October 26, 2013
Triumphant Trojans band together
Class B top seeds take care of Camden, 41-14
Homer Central is no stranger to defying the odds.
The 2005 Trojans knocked off powerhouse Cazenovia in the Carrier Dome to win its last Section 3 Class B football title that season. Homer is the top seed in this year’s playoffs and this batch of Trojans showed they are truly a team of guys banded together in a common goal — returning to the Dome.
With leading rusher Alec Bush limited to six carries for 18 yards due to an ankle sprain suffered in practice Wednesday, the rest of the Trojans combined for 228 rushing yards on 41 carries and scored five touchdowns as the 8-0 home team rolled to a 41-14 first round victory Friday over eighth-seed Camden (4-4) in the final game this season on George Butts Field.
Homer will meet fourth-seed Oneida (7-1) in semifinal action this coming weekend at a site and time still to be decided. The Indians shutout fifth-seed Westhill (4-4) 37-0 last night.
In the other Class B quarterfinal action, third-seed Marcellus (5-3) edged sixth-seed Vernon-Vernona-Sherrill (5-3) 14-6. The Mustangs opponent will be determined this afternoon when seventh-seed Cortland High (3-4) travels to second-seed and defending Class B champion Cazenovia (7-0) at 1:30 p.m.
“It’s a big win and we’re really excited,” senior game captain Chris Brown said, who contributed two touchdowns to the Trojans victory over Camden. “We want to keep it going and get back to the Dome.
“We really have a lot of depth,” he added. “When one person goes down, the rest of us are going to pick him up so he can be ready to play the next week.”
BROWN DID HIS part turning a simple hitch pass into 42-yard touchdown and adding a 42-yard scoring run to help the Trojans take a 28-0 halftime lead. Brown caught three passes for 69 yards and rushed for 56 yards on five carries.
The biggest obstacle for the visiting Blue Devils was doing exactly what head coach Aaron Fiorini did not want his squad to do, make mistakes. Two fumbles and an interception were compounded by some costly penalties to dig that early hole.
“These kids fought their tails off,’ Fiorini said. “We could have put their tails between their legs after that first half, but they came out and fought hard in the second half.
“You can’t make mistakes against a quality football team,” he continued. “We did everything wrong in the first half. We knew what plays Homer was running and we weren’t in position to make the plays. We didn’t do anything we had worked on in practice. We wish them the best of luck as they move on.”
After holding Camden on its opening possession of the game, Homer took just one play to take the lead. Trojans quarterback Drew Cottrell threw a little bubble pass to Brown on his left. Brown took what should have been a short gain and turned it into six points with a great run down the far (Camden) sideline just 2:11 into the contest.
Camden got good field position on the pouch kick, but Camden fumbled on the very next play and Matt Norris jumped on the loose ball to give the Trojans the ball at their own 42-yard line.
BROWN, GAGE ROOT and Jake Casey ran the ball to the Camden 17 before the Trojans had a little hiccup. Cottrell was sacked for a 10-yard loss. Homer was called for holding on a short Jayden Gavidia run and faced second-and-28 at the Camden 35.
Back-to-back four yard runs by Gavidia and Bush got some of the yards back. Bush was pushed back down while trying to get up and the 15-yard personal foul penalty moved the ball to the Blue Devils 14, but it still wasn’t enough for the first down. Homer took a gamble on fourth down. Cottrell could not find an open receiver so he tucked the ball and ran the final 14 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Trojan lead with 3:58 left in the first quarter,
A big key to the Trojan victory is the continuing maturation of Cottrell. The junior completed five-of-seven passing attempts for 103 yards. His two incompletions were a dropped ball in the end zone and a ball he threw away to avoid a sack. He was sacked on two occasions, but overall, it was his best game yet.
“It’s been a long process,” Cottrell said. “It’s really the coaches fixing my arm mechanics that I’ve really had since junior high. I’m stronger now and am able to throw the ball not push it. My receivers are making great plays and my offensive line’s blocking has gotten better each week. We’ve had a couple of guys go down like (Zach) Clark and (Matt) Suits, but (Anthony) Basile, (Brent) Bishop, Gumby (Nick Holcomb), (Dylan) Hotchkiss and (Shaun) McGrath have all stepped up and made better blocks, It has helped make our passing game a threat.”
“It’s exciting to be 8-0 in our senior year, but we still have games to play,” right tackle Nick Holcomb said. “We are going to keep battling. Alec has been a big part of our success, but we all pulled together tonight to pick him up.
“We really like each other,” Holcomb said of his linemates. “It’s just a group of guys who have been together a long time. The three of us who are seniors have been playing together since second grade. We just want to make the season last.”
DOWN BY TWO TDS, a 39-yard run by McCarthy and a 13-yard pass from McCarthy to Scott Graham put the Blue Devils in the red zone at the Trojan 15.
That’s where the Homer defense stiffened. The first down pass was deflected by senior defensive back Connor Simonetta and a screen pass to Jeremy Zeitschel resulted in a four-yard loss. Facing third down, a McCarthy pass to Kevin Jones was high and tipped off his fingers. Simonetta also tipped the errant throw before catching it for the interception, his sixth of the season.
Six plays later, Brown took a handoff and ran right through the middle of the Camden defense on a 42-yard dash for a touchdown. Homer led 21-0 with 10:36 left in the first half.
Camden turned the ball over on downs at the Homer 35-yard line as the Blue Devils nest drive stalled. Jayden Gavidia kept the nine-play drive alive with a great fourth-down diving catch for 29 yards to the Camden 11. After Gage Root netted eight yards on first down, Gavidia covered the final three yards for the touchdown and a 28-0 lead with 1:59 left in the quarter.
Homer could have put the final nail in the Blue Devil coffin when Drew Becker recovered the kick-off fumble at the Camden eight yard line, but Joel Christopher 21-yard field goal try clanked off the right upright.CAMDEN SHOWED SPARK in the third quarter. The defense held the Trojans and McCarthy went to work. He accounted for 61 of the 67 yards on the scoring drive and capped the possession with an eight yard dash into the end zone to cut the Trojan lead to 28-7 with 5:19 left in the third quarter.
On the next Camden possession, McCarthy completed the eight-play drive with a 13-yard pass to Kevin Jones for the score. Homer now led 28-14 as the third quarter was nearly over.
The Blue Devils tried the onsides kick, but Basile covered the ball for the Trojans. Homer marched 38 yards with a solid 10-play drive capped by a one-yard run by Jake Casey for the score. The Trojans lead was 34-14 with 6:44 to play.
After holding Camden on fourth down at the Blue Devils 36-yard line, Chris Birchenough touched the ball just twice. The second touch resulted in the junior starting to his left and cutting back to the right before traveling 33 yards for the final touchdown of the night. He finished with 52 yards on six carries.
“It felt real good,” said Root who led the Trojans running attack with 64 yards on 14 carries and sacked McCarthy once as a defensive lineman. “It was nice to get some more carries on offense.
“We did get some pressure on McCarthy and it was good to get to him a couple of times,” he added. “We are a solid unit on defense with Birch (Birchenough), Anthony (Basile), Rob (Hornberger), Hotchkiss and the others.”
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