October 27, 2007


CHS secret weapon trips Trojans

Big plays by Thomas part of 27-18 Purple Tiger win

CHS Homer

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Homer Central’s K.J. Reese (33) breaks free for a 52-yard touchdown in the first quarter while being pursued by Cortland High’s Corby Reynolds Friday night at Butts Field. Visiting CHS won, 27-18.

Staff Writer

Nate Thomas might be one of the best-kept secrets on the local high school football scene, but that all changed Friday night. Against rival Homer Central, the 5-foot-9, 155-pound Cortland High senior was everywhere on the George Butts Field turf.
Thomas had an 85-yard kickoff return for one touchdown, sealed the game with a 30-yard interception return for another score, added a 33-yard fumble return, broke-up two touchdown passes and made six tackles — two of those preventing Homer touchdowns.
The net result was a 27-18 Purple Tiger triumph in the 30th meeting between the two neighbors. It was the first Cortland win on Trojan turf since 1989, that being a 6-0 triumph on a Mike DiPietro TD interception return.
“I can’t even imagine this,” said Thomas while standing in the cold rain after the game. “This is the best way to go out in my senior year and my high school career. I don’t think a lot of us in the senior class will be playing football in college, so this is great.
“We could not have a winning season, but this is the start of something good,” Thomas added. “I guarantee that, in the coming years, we are going to be the team to beat. We had a great attitude coming into this season; it was so much different. We had so much heart and desire to be successful.”
Both teams walked the field with identical 4-5 records, but it was the Purple Tiger defense that bent many times, but never broke.
“We did a lot of things poorly,” said Cortland High head coach Dave Darrow. “It was the worst executed game that we have had in our last four games, but that’s alright. It is what it is.
“It is a rivalry game,” Darrow continued. “It seems like every time we play Homer, it is just ugly. It would be nice, on a good day, to see what a real offense and defense would look like. I do take my hat off to Homer. Coach (Gary) Podsiedlik is a good guy and their team was well prepared. We did capitalize on some good breaks.”
THAT FIRST BREAK came after a Cortland turnover.
The Purple Tigers were marching down the field on their opening possession, but the only pass quarterback A.J. Meldrim threw all night was interception by Trojan junior Kane Hartnett at the Homer nine-yard line. On third down, Trojan quarterback Joey Rivers was hit by Garrett Wyatt and fumbled the ball in the end zone. Justin Guerin fell on the ball for a Tiger touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 8:23 left in the quarter.
Cortland held defensively and, on the Homer punt by Talon Sprouse, Dyquann Barlow fielded the ball at his own 48-yard line and returned the punt for an apparent touchdown. A holding penalty at the Trojan four negated the score, but Cortland started the drive at the Homer 14. Barlow was the leading rusher for the Purple Tigers with 62 yards on 10 carries.
Three plays later, Josh Morehouse (13 carries-31 yards) scored on a three-yard run and the Purple Tigers led 14-0 with 5:07 left in the first quarter.
“We gave Cortland good field position early and made a couple of mistakes,” said Homer head coach Gary Podsiedlik. “We had the one breakdown on the kick return as well, but our kids never gave up and never stopped trying.
“Cortland was on the verge of letting us take over completely,” Podsiedlik continued. “But, they regrouped and really hung in there. Hats off to Cortland for that strong effort.”
Homer regrouped and got on the board on its next possession. Trojan junior tailback K.J. Reese broke free and raced 52 yards for the touchdown. Homer failed on the two-point conversion, but the Trojans were closer at 14-6 with 3:26 still on the first quarter clock. Reese finished the game with 178 yards on 26 carries and wrapped up the season with 796 yards and eight touchdowns. Reese cracked the 1,000-yard career rushing mark on his 22nd carry of the evening, a seven-yard gain early in the fourth quarter. He becomes just the 20th Trojan runner to reach the 1,000-yard plateau in career rushing yards.
BOTH DEFENSES began to settle in and take control.
Thomas recovered a Trojan fumble at his own 35-yard line and returned in deep into Homer territory, but the drive went nowhere. Homer held and began moving the ball, but a touchdown-saving tackle by Thomas at the Cortland 17 stopped a 49-yard gain by Mike Carboine after his catch of a Rivers pass. The drive stalled and Homer got no points.
With three minutes left in the first half, Homer senior Franco Giordano stripped the ball from a Cortland runner and covered the loose ball himself at the Cortland 24. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave Homer 12 more yards and the drive began at the Purple Tiger 12. After an offensive pass interference penalty pushed the Trojans back to the Cortland 27, Mike Park raced untouched on the fullback trap for a touchdown and Homer was within 14-12 with 2:26 left in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Thomas fielded the ball at his own 15-yard line and found a seam to his left. Thomas raced 85 yards for the touchdown and Cortland was back on top 20-12.
Homer opened the third quarter with a long drive. Resse broke free on a 33-yard dash, but Thomas made his second touchdown-saving tackle at the Cortland three. Four running plays got the Trojans to the one-yard line, but the Cortland defense held.
After forcing Cortland to punt from its own end zone, Homer took possession at the Purple Tiger 24. Three plays later, Rivers found Hartnett open in the end zone for the Trojan touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, but Homer only trailed 20-18with 4:38 left in the third quarter.
The defenses continued to maintain most of the control. With 3:34 left, Thomas stepped in front of Carboine and picked off Rivers pass at the Trojan 30. Thomas found an opening to his right and raced into the end zone for the touchdown. Walrath was successful on the extra-point kick and Cortland led 28-17.
HOMER BEGAN moving the ball, but, in a steady rain, the ball slipped out of Rivers hand as he looked downfield and Will Fickenscher made the interception at his own 16-yard line and returned the errant pass 20 yards to his own 36.
Each team had one last possession, but nothing became of either drive and Cortland reclaimed the Home-Cort Jug for the 13th time.
Cortland gained all its offensive yards on the ground with 147 rushing yards, but the Purple Tigers also totaled 294 return yards on kickoffs, punts, fumble recoveries and interceptions.
Homer rushed for 236 yards and passed for another 118 yards for a total of 354 offensive yards.





Cincy upset victim

Staff Writer

CINCINNATUS — A few post-game words from each of the coaches told you all you had to know about Friday afternoon’s Section 3 Class D boys’ soccer quarterfinal between _visiting No. 10 Otselic Valley and second-seeded Cincinnatus Central.
“The team that gets the most shots doesn’t always win,” said Vikings coach Dave Loomis, who had just seen his squad outdone 17-4 in that category.
“We seemed out of sync,” Cincy coach Leigh Wright said moments later in a hushed tone, a light rain falling as he stood on the Red Lions’ now empty and silent pitch, where minutes before things had been frantic, crowded and raucous as the hosts desperately tried for the equalizer.
It wasn’t to be, as Otselic Valley made a penalty kick by goalie Taylor Duell 14 minutes into the contest stand up in a 1-0 upset victory.
“We seemed to be a little panicky at times,” said Wright, whose team ended a season that included its first Central Counties League championship in 10 seasons at 13-2-2 overall. That included a season-opening 3-1 home win (Sept. 5) and 1-1 road tie (Sept. 28) with OV.
“We try to move the ball feet to feet, but today we just hit it hard a few times. We seemed to be a little more anxious after we fell behind,” added Wright. “Otselic Valley packed it real heavy in the box and didn’t give us opportunities, but we did have some. The times the ball came across in front of the goal, and we couldn’t finish. We just weren’t where we should have been.”
One player who was in the right place was Vikings senior forward Landon Rasmussen, who was taken down in the box as he moved in for a shot on Red Lions goalkeeper Wolfy Rheinheimer. Duell came out of the OV net to take the resulting penalty kick, and calmly put a hard, rolling shot into the left corner of the net for what proved to be the only goal of the game.
“We practiced penalty kicks all week because we knew sectionals can be decided that way,” Duell said. “I was glad coach picked me. I always shoot to the same place. I knew the game was going to be close, that one goal could decide it, and I was glad when it went in.”
“Taylor hasn’t always taken our penalty kicks this season, but he will now,” Loomis, his team now 9-7-2, said with a laugh. “He had another one for us at mid-season. After he scored, Cincinnatus was down for a while, but they got the momentum back. That’s the game of soccer. They had a lot of opportunities that didn’t go, and maybe if we played tomorrow they would.
“We tied Cincy the second time we played this season and the kids were up for this,” he added, that 1-1 draw played at OV on Sept. 28. “We felt confident that if we could do the right things we’d have a decent chance. It was good to played a team we’d already seen this season, because we could think back and know that we had to contain Jherrett.”



Dragons capture two wins

BUFFALO — It came down to the final event for SUNY Cortland men.
The Red Dragons were leading host Buffalo State by a mere three points in Friday’s SUNY Athletic Conference swimming and diving meet with one event left when the 400-yard freestyle relay finished things off with a decisive victory.
Freshman Bill DeLoe, junior Roy Culkin, freshman Matt Young and freshman James McCabe won that relay finale in 3:31.34, almost 10 seconds ahead of Buffalo State’s second place team, to secure a 117-109 victory.
Cortland women also were victorious in his dual-opener for the Red Dragons, beating Buffalo State 105-78. Both Buffalo State sides fall to 0-2 on the season.
CORTLAND MEN also won the opening 400-yarr medley relay with freshman Luis Welch, junior Austin Rhoads, sophomore Jeff Moessinger and senior Evan Jones. Moessinger — a Buffalo native who attended Iroquois High School — was Cortland’s lone individual double-winner. He picked up firsts in the 200-yard freestyle (1:56.72) and 200-yard butterfly (2:11.84).
Junior David Dow won the 1,000-yard freestyle (10:41.91) and McCabe captured the 50-yard freestyle (23.62). Jones won the 100-yard freestyle (51.96), Culkin touched the wall first in the 500-yard freestyle (5:20.27) and Rhoads captured the 200-yard breaststroke (2:27.49).
CORTLAND WOMEN got three victories from senior Sarah O’Loughlin. She finished first in the 1,000-yard freestyle (11:43.50) and the 200-yard butterfly (2:22.58), and was a winner as an exhibition entry in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:40.87).
Sophomore Megan Donlevy was victorious in the 200-yard freestyle (2:08.14) and the 200-yard backstroke (2:22.83), the latter as an exhibition entry.
Cortland’s other individual winners were sophomore Ciera Broadwell in the 50-yard freestyle (27.12), freshman Jennifer Thorpe in the 200-yard individual medley (2:24.94), freshman Brittany Zdybowicz in the 100-yard freestyle (58.52) and freshman Rachel Phillips as an exhibition entry in the 500-yard freestyle (5:49.56).
The Red Dragons also won both relays, though swimming the 400 free relay as an exhibition team.