September 28, 2007


Another top runner to test CHS


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Junior Quarterback A.J. Meldrim will direct the Cortland High offense tonight against Class C, state-ranked Mt. Markham.

Staff Writer

Another week, another state-ranked opponent with a shiny record and a standout running back set to go against the Cortland High football team.
Having gone 1-3 so far this season in the Section 3 Class A American Division, the Purple Tigers journey to West Winfield tonight to face Mt. Markham, currently 3-0 atop the Class C East standings, 4-0 overall and the eighth-ranked Class C team in the state.
The Mustangs are coming off a 41-35 win over visiting Adirondack last week in which 6-3, 205-pound senior tailback Luke Phillips set a school record with 354 yards on 19 carries and scored six touchdowns. So far this season, Phillips has rushed for 1,118 yards on 79 carries (14.2 yards per carry) with 15 TDs.
“I think Phillips looks about as good as Cushing, in fact a little faster,” Cortland coach Dave Darrow said in reference to East Syracuse-Minoa tailback Matt Cushing, who picked up 290 yards on 35 carries and scored three TDs last Friday as the undefeated Spartans (ranked fifth in the state in Class A) beat host CHS 26-10. “Phillips is a Class A-caliber runner. Any team in our league would be happy to have him. He has good vision and cuts across the grain well. You can tell he’s been playing with most of the guys on that team for a long time.
“Their quarterback, Josh Deming (6-2, 2-5 senior) is pretty good, and so are the fullback, Matt Casale (5-11, 175 sophomore) and the receivers, Kyle Maxson (6-0, 185 senior) and Matt Kenyon (6-2, 190 senior). They’re an I team with man in motion. Usually they just give it to 26 (Phillips) and will pull a guard down to block or use the fullback sometimes. They also run a little bit of the spread option. Deming runs at the defensive end and, depending on how he reacts, can either pitch it or keep going himself.”
The key for Cortland will obviously be to shut down Phillips on defense as well as controlling the ball offensively to keep him from getting his hands on it.
“We have to be able to run off-tackle, and play power football, smashing it at them and keeping the ball,” Darrow said. “We’ll probably only throw four or five times in the game. If we can’t run the ball, we’re not going to win. Defensively they go with a four-man front most of the time, but sometimes they go with six men, when they walk the linebackers up for six. If they play four, we’ll trap them, and we’ll be ready for six, too.”
Mt. Markham, a combination of students from the former West Winfield, Leonardsville and Bridgewater districts, was a powerhouse in the 1970s, ‘80s and early ‘90s in the Center State Conference under legendary coach Don Zuhlke. The Mustangs went 7-2-1 and shared a sectional title in 1992, Zuhlke’s last campaign, and then went 11 years without a winning season. They were 6-3 in 2004, and have qualified for the sectional playoffs in each of the last two seasons under former Mustang Rich Waite, now in his fourth season as head coach and with a 21-8 record heading into Friday’s contest.
“The 17 seniors we have on this team have actually been playing together since Pop Warner, 10 or 11 years,” Waite said. “The thing about Luke is that his field vision is so much better. He was our starting tailback last year, and was a good running back, but he didn’t make the moves he has this season. And he’s getting better every game. Deming is a good quarterback as well as our leading tackler (at defensive end), and we have a decent offensive line.
“Cortland looks to me to have a strong passing game and a good running game, and they look pretty quick. Plus they’re in a Class A league, which is lots different from Class C; everyone seems a little faster. We’ll have to keep our kids healthy, and be able to run the ball. We’ll also have to be able to throw when we want to and not be dictated to as to when we have to throw. We’ll need to limit our mistakes, and our special teams will have to play well.”
The way the crossover schedule fell this season puts Cortland in a no-win situation, according to Darrow. “They’re a good team; how do we get so lucky?” he said with the kind of laugh that indicated he didn’t think the situation is all that humorous. “We can’t even get a break on our crossover. We have to leave at 3:30 to get there, so our whole routine is messed up, and we have everything to lose and nothing to gain. If we win, everyone will look at it like ‘You’re a Class A team, you should be able to beat a Class C team.’ If we lose, then everyone thinks we’re the worst team there is.
“But we need a win to help us have good practices going into our last two league games, against Jamesville-DeWitt (on the road Oct. 5) and Fowler (at home Oct. 12). If we win out, we can be over .500 in our seven scheduled games.”
One plus for CHS is the fact that virtually a full complement of players will be available to go against Mt. Markham. “We’ll have enough people,” Darrow said. “We’ll have whatever we need.”
Junior fullback Josh Morehouse is Cortland’s leading rusher with 116 yards on 36 carries (3.22 yards per carry) and two TDs. Junior quarterback A.J. Meldrim has completed 31-of-60 passes (.517) for 352 yards, two TDs and seven interceptions. Junior tailback Brandon Fitzgerald is the leading receiver, having caught seven passes for 113 yards (16.14) and one TD. 




Westhill booters cool off Trojans

Staff Writer

With a little help from Mother Nature, Westhill did a couple of things to Homer Central boys on George Butts Field Thursday night.
The first-place Warriors became the first soccer team to score a first-half goal against the Trojans in 2007 and, when the game halted for good with 10:38 left on the clock, Westhill was the first team to hold Homer scoreless all season.
Officials called the game after a one-hour delay due to lightning at 9 p.m., because weather conditions — including more lightning — were not going to improve.
With the 1-0 victory, state-ranked Westhill improved to 8-0 in OHSL Liberty Division play and 9-1 overall. Homer slipped to 5-2-1, 6-2-2 overall, and had an unbeaten streak of eight games snapped. Homer went 6-0-2 over that stretch, giving up only three goals.
“This was our second tough game with Homer this season,” said Westhill coach Roland Ficken referring to the 3-2 overtime win in the season opener. “Dave (Shiffman) has done a real good job with his kids. They defend very, very well. I was told that Homer has now only given up seven goals all season and four of them are to us.
“We attack and defend well,” Ficken added. “Homer defends very well. They need a little more help on top. Paul Armideo is a good player, but sometimes he will get caught up there by himself. Still, the Homer team has really come a long way.”
“Roland and I were thinking the same thing,” said Homer coach Dave Shiffman. “We were talking about this during the rain delay. We were going to change our attack. We were going to bring some of the big guys up top, because he really does not matter if you lose 1-0 or 2-0. We were going to try to win the game. We were going to go with three guys in the back. I did not want to slight the guys that are there now because they are doing a good job. There are younger guys and we were thinking about some bigger, stronger guys on top.
“Westhill moved better as a unit of 10,” Shiffman added. “We moved the ball at times, but had trouble with the transition from offense to defense and defense to offense.”
THE ONLY GOAL of the game came off a well-designed set play off a free kick. Aaron Hunt started the play 27 yards from the Homer goal. Hunt struck the ball on the ground to the right of the Homer defensive wall and towards the right post. Tim Murphy caught up to the ball near the end line, drawing goalkeeper Derrick McCall towards him. At the last second, Murphy pushed the ball towards the front of the goal and, before the Trojan defense could react, a sliding Matt Kavanaugh pushed the ball into the net with 17 seconds left in the first half.




Purple Tigers play well in loss

The Cortland High field hockey carried the play against visiting Weedsport Thursday afternoon, and it showed — everywhere but on the scoreboard.
Weedsport had the edge there, coming up with a 1-0 Onondaga High School League victory.
“We dominated the whole game, and did an excellent job of controlling midfield,” Purple Tigers coach Jamie Brown said. “We limited their scoring opportunities. It was a tough loss to take. It was by far our best effort of the season. If we can play more games like that, we can really do some damage.”
Brown cited senior outside back Callie Hull for the job she did marking Katie Loperfido, one of Weedsport’s top scorers, and also singled out senior Janelle Stegeland and junior Andrea Turcsik for their play at midfield.
The only goal of the game, which was delayed a half-hour by lightning and thunder in the first half, was scored by the Warriors’ Allison Beardsley with 13:48 left in the contest. “She took control of a through ball at the 35, we missed a couple of tackles, at the 35 and the top of the circle, and she went in alone and scored,” Brown said.
The goal was one of three shots the Warriors (now 6-1 in the OHSL and 10-2 overall) took on CHS eighth-grade goalie Maggie Brown. The Purple Tigers (3-2-1 league, 3-3-1 overall) took nine shots, with Weedsport goalie Kaitlin Hammersley making seven saves.
CORTLAND JVs beat Weedsport 3-0, scoring as many goals in one half of play (the game was shortened to a half, split into two periods) as they had in their previous five games overall, including scoreless ties in their last two games. Christina Gutchess scored 1:57 into the game off an assist from Ashley Norton, who made it 2-0 with 3:56 left in the second off an assist by Julie Spaulding. Spaulding also notched an assist on then final tally 1:11 later, Eleanor Polly finding the back of the cage.