October 6, 2016
Section 3 Football Preview: Trojans, Bears battling for 1st
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Matt Guerrera of Homer has caught four touchdown passes and run for two TDs heading into Friday’s visit to Chittenango.
Homer Central is one step closer to another Section 3 Class B West football title heading into a huge final regular season road game Friday night.
The Trojans head to Chittenango for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff against a Bears team tied for the top spot, as both squads head into the showdown at 3-1 in the West Division standings and 4-1 overall.
Both won by the shutout route one week ago, Homer blanking Westhill 21-0 while Chittenango was a 27-0 non-league winner at Dryden.
The other team currently sharing first place, Marcellus (3-1, 3-2 overall), created a little separation among the top three teams and the next group with a 35-24 win over Skaneateles to drop the Lakers to 3-2 in league and overall play.
The Mustangs travel to Syracuse Tech for a 7 p.m. contest while Solvay is at Skaneateles at 7 p.m. Westhill (2-3) will host Bishop Kearney in a non-league game at 6 p.m.
“I am pleased with our start,” new Chittenango head coach Curt Kielbasa said prior to facing the Trojans. “The kids have worked very hard and we really have good number of returning kids. Some of these juniors and seniors have moved up with me from the JVs, but a bunch have also been on varsity since they were freshmen and sophomores. I don’t think we have played our best game yet.
“We let one game slip away against Skaneateles, but they are a good team, too,” he continued. “We all got some help when Marcellus beat them last week. We control our own destiny with Homer this week and Marcellus next week. We just hope the kids keep playing well.”
“Chittenango may have the most experienced starting line-up,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “They are physical. I think they are a little bigger and thicker than we are, but they really look like us in many ways.
“Everything is really simple in terms of our goals,” he added. “If we win out, we can be division champions for a fourth straight year. We don’t worry about next week. What we have to deal with is right in front of us.”
CHITTENANGO HAS some powerful offensive weapons. There are three players that have scored three touchdowns and two others have two TDs each in the balanced attack.
Senior quarterback Cooper Young runs the offense which includes multiple sets from shotgun, I-formations and wishbone. He has completed 18-of-46 passing attempts for 350 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
Cooper’s favorite target is senior tight end Hunter Hendrix with 10 catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Jacob Burgan and junior fullback Antonio Cutrie have four receptions each for 99 and 34 yards respectively. Senior receiver Tyrell Downer has two catches for 41 yards and one touchdown.
On the ground, the Bears can grind it out. Junior tailback Connor Fredericks is tops with 511 yards and three touchdowns on 98 carries as the workhorse. He spilts time with senior tailback Christian Cerio who is not far behind with 73 carries for 423 yards and two touchdowns, Junior back Griffen Smith has run the ball 31 times for 187 yards and one touchdown while Cutrie has 28 rushing attempts for 154 yards and three touchdowns.
The offensive line has senior Brennan Buyea at center. The left side has senior Lewis Brady at guard and junior Sam Hill at tackle. On the the right side is junior guard Brian Coe and junior tackle Nolan Allen.
Hendrix is a defensive force as he leads the Bears with 33 tackles from his linebacker spot in the 4-4 front. Joining him as linebacker are Coe, Fredericks and junior Griffen Smith. The down linemen are Allen and senior Diego Prado at the tackles with Hill and Cutrie the ends. Burgan and Downer are the cornerbacks with Young at safety.
HOMER CONTINUES TO feature the 1-2 punch of senior tailback Kevin Bush and junior tailback John Horner III. Bush has 460 yards on 87 carries with five touchdowns. Horner has 67 carries for 437 yards and four touchdowns.
While the Trojans attempted only one pass against Westhill and that was by junior back-up quarterback Tucker O’Donnell, senior starting QB Jacob Rivers got good news this week as junior tight end Dante Yacavone has been cleared to return to action after a one week layoff due to a shoulder injury. Yacavone is the leading receiver with eight catches for 91 yards and one touchdown.
Mr. All-Purpose, senior Matt Guerrera, has just four catches, but all four are for touchdowns and 153 yards. Guerrera also has 29 carries for another 196 yards and two touchdowns. As for Rivers, he has completed 15-of-44 passing attempt for 284 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception.
“We have been working very hard at practice,” Podsiedlik said. “It’s been very upbeat and high intensity. The focus has been good. The guys know what we need to do.”
The keys for victory are short, but specific.
“Homer plays good disciplined, physical football,” Kielbasa said. They are awell-coached team and want you to play at their tempo. We simply need to have good possessions. You can’t make mistakes against them or they will capitalize on them.
“We have had trouble scoring in the red zone,” he added. “We have left a lot of points on the field and not put them on the scoreboard.”
Chittenango comes into the game averaging 23 points per game, but they also only allow 5.6 points per game thanks to two shutouts.
Homer is averaging 27.2 points per game while allowing 19.4 points per game.
“We need to cash in on scoring chances in the red zone,” Podsiedlik said. “We have to play physical football on defense and use our line on both sides of the ball to get the the best push. We need good special teams play and we would like to get a defensive touchdown.”
TROJAN TIDBITS: For those fans wishing to drive to the game, here are the directions from the Homer Central School’s Athletics Page. Take Interstate 81 north to 481 north and proceed to the Fayetteville Exit (3E) and Route 5 East. Continue on Route 5 past Fayetteville and Chittenango Plaza (approx. 9 miles). The school and athletic fields will be on the left... Blue Collar Awards went to Stephen Walter (line) and Lars Roos (non-line) for this week... Zach Barber was named a game captain for the Chittenango game.... Homer holds a 13-7 advantage in the all-time series. The Trojans won 25-0 in 2015 and have a three-game winning streak. Chittenango posted a 42-0 victory in 2012 after also winning 32-14 in 2011.
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