After a surprising run last fall, Homer Central will look to continue that success when the Trojans begin the 2016 OHSL Freedom Division golf season Tuesday.
Homer finished second in the Freedom’s National Division standings with a 9-4 record in 2015 and finished 9-5 overall. The Trojans open league play tomorrow at 10 a.m. against Phoenix at Rose Creek Golf Course in Central Square.
Heading the list of returning players this fall are fourth-year senior Brent McNeil and third-year junior Mike Turck. McNeil was a first-team all-star in 2015 and Turck earned second team honors.
Also returning is third-year junior Noah Goddard along with five second-year players. Those five are senior Ethan Stiles, plus the sophomore quartet of Noah Taylor, Ryan Cough, Casey Hayes and Louis Nardis.
“We’ve lost our number one from last year in Brody Urban along with Drew Osborne, but surprisingly we have four guys right now shooting in the low 40s during qualifying,” head coach Sean Malone said as he prepares for his sixth season at the Homer helm.
“Brent McNeil is going to be our standout and our number one guy. He shot 38, 38, 39 in the first three days of qualifying,” added Malone. “Mike Turck is averaging close to 40 and is much improved. Louie Nardis is averaging 43 and Ethan Stiles is around 43 as well. Noah Goddard has improved by four or five strokes and is averaging around 41-42.
“You want five guys who can average in the low 40s,” he added. “I’m optimistic as we are practicing on one of the toughest courses we play during the season, Cortland Country Club. It is narrower than a number of the courses which are more wide open. I think it makes us better playing on a course like Cortland Country Club.”
Rounding out the Homer squad in 2016 are newcomers in junior Bryant Quinlan, junior Ryan Angell, junior Joey Tummino, sophomore Andrew Hage and sophomore Josh Alger.
“Casey Hayes is a second-year guy who is close to the top six,” Malone said. “We have some new guys in Bryant Quinlan, Ryan Angell and Joseph Tummino. These four guys will compete with the other five guys for a couple of starting spots if needed.
“It is nice that we are still a little young this year, but next year we will have a team of seniors,” Malone said. “We have experience at the top which is always nice. Those guys have played in varsity matches. That makes things very promising.”
Alger, Cough, Hage and Taylor will be on the practice squad.
Homer will stay in the Freedom National Division this season with Chittenango, Cortland, Mexico, Phoenix and fall golf newcomer Westhill. Auburn, Central Square, East Syracuse-Minoa Blue, Fulton, Jamesville-DeWitt and Oswego make up the Freedom American Division. The Liberty/Patriot Division will include Christian Brothers Academy, LaFayette, Tully and East Syracuse-Minoa Orange and another new fall golf newcomer, Skaneateles.
“I think the league will be very competitive,” Malone predicted, “with the addition of Westhill, Auburn and Skaneateles. J-D will be very good. CBA will be up and down. My goal is make sectionals as a team.”
After Tuesday’s opener, Homer will host Mexico Thursday at 11 a.m.