September 28, 2006


First place showdown

Homer visits Westhill Friday in clash of unbeatens


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Quarterback Tristan Hartnett leads Homer Central into Friday’s game at Westhill. Both teams are unbeaten.

Staff Writer

The biggest game to date is waiting for Homer Central Friday night when the undefeated Trojans travel to Westhill to face the undefeated Warriors.
The 6:30 p.m. Section 3 Football Conference clash between the two 4-0 teams — both 3-0 in league play — will give the winner a top spot in the B West standings and should nearly secure home field advantage for at least two rounds of the playoffs.
The game is also a battle for a pair of state-ranked teams as Westhill is ranked 12th in the latest New York State Sportswriters Association Class B pool while Homer holds down the 15th spot in the poll. The Trojans are the defending Class B champion while Westhill took top Section 3 Class B honors in both 2003 and 2004.
Both teams are similar in many ways and each has a standout tailback. The Trojans have 5-foot-8, 160 lb. senior Mark Brenchley, who is coming off a school-record 322 yard rushing performance. Brenchley has 1,075 all-purpose yards when you factor in receiving yards, kickoff return and punt return yards. He is also among the leaders on defense in tackles and sacks (7.3).
The Warriors counter with 5-9, 185-pound junior Dale Ross, who has 652 rushing yards and 78 carries and 900-plus all-purpose yards. Statistically, Brenchley is number one in yards with Ross number two in B West while Ross is tops in scoring points (58) with Brenchley (54) second.
“Both teams are very similar in many ways,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “Each team has a good quarterback, a very good running back and respectable fullbacks. The receivers, linebackers and secondaries each have strong and weak points as well.
“Westhill is a very good team and this will really be a great game for fans to watch.”
“Homer is very good,” Westhill coach Gary Griffo stated. “Gary and his staff always have their teams well-prepared. Homer always plays with a lot of heart and desire. They never quit and always keep coming at you.”
One big change is the attitude at Westhill. One year ago, Westhill was 1-3 coming into the Homer game. It is a totally different scenario in 2006.
“Our team chemistry is so much better,” Griffo said. “It started in the off-season. The guys began working harder and they carried throughout the summer. The confidence grew, the closeness of the players improved and the team chemistry_carried over into the start of the 2006 season.”
With all the similarities, there is one area that both coaches also agree on could be the biggest key to winning Friday night.
“The offensive line may be a little bit stronger, so that might give Homer an edge,” Griffo says.
“I think the play at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball could be the biggest deciding factor in the game,” Podsiedlik added.
“The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win this game,” Griffo predicted.
Podsiedlik countered, “The team that can capitalize the best of the other team’s mistakes will certainly have an advantage.”
Westhill runs a Delaware Wishbone form of offense with many multiple formations.
“We have some quality skill players, so we try to take advantage of them all,” Griffo said. “We don’t do one particular thing.”
 “Westhill gives you many different looks,” Podsiedlik stated. “They have a toss and power-toss play with the split back look. From the I-formation, they will run the blast, sweep and fullback trap. They even use some shotgun formations with three and four-receiver looks.
“We have a lot to recognize this week. It will be the kids’ job to know the formations and what could happen. The coaching staff will help shout-out possible options from each formations.”
While with Ross, who could line-up anywhere, depending on the play called, the Warriors have more weapons in the backfield. The quarterback is senior Dan Fetter (5-9, 170), senior Eric Dwyre (5-6, 180) is the fullback while junior Matt Noonan (5-11, 170) and senior Joe Epstein (5-8, 160) rotate at the Z-back. The key wide receivers are senior Jim Ross (6-4, 187) and junior Jake Burgess (6-2, 170). Sometimes they will be on the field at the same time. Fetter has completed 28-of-40 passing attempts for 438 yards while Burgess having nine receptions for 244 yards. Jim Ross has caught five passes for 101 yards.
The three key linemen are sophomore right tackle Ben Johnson (5-7, 270), senior left tackle Brett Leonard (6-0, 255) and senior left guard Lee Myers (6-2, 247).
Defensively, Westhill uses a 4-3 base, but Coach Podsiedlik would not be surprised to see the Warriors use more 5-3 looks, which thy have successfully used in the past.
Junior Tom Trendowski (6-3, 230) and sophomore Dave Grace (5-11, 195) are the ends with tackles (gap-jumpers) being Dwyre and Leonard. The three main linebackers are senior Joe Bright, senior Steve White (5-9, 175) and senior Nick Coss (5-10, 190). The cornerbacks are junior Jesse Crell and sophomore Mike DeCarr (6-0, 185) with Noonan and Epstein at the safeties.
“To be successful, we will need to put pressure on their passing game,” Podsiedlik said. “We also need to be a threat running and throwing_the ball.”
Trojan Tidbits: Mark Brenchley received A Pizza & More Most Outstanding Player Award honors. Joe Riley and Justin Hartnett was the Practice Player of the Week for Solvay. Blue Collar Awards went to K.J. Reese (non-line) and Mike DiOrio (line).. Homer holds an 11-1 advantage in the series against the Warriors. Homer won 14-0 at SUNY Cortland in 2005, 14-6 at Westhill in 2004 and a wild 34-30 shootout at Homer in 2003.. For those of you looking to drive to the game Friday night, here are the directions provided by the Homer Central Web site. Take Interstate 81 north to the Nedrow Exit 11. Turn left on Route 11 to the Seneca Turnpike (Route 173). Turn left on Route 173 and go up the hill past the Community General Hospital. Follow Route 173 as it bears to the right and turn right onto Velasko Road. Go several miles down the hill to Grand Avenue. Turn left on Grand Avenue and continue to the high school, which will appear on the left side on the highway.



Toughest test awaits Purple Tigers

Staff Writer

With football teams headed in opposite directions, Cortland High coach Jim Brown and Kevin DeParde, the head man at East Syracuse-Minoa, have vastly different concerns about Friday’s 6:30 p.m. Section 3 Class A American contest.
While the Purple Tigers are 0-2 in league play and 0-4 coming into the game at ES-M, the Spartans (accorded honorable mention in this week’s state Class A poll) have won three straight games. All three have been league affairs since a season-opening non-league loss to Geneva, the fifth-ranked Class B team in the state.
“They’re an outstanding team, I think the best we’ve played this year,” Brown said of ES-M. “They have a senior-dominated lineup with good size and are good at the skill positions. Really, there are no weaknesses — they’re strong in all areas of the game.
“This team is on another level. I’m impressed with the way that they’ve gotten it turned around,” he added. “They struggled for a few years, but have good players and are doing things right over there. They’re one of the largest A schools, significantly larger than us.”
ES-M has 20 seniors on its 41-player roster, while a total of seven seniors are among CHS’s_27 players.
“We’re at the point where we focus on us as far as getting better,” DeParde said. “Cortland’s offense shows a lot to prepare for, so you have to pick and choose what you spend time on in practice. Their two best players seem to be number one (senior end Kaywon Pittman) and number 23 (senior halfback Brian Benford). One thing I’ve noticed is that they don’t quit. All of the sudden they’ll have a big play. That unpredictability scares me.
“We have a pretty focused group of kids, and we’re honest with them. We have a lot of returnees, and they felt that they underachieved last season,” he said, as ES-M tied Fulton for the league title in 2005 but lost it because the Red Raiders beat them head-to-head. “They’ve come in with higher expectations, but now we have to guard against overconfidence. It’s easy top pull back or lay off, and once that happens it’s a long road back. It happened to us last year when we lost the New Hartford in the first round of sectionals.”



CHS runs past visiting Trojans

“It always seems to be an exciting race day when we go against Homer,” Cortland High cross country coach Bob Vidulich said after Wednesday’s OHSL Freedom Division match-up between the two on the Purple Tigers’ home course, with Fulton also thrown into the mix.
This year proved to be no different, as the Cortland girls shaded previously unbeaten Homer 27-28 and the CHS boys beat the Trojans 20-41.
Both Cortland teams also bested Fulton, the girls by 17-42 and the boys by 20-39, while Homer’s girls downed Fulton 17-38 and the Fulton boys beat Homer 24-35.
Margaret Knight set the pace for Cortland, out-kicking Homer’s Heather Wilson to win the race in 21:21 to Wilson’s runner-up 21:24.
“Margaret ran a very tough race against Heather and edged her in a strong kick to the finish,” Vidulich said. “All the girls pulled together real well. Deanna Bishop, who took third (22:40), is running real tough, while Kristina Endler (sixth, 24:06), Cassie Clark (ninth, 24:42) and eight-grader Jen Merckel (10th, 25:41) passed Homer’s Caitlin Baldassarre (11th, 26:00) to bring home the one-point margin of victory.”
The close finish also came about because Homer’s Laura Niederhofer was fourth in 23:04, just ahead of teammate Jessica Bramhall (fifth, 23:26), while the Trojans’ Megan Harmon was eighth in 24:32. Erin Hudson was Fulton’s top finisher, taking seventh in 24:08. 
“Heather ran very comfortable and smoothly, but could not overtake a strong kick from Margaret Knight,” Homer coach Jim Baldwin said. “Each of our girls ran a very good race and it was exciting to watch. The team is very thin, but the girls showed lots of heart in a tough loss.
“Laura has been fighting laryngitis and possibly strep throat, but ran a good race. Caitlyn ran ill as well to make sure we had a complete team. Jessica ran well fighting an asthma attack down the stretch and Megan ran her best race of the year, looking very relaxed.”
The Cortland girls are now 2-2 in the league and overall, while Homer is now 3-1.
l In the boys’ varsity race, Homer’s Ryan Sullivan was the overall winner in 19:02, nine seconds ahead of runner-up T.J. Rosetti from Cortland. The Purple Tigers’ Sam Narby was third in 19:34, with Brendan Schreiner fifth in 20:14, Geoff Peppel seventh in 20:30 and Mike O’Donnell eighth in 20:42.
Homer’s Andrew Gregg was 10th in 21:02, while James McKenna took 13th in 21:14, Ross Pouliot 20th in 21:49 and Jackson Randolph 24th in 22:15. In addition, Micah Brown was 32nd in 24:32 and Josh Bergmark 35th in 26:27.
Fulton was paced by Jason Plato, who took fourth in 20:01.