November 1, 2013
Homer heads to semis healthier
Oneida next test for unbeaten Trojans
If Homer Central has been impressive so far this football season with different guys nicked and dinged for the past few weeks, what will the Trojans look like at full strength?
That question will be answered Saturday when the top-seeded Trojans (8-0) kick off at 1 p.m. against fourth-seed Oneida (7-1) at Chittenango High School in the Section 3 Class B semifinals.
This is just the fifth time Homer has posted eight wins in its 66 seasons and the first since the 9-2 Section 3 Class B championship team of 2005.
Junior tailback Alec Bush is healthier after limited duty in the Trojans’ 41-14 quarterfinal win over Camden last week. That’s good news to the potent running game that still compiled a solid 246 yards behind the efforts of senior fullback Chris Brown, junior tailback Gage Root, junior all-purpose player Jayden Gavidia and junior Chris Birchenough.
This quartet combined for 26 carries and 202 yards, including four touchdowns.
Bush has 1,289 yards this season and 15 of the 34 rushing touchdowns by the Trojans’ ground attack.
Junior quarterback Drew Cottrell ran for one score with completing five-of-seven passes for 103 yards and one touchdown to raise his season totals to 50 percent at 20-for-40 for 461 and six touchdowns with just one interception. Gavidia has nine catches for 289 yards and four touchdown along with 115 rushing yards and two scores.
Another big returnee is junior center and inside linebacker Matt Suits who was hurt in the Westhill game back Sept. 27. Suits’ return bolsters a much-improved offensive line and gives the Trojans more depth.
“WE HAVE HAD A good week of practice so far,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “Matt was cleared this (Thursday) morning and he will play on offense. We still need to get him back into full playing shape, but he will be seeing time at center.
“That’s nothing against Brent Bishop who has filled in so very well,” he added. “Brent really has held his own and he has been a great role model for the younger guys. Brent has given us his all and has done whatever the coaches have asked him and he has helped make us a better team.”
Sophomore lineman Lukas Miller has been playing with the JV team to get more experience, but he is back up with the varsity for the remainder of the season. Also moving up from the undefeated JV squad are freshman lineman Luke Sears, sophomore lineman Matt Fox, junior halfback-outside linebacker Dylan Williams-Bachman and sophomore defensive back-wideout Cameron Cronk.
“These guys have really been a big help this week,” Podsiedlik. “Those guys along with JV coaches George Schneider and Geoff Sorensen, along with Mark Ferrito and Dustin Morris have joined us and the entire staff is working very hard this week.
“That’s one of the reasons that Homer and Oneida are successful at the varsity level,” he added. “We respect the program for the youth program to junior high to JV to varsity. Our kids are well-coached at all the levels.”
“WE HAVE HAD A real good season to this point,” Oneida head coach Bill Carinci said. “This really is a good match-up. Homer is really diversified offensively with a very good running game and a solid passing game.”
On offense, the Indians show shotgun, I-back and power I looks.Junior quarterback Rory McCarthy ( 5-feet-11, 175 pounds) calls the signals and, like Camden’s Ryan McCarthy, is a threat to run and pass.
“The two McCarthys are very similar,” Carinci said. “Rory is very good at the read-option which makes him a running threat and he knows when to throw the ball.”
“Rory McCarthy is just a junior,” Podsiedlik added. “He has good quickness and speed. He really is a great passer because he throws the ball very quickly. He finds his target and fires the ball right in there.”
It’s running back by committee for Oneida led by senior Dylan Cafalone (5-11, 180). You can expect to see senior Kyle George (5-9, 160), junior Travis Moyer (5-11, 200) and junior Nick Carinci (5-10, 155), who is the coach’s son.
Senior Drew Mallinder (6-1, 180) is a favorite target for McCarthy’s passes, but you could senior Steve Patricia (6-2 185) as well as any of the running backs catch some passes.
The one constant in the offensive line is junior Logan Williams (5-8, 175) at center. Senior Tyler Havener (6-2, 255), senior David Carroll (6-0, 220) and senior Mark Gillmeister (5-8, 175) are fixtures with seniors Shawn Thurston (6-1, 190) and Joe Marji (5-11, 175) sharing time. All will see time at guard or tackle depending on the play called and formation.
DEFENSIVELY, ONEIDA likes a 4-3 base formation, but the Indians have a lot of variations depending on the opposition. Look form 3-5, 4-4, 5-3 and even six-man fronts.
In their 3-5 that Coach Carinci reported, Mallinger and Thurston are the ends with Thurston also going inside as the nose tackle with Havener. The inside linebackers are Carroll, senior Zachary Murray (5-11, 180) and senior Dylan Dunn (5-9, 170) while the outside linebackers are Cafalone and George, The secondary has Carinci and junior Liam Mahoney (5-8, 135) at the cornerbacks with junior John Nish (6-0, 160) at safety.
Coach Carinci only has one real key to winning Saturday.
“We need to stop their running game,” Carinci said. “Homer has three very good backs to contend with.
“”We can’t make mistakes, he added. “We will have to try some crossing routes to combat their man coverage in the secondary.”
“We have to maintain our turnover ratio,” Podsiedlik said of the plus-20 advantage his team holds with 23 takeaways and just three giveaways. “ Every game to this point we have outplayed the other team and that needs to continue.
“We need to keep our offense on track,” he continued. “We need to keep Oneida out of rhythm on offense and special teams could really be a factor.”
TROJAN TIDBITS: Kicker Joel Christopher is the Blue Collar Non-Lineman of the Week and Nick Holcomb is the Blue Collar Lineman... The game captain is Chris Brown. This is the second straight week that Brown was named the game captain. All the senior did against Camden was catch three passes for 69 yards and one touchdown and rush for 56 yards and one touchdown on five carries.. .Oneida leads the all-time series 5-3, including 2-0 mark in the playoffs (29-28 win in 2003, 27-7 win in 2004). Homer won last meeting with 6-0 non-league win in 2012, Oneida won 34-33 in a 2009 non-league match-up... The second Class B semifinal game at Chittenango between second-seed Cazenovia (8-0) and third-seed Marcellus (5-3) will kickoff at 4 p.m.
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