September 25, 2009
Local boys face tough teams
Homer hosts state-ranked Westhill at Butts
It’s still early in the Section 3 Football Conference Class B West Division season, but Homer Central is facing its biggest test of the season.
The Trojans (2-1) are coming off a tough 20-13 victory at Solvay while tonight’s opponent, Westhill (3-0), is arriving to George Butts Field off an equally rugged 13-10 win over Marcellus. Both the Trojans and Warriors are 1-0 in division play and the only two remaining unbeaten teams in the division. Technically, Skaneateles (0-3) is also undefeated in B West play, but the Lakers have not played a division foe until Solvay tonight.
Westhill comes into the game ranked 10th in the latest New York State Class B poll. They had dominating wins over Phoenix, 37-0, and Chittenango, 31-0, but needed a touchdown in the final three minutes to defeat the stubborn Mustangs last Friday.
“We didn’t play well last week, but still won,” Westhill coach Gary Griffo said. “The main thing is we are 3-0 and that’s a good start to your season.
“We have four returning starters on offense and four returning starters on defense,” he continued. “We simply adjust our offense based on what we do have and what we don’t have. When you have three good receivers back in Dan Ross, Nate Nigolian and Tom Fisher, you are fortunate.”
“He has a lot of talent,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik countered. “They have a solid offensive line that allows them to do a lot of things. The run from the I-formation, Delaware and shotgun. There are very good counter and trap plays, plus they have a good power running game.
“On defense,” he continued. “Westhill relies on their athleticism. They still play the standard 4-3, but Ross is really a spy at safety. He can help cover the pass and close the hole quickly to stop the run. He reacts to the play very quickly.”
Senior Jeff Law (5-foot-9, 160 pounds) is the quarterback for the high-powered Westhill offense. He has completed 23-of-43 passing attempts for 359 yards. Senior Ross (6-2, 210) has 13 catches for 223 yards with five touchdowns scored and junior Nigolian (6-2, 175) has three catches for 67 yards are the wide outs. Senior tight end Fisher (6-7, 250) can catch the ball, but he is also a very solid blocker.
Senior Tyler Nigolian (5-10, 170) leads the B West rushers with 39 carries for 306 yards and four touchdowns. Senior Kevin Wilson (5-10, 190) is the punishing fullback. He has 22 carries for 126 yards.
The Warrior offensive line consists of senior Dave Chini (5-10, 170) at center, juniors Matt Trendowski (6-1, 210) and Joshua Wilton (6-1, 230) are the guards with seniors Stephen Olney (6-4, 240) and Josh Davoli (6-5, 280) at the tackles.
Defensively, Westhill has junior Jalen Robinson (6-3, 200) and senior John Dillon (6-4, 210) at the ends with Fisher and Davoli at the tackles. Wilson is the middle linebacker with Trendowski and senior Dave Brusa (5-10, 190) on the outside, Nate Nigolian and senior Mike Fagan (5-9, 185) are the cornerbacks with Ross and junior Mark McAaney (5-10, 165) at safety.
THE HOMER OFFENSE continues to put points of the board with senior John Sciera at the controls. Sciera has completed 39-of-71 attempts for 599 yards and seven touchdowns. The receiving has been spread around between junior tight end Zach Hatfield (12 catches-220 yards, 2 TDs), junior wide out Hunter Osborne (11-136 3 TDs) and junior flanker Connor Ferrito (7-110, 2 TDs). Junior tailback Logan Hall will return this week. Hall has rushed 39 times for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
Osborne at the X and Ferrito as the starting Z on offense are giving the Trojans some flexibility on offense and defense. Junior Cody Sandy remains at one cornerback and senior Jaydon Kiernan has continued to improve and will now start at the other corner. That frees up senior Demitrius Nelson, also returning after a week off, to move to safety and give Sciera a rest. It also allows Sciera to concentrate on the offensive side of the ball with Kiernan giving Ferrito the same edge.
“We now have 18 different. players on offense and defense which means just three guys are going both ways,” Podsiedlik said.
The keys to victory are short and straightforward for both coaches.
“We have to concentrate on not making mistakes,” Griffo stated. “Gary does a great job at Homer. His teams execute well on offense and defense. Right now, everything we have seen on tape show his guys are all on the same page. We need to hold down their offense.”
“We need to continue to make things happen on defense,” Podsiedlik said. “we need to be physical and not give up any big plays. We also need to execute on the offensive line. If we do that. we’ll move the ball and put points on the board.”
TROJAN TIDBITS: Homer enjoys an 11-4 edge in the all-time series, but Westhill has been the dominant team recently. The Warriors have won the last three years, including a 51-13 triumph in 2008. The last Trojan win was a 14-0 victory in the 2005 Section 3 championship season...There was no Player of the Game Award from the Solvay game as it was another solid team effort. The Practice Player of the Week and game captain for Westhill is John McCall. Blue Collar Awards presentations were give to Zerek Zimmerman (non-line) and Tyler McMullen (line)...One special thing happened at the end of practice Thursday. In honor of all his years of service to Homer football and his recent induction into the Athletic Hall of Fame, Dave Boyland, was presented a game ball from the Cortland game and he spoke to the team for a few minutes.
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