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October 10, 2008

 

Second place showdown for CHS

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

The Cortland High football team can make things easy on itself, and a good chunk of the Section 3 Class A American Division, by beating visiting Jamesville-DeWitt tonight.
A victory in the 7 p.m. start at Moiseichik Field in the match-up of the league’s second-place squads (both 2-1) would go a long way toward enabling the Purple Tigers, currently 4-1 overall, to clinch the runner-up spot in the league for seeding purposes. That would give them an Oct. 24 home sectional game, their first since a 33-27 win over Whitesboro in the 2003 Class A semifinals — on Oct. 24 of that year.
Combined with a win by undefeated East Syracuse-Minoa at Fowler this afternoon, a CHS victory tonight would mean that Coach Dave Darrow’s squad would wrap up the second slot. That’s because it would hold victories over the two teams that could conceivably tie it for that position.
Should J-D win tonight, however, a three-way tie for second between Cortland, J-D and Fulton (each of which would be 1-1 against the other two) could very well result, bringing the section’s complicated tiebreakers into play. While Cortland visits Fowler next Friday, Fulton (currently 2-2 in the league) finishes league play by hosting winless Mexico tonight and J-D closes out by visiting ES-M next week.
Even if ES-M was to lose one of its last two games and CHS won out, the Purple Tigers, while sharing the A American title, would be the league’s second-seeded team due to their 14-7 loss to the host Spartans two weeks ago.
Darrow, of course, is only concerned with winning tonight’s contest, his team facing its biggest test of the season for the fourth week in a row coming off a 20-0 bounc-eback shutout of visiting Oswego in a non-leaguer last Friday. After three straight weeks of facing teams with stellar running backs, the Purple Tigers will go up against a tough quarterback in J-D senior Joe Daddario (6-1, 205 pounds), who in only three games this season, due to injury, has completed 14-of-37 passes for 314 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns in keying the Red Rams’ spread offense.
“Daddario is a great quarterback, a stud,” Darrow said. “Plus they have the same running back (5-6, 170-pound senior tailback Lonza Williams) who killed us last year. Demetrius Mitchell (6-0, 150 sophomore wide receiver) and Lamar Kearse (6-0, 180 junior running back-defensive back) are also good. They go out of the spread with an empty backfield or just one back with four or five receivers, and use the shotgun a lot.
“We’ll probably have to score at least four touchdowns to win. They’re going to throw a lot, and Daddario is going to get some big plays. We’ll have to put a lot of pressure on him to see if he makes mistakes, and play ball control on offense to keep it from both Daddario and Williams. I don’t think they can stop us on the ground.”
CORTLAND BEAT host J-D 28-20 last season, intercepting Daddario (9-for-21 for 149 yards and two TDs) twice, while Williams carried the ball 10 times for 139 yards.
Darrow noted that his team has had a good week of practice. “The kids are excited. They’re playing for something that matters, something that’s important. A home playoff game was one of our goals to start the season. We play well at home, and a lot of people have been coming out to our games.”
“There’s extra incentive for both teams in this one,” J-D coach Dennis Schahczenski said, his team 2-3 overall after a 44-27 non-league loss to visiting New Hartford a week ago. “If not, there’s something wrong. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes will win.
“Cortland is so solid, with hard-working, tough kids. Their lines are solid, they can hit you with different running backs and their quarterback is good. You don’t get to 4-1 in Class A with just a couple of standout players. We have to play error-free football against a team like that.”
In addition to the players Darrow mentioned, Schahczenski also singled out a number of other players who have performed well for him this year. Included were the entire offensive line of junior right guard Ryan Whipple (5-11, 200), senior right guard Tacari Davis (5-22, 225), junior center Kenny Schunck (6-2, 225), senior left guard Keenan Cannon (6-2, 225) and senior left tackle Nate Knapp (5-9, 180).
Williams is the Red Rams’ leading rusher with 56 carries for 324 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and three TDs, while Kearse has picked up 153 yards on 48 carries (3.2). Mitchell is Daddario’s favorite receiver, with nine catches for a league-high 263 yards (29.2) and three TDs, and Jailaan Kinsey (5-8, 155 junior running back) has nine receptions for 127 yards (14.1).
J-D uses a 5-2 set defensively. Schahczenski noted that of his two starting defense ends, junior Mac Feiner (6-4, 225) is definitely out tonight due to injury and junior Joe Shepard (5-10, 150) is questionable for the same reason. Schahczenski said that his top players defensively are linebackers Schunck and Peter Anderson (5-11, 180 senior), junior noseguard Mike Paul (5-11, 190), tackles Cannon and Cody Marsh (5-11, 280 junior) and defensive backs Lamar Kearse (6-0, 180 junior), Williams, Jerome Bryant (5-5, 145 junior) and Cody Black (5-11, 155 senior).
“OUR DEFENSIVE backs are strong, though they didn’t show it against New Hartford,” Schahczenski said with a laugh. “We were right there with one of the better Class A teams in the section; it was pretty much a one-quarter game. We led 13-7 after one quarter, they outscored us 24-0 in the second and we played them even (actually 14-13 for J-D) in the second half.
“Cortland, ES-M, Whitesboro and Carthage are all good teams this season, too.”
While J-D will be missing Feiner and perhaps Shepard, Cortland will be without sophomore running back-cornerback Alex Stacy, who suffered a knee injury on kickoff coverage against Oswego. “Alex is going to be missed,” Darrow said. “He did a lot for us, and is a likeable kid who works hard. The kids on the team all like him, and will miss him.”
Senior tailbacks Corby Reynolds and Brandon Fitzgerald lead the Purple Tigers’ ground attack. Reynolds has picked up 445 yards on 98 carries (4.54 yards per carry) and six TDs for a team-high 36 points, while Fitzgerald has lugged the ball 60 times for 327 yards (5.45) and one TD. In last year’s J-D game, Fitzgerald picked up 129 yards on 24 carries.
Cortland senior quarterback Matt Porter has completed 11-of-36 passes (.306) for 129 yards and one TD, which was scored by leading receiver Dyquann Barlow. The junior has caught four passes for 55 yards (13.75) and the TD, has rushed for two more TDs on just nine carries (97 yards, 10.78) and has also taken both a kickoff and a punt return back all the way for 30 total points, second on the team to Reynolds.