards loss at the Eagle 20. On fourth down, Carboine blocked Hemler’s punt. The ball rolled into the end zone and Franco Giordano fell on the loose ball for the touchdown. The two-point conversion was good a Homer led 27-7 with 10:26 left in the quarter.
The Trojans closed out the quarter with a seven-play, 75-yard drive. Simonetta had two big runs, 12 yards and 26 yards, during the drive while Reese toted the pigskin four times, the final time for the touchdown from 15 yards out with 3:47 on the clock.
J-E scored the final points with 2:50 left in the game on a 58 yard run by Mitch Merrill.
The Trojans shuffled the offensive line around and the result was 223 rushing yards and 144 more yards in the air for 367 total yards in offense. Jake Duell became the starting center, Sean McSherry moved from center to left guard, Lance Graffius earned the start at right guard, moving Kyle Griffin to left tackle in place off Chris Crossway. Only Kyle Sandy remained in his starting right tackle spot.
“Our offensive line came together tonight,” said Sandy. “We made some switches and it worked out for the best. It was really nice to get the win. We really wanted to win this game tonight.”
Homer will return to action Friday as the Trojans host Phoenix for Homecoming at George Butts Field in a 7 p.m. Class B West contest.




Purple Tigers unable to slow up Cushing

Staff Writer

Matt Cushing, it turns out, is something of a master of understatement.
Not that you would know it from his performance on the football field, as he led visiting East Syracuse-Minoa to a 26-10 victory over Cortland High at Moiseichik Field. The 5-9, 175-pound senior tailback carried the ball 35 times for 290 yards and scored three touchdowns.
All told, the Spartans, now 3-0 in the Section 3 Class A American Division and overall, racked up 313 yards of total offense. The five other ES-M players that ran the ball gained a net four yards on 19 carries. In short, Cushing did it all against the Purple Tigers.
“This was my best game so far this year,” he said with a smile afterwards. “In the first half, our line was unstoppable. They were opening truck-sized holes for me. In the second half, I had to put the team on my back, and I did.”
And then some.
Cushing carried the ball 18 times for 176 yards in the first half, when he scored one TD, and lugged it 17 more times for 114 yards and two TDs in the second. His first second-half trip to the end zone, early in the fourth quarter, was huge for the Spartans, as the Purple Tigers had pulled to within 14-10 on a 21-yard field goal by Levi Walrath on the opening possession of the second half.    
The visitors then went on a 17-play, 59-yard drive on which Cushing carried the ball 11 times for 50 yards, including a one-yard plunge for the TD and all the breathing room ES-M would need. A key play in the drive, after a timeout, was a four-yard pickup, on fourth-and-two at the ES-M 49, by senior fullback Corey Gerace.
The game was something of an unfortunate convergence for the Purple Tigers. At the same time ES-M was getting the solid performance from Cushing, Cortland coach Dave Darrow and his staff implemented some new offensive wrinkles for use down the regular-season stretch that made the hosts look somewhat disjointed on offense at times.
“We couldn’t stop Cushing; he was a one-man team,” Cortland coach Dave Darrow said, his team now 1-3 in the league and overall. “We not that far away from being a good team. We put some new stuff in, like split backs, double tight ends, power I and power option, that caused some personnel problems because of new assignments.
“If we were going to be OK, and have a chance to win our last three games, we had to start (the changes) this week,” he added. “It had to be in a game, not just practice. If we’d stuck with what we were doing, maybe we would have scored one more TD. But the new stuff is the right stuff for us, and we’ll continue to improve.”




Saints do road split with VH

In an Empire State Christian Athletic League soccer showdown away from home Friday night, Cortland Christian Acadmey squads came away with a split against Valley Heights in Norwich.
In the boys’ nightcap, the Saints got two goals from Darren Miller in a 3-2 victory over Valley Heights. That came after Valley Heights girls scored the opening four goals before holding on to nip Cortland Christian 4-3.
Cincinnatus Christian Academy had an easier road trip, as the boys blanked Penn Yan Emmanuel 6-0 after the girls rolled to an 11-0 victory.
* Miller scored for the second time, breaking a 1-1 tie, with 45 seconds left in the opening half as Cortland Christian remained unbeaten with a 2-0 ESCAL and 4-0 overall record.
C.J. Burnett hiked the lead to 3-1 in the second half before Valley Heights (1-1) pulled to within a goal on Luke Halberg’s second tally of the game.
Valley Heights (1-1) grabbed a 4-0 lead six minutes into the second half on the Lady Saints (1-1 ESCAL, 3-1 overall), Hannah Vidler with two of those goals.
Cortland Christian came back starting with a long Danielle Kinney shot that nestled into the nets. And  Courtney Hall scored with 6:30 and 3:30 left to play.
*Cincinnatus Christian boys are now 2-3 after erupting for five goals in the second half to put away Emmanuel. Jordan Harris three goals and an assist, while Aaron Blanchard tallied twice to go along with three assists for the Eagles. Brandon Goodno also scored in the victory.
Emmanuel failed to get off a shot against Cincinnatus Christian girls (3-1-1), while Hannah McGowan led the Lady Eagles attack with three goals. Caitlyn Blanchard and Liz Perrott scored twice.