October 7, 2011
Focused Homer heads to Mexico
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Central’s Mark Dove (49), following the block of Anthony Contento (32) against Cortland High, will be looking for running room Saturday night at Mexico.
It’s down to the final two weeks of the Section 3 Class B West Division football season and, despite a 3-1 league record, Homer Central is not guaranteed a post-season-playoff spot.
The Trojans (3-2 overall) travel to Mexico for a Saturday night 7 o’clock kickoff that culminates a busy schedule of “Community Day” event in the village and at the high school.
Homer holds a 9-1 record in the all-time series, but the two teams have not faced each other since a 44-14 Trojan win in 2002. Prior to that, it was a 44-0 Homer win in 1996. The first eight meetings started in 1979 with the lone Mexico win, 20-13, and ended with a 55-0 Trojan triumph in 1986.
While unbeaten Chittenango (5-0 league and overall) leads the division, Mexico 2-2 (3-2), Marcellus 2-2 (3-2) and Phoenix 2-2 (2-3) are all one game back in the loss column to the Trojans. Westhill (1-3, 1-4) and Solvay (0-5, 0-5) are really the only teams out of the playoff picture on the Class B West side.
“This is a huge week and we have to be focused. The kids have actually bounced back from the Cortland loss better than the coaches have,” said Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik, the Trojans having lost to their rivals 36-21 last Friday. “They have been focused and they know what is on the line because we aren’t guaranteed a playoff spot yet.
“Mexico presents a very interesting challenge for us this week,” he added. “On defense they showed an even (4-4) front against Phoenix but, the week before, it was an odd-man (3-4, really 5-2) front against Chittenango. On offense, they are a Delaware Wing-T team, but they also like the power game with tight I formations.”
The thing Podsiedlik has enjoyed is an extra day to prepare for this game.
“We have tried to shorten practices a little this week,” Podsiedlik explained. “We did our film work Monday and Tuesday was a normal long practice because there is no way to shorten things on a lifting day in the weight room.
“Wednesday we did the clinic with the Youth Football kids before a short practice back here at the high school. We did some fundamentals, but it is more team work stuff that day and Thursday. Friday will be a pre-game practice routine. Obviously there is no school Saturday so I asked the guys how did they approach the first night game this season in Marcellus. There is no school that day either, so keep your routine similar to that.”
Mexico has a powerful running game led by the Eastman brothers. Ray Eastman is a 5-foot-7, 150-pound senior tailback who leads the team with 97 carries for 654 yards and six touchdowns. Younger brother John Eastman, 5-10, 175 junior back has 65 carries for 441 yards and five TDs.
“Ray plays with a lot of intensity,” Podsiedlik said. “He is the more physical of the two, but John is probably the faster one. They run a lot of buck sweeps and counters with handoffs from each other and quarterback Mitchal Pettit.
“Pettit (6-1, 210) is not flashy,” he added. “The senior quarterback has good athleticism and executes the offense very well.”
Like Homer quarterback Thomas Austin, Pettit has thrown just 40 passes with 15 completions for 358 yards and three TDs. Austin (5-10, 165) has completed 13 tosses for 230 yards and three scores.
Ray Eastman is also the leading receiver with six catches for 94 yards. John Eastman has five receptions for 102 yards and one touchdown while senior split end Jesse Anderson (5-11, 150) has just three catches, but has gained 148 yards and scored twice.
Senior tailback Austin Recor (6-2, 185) leads the Trojan rushing attack with 646 yards and four TDs on 112 carries. Senior fullback-tailback Mark Dove has 35 carries for 180 yards and senior Dyson Sprouse has gained 138 yards on 23 carries. Sprouse is the leading receiver with four catches for 98 yards and 2 TDs.
What are the keys to victory?
“We have to have sensible play calling,” Podsiedlik said. “We need to grind it out on the ground on offense. On defense, we can’t let the Eastmans fool us. We have to tackle all phases of their offense.
“We need to win the battle in the trenches,” he added. “We need to drive their offensive line crazy and we need to push their defensive line back. We can’t make mistakes on special teams and we should really stick to fundamental football.”
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