October 22, 2010
Trojans, V-V-S in role reversal
Just last fall, Homer Central traveled to Vernon-Verona-Sherrill to face the Red Devils in a Section 3 Class B football quarterfinal round playoff game.
The Trojans rallied from an early 14-0 deficit to tie the game at 14-14 before V-V-S won the contest with 4:17 left to play. The Trojans were 4-3 entering the game and V-V-S was 19th-ranked with a 6-1 record as the fourth seed.
Fast forward to 2010, where the records of the two teams are reversed with third-seed V-V-S coming into the game at 4-3 overall while the sixth-seeded Trojans are 6-1 and ranked 13th in the latest state poll.
That’s the new scenario for Saturday’s playoff rematch, which also has a new local as the game has been moved from the Red Devils’ too-soggy, muddy grass field to New Hartford High School turf. Saturday’s starting time has been moved to 3 p.m.
The Red Devils have won five straight encounters over Homer, including a 1998 regular season 27-24 season-opening triumph. The other four wins were all in sectional play.
The lone Homer win was the first encounter in 1985 when the Trojans won their first Class B sectional title with a 13-7 victory — Dave Medeiros tossed the winning touchdown pass to Jim Currie in the closing seconds at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Currie has been the school’s career pass receptions leader ever since then with 55 catches until last Saturday when Zach Hatfield recorded the 56th and 57th receptions of his career to become the new school record holder.
Both teams return a lot of players from the 2009 meeting. V-V-S has 27 returning players and Homer has 20, of which 18 are available for the 2 p.m. kickoff.
Does having so many players back make the week’s preparations any easier?
“I’m not really sure if I would say easier,” V-V-S head coach Gary Oliver said. “It is still different in many ways. You have some different kids which means the strategy may be the same, but the coaching style to handle the kids will again be different.”
“V-V-S is a great first round match-up,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik replied. “Our kids have done their homework. They are students of the game. Our guys are really focused and ready to go.”
V-V-S USES THE shotgun formation with a 50-50 mix of run and pass. The trigger man is senior quarterback Tyler Mautner (6-foot-1, 195-pounds), who is the B East passing leader with 1,300 yards on 62 completions in 89 attempts.
Mautner is joined in the backfield by senior fullback Collin Way (5-11, 210) and the alternating combination senior Dylan Guider (5-10, 180) and junior Matt Sliker (5-8, 150) at tailback give the Red Devils a lot of options. Way has rushed for 621 yards (12 TDs) on 97 carries with Guider gaining 100 yards on 17 carries last week during a 33-6 victory over Oneida. Sliker has 365 rushing yards (40 carries) and 312 receiving yards (13 catches) for nine TDs and six 2-point conversions. He was the JV call-up last year that ran for the winning touchdown from four yards out and also caught a 36-yard pass from Mautner for another score during the V-V-S win.
Mautner’s top receivers are senior Tyler Curtis (6-1, 185) and junior Eli Cleveland (5-11, 160). Curtis has 23 receptions for 450 yards (5 TDs) with Cleveland pulling down eight passes for 289 yards (5 TDs). Senior Casey Henderson (6-4, 210) and sophomore Brett Field (6-4, 225) make their contributions as blockers and optional receivers from the tight end position.
Up front, senior left tackle Tyler Wendt (6-5, 220) and senior guard Anthony Matt 6-0, 260) anchor one side with senior right guard Andrew Oliver (6-1, 230) and junior right tackle Aaron Oliver (5-10, 245) on the other side.
“We have spread it out a little more, but it is really a game by game deal as to how much passing we do,” Oliver stated.
Way does it all for them,” Podsiedlik said. “We need to hit him low and we need to tire him out because he is the fullback and middle linebacker. They have a number of two-way players. I’m sure conditioning will come into play.
“They do mix up the formations with the shotgun, I, Power I and the pistol formations,” he added. “Mautner is a leader at quarterback. Curtis, Cleveland, Henderson, Field are all potential go-to guys. Guider is a nice change of pace and Sliker has experience and he was one of caused us problems last year.”
Defensively, V-V-S loves its physical 4-4 base. Way and senior Dillon May (6-1, 180) are two very active linebackers with Wendt helping control the line of scrimmage as a down lineman.
ETHAN FORSTER GOT the start for Homer at quarterback against Phoenix. The senior got his feet wet in varsity competition and played well. He competed five-of-nine-passing attempts for 98 yards while the backfield gobbled out 321 yards on the ground. With Forster finding success at the signal-caller, he has earned the start Saturday.
The Trojans could have another weapon back as well in senior flanker-halfback-defensive back Cody Sandy. The senior sat out last week because of a concussion he suffered against Hannibal. Sandy is another change-of-pace runner with 32 carries for 388 yards and four touchdowns.
Senior fullback-tailback-linebacker Andy Parker leads the Trojan rushers with 551 yards and eight touchdowns on 98 carries. Senior tailback Zerek Zimmerman has rushed 70 times for 408 yards and two touchdowns.
Hatfield leads the receiving corps with 16 receptions for 212 yards and six touchdowns. Senior Hunter Osborne and Parker each have six receptions with Sandy having four receptions.
What are the keys to victory?
On offense, we need to hold onto the ball,” Oliver said. “Defensively, we need to keep their running backs in check. They have some good runners and we can’t let them control the tempo.”
“We need to frustrate the linemen,” Podsiedlik stated. “They are bigger so we need to stay low and stay on them. We must control the line of scrimmage of both sides of the ball. We have good recognition of their formations and what they do out of each of them.
“Offensively,” he added. “We need to be patient. We need those long time-consuming drives.”
Homer has been tough to run on defensively all season. The Trojans have surrendered just 676 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. That’s 96.6 yards per game.
If the Trojans continue that trend, it could be another tough day as Way was held to 27 yards. Guider did rush for 97 yards, but Mautner was a negative 26 yards rushing and just four-for-16 passing for 66 yards. Of course, tha game was played in the rain for a while and the field was a muddy mess by the end of the game.
That won’t be the problem at New Hartford, but it will take a solid effort on both sides of the ball for Homer to clear the first-game hurdle that is V-V-S.
TROJAN TIDBITS: For those driving to the Saturday contest, here are the directions, courtesy of the Homer Transportation Department. Take Route 13 North to Cazenovia to Route 20 East. Take Route 20 to Route 12 North (Not 12B). Pick up Route 12 at Waterville. Take Route 12 into New
Hartford. When Route 12 intersects with Route 5, turn right onto Route 5. Go into the village on Route 5 and turn right at the 2nd traffic light onto Oxford Road. The high school is a short distance down Oxford Road on the left....The Blue Collar Awards were given to Ryan Alexander (lineman) and Ethan Forster (non-line).
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