Cortland High football coach Pete Reif knows what to expect when his Purple Tigers open the season by hosting rival Homer Central Friday in a 7 p.m. non-leaguer on Moiseichik Field.
At least somewhat.
“Every single year, you know that Homer’s going to be disciplined,” Reif said. “They’re not the most complicated team, but what they do they do very, very well. There are reasons for that. From youth football to modified to junior varsity to varsity, the program is consistent all the way through. That’s what we’re trying to do, getting started with some youth clinics this summer.”
Homer head coach Gary Podsiedlik just knows this game is always a special occasion, even with two teams no longer in the same division as was the case a year ago when the Trojans prevailed 18-0.
“I am pretty humble and appreciative that our community has an old school rivalry,” Podsiedlik said. “This Cortland County area has a traditional old school rivalry. It is always addressed by Section 3 and, even though Cortland is a Class A school this year, they make this game happen.
“In truth, the kids know each other and talk to each other,” he added. “They do tease each other, but it’s a healthy rivarly. It’s really been a competitive rivarly, it’s fairly close record-wise.”
This is the 38th time the two neighbors will be meeting, Homer with a 21-15-1 advantage in the series.
“They have 30 players and we have 24. This is the closest we’ve been numbers-wise in awhile,” noted Cortland’s Reif. “We know that they’ll be very well-coached, will come off the ball, hit you and know their responsibilities and won’t make many mistakes. We want to be every bit as disciplined as they are, make fewer mistakes and mental errors and be more physical than they are,” he said of his rivals.
What is unknown, according to Reif, from viewing video of the scrimmage Homer was part of Saturday in Ithaca is exactly what the Trojans intend to do on offense and defense.
“They weren’t going to show all that much in a scrimmage,” he said. “They didn’t show anything as far as offensive and defensive schemes go, but we’ve played them so often (five years in a row and nine out of the last 10) that we have a pretty good idea,” he added. “They go with the I formation, Offset I, Power I, Pro and Twins on offense and use a 3-5 base defense, though really they play as much 6-2 as they do 3-5. The have two players who seemed to stand out — Luke Sears (6-2, 218 pound left guard/defensive lineman) looks to be their best lineman on both sides of the ball, and Kevin Bush (5-9, 190 senior) is a good-sized tailback and also plays outside linebacker.”
The Trojans have won the last four games between the two teams — CHS’s last win was in 2011 — and Reif noted that “Our team has been excited about this game for a long time. We have 14 seniors, the most we’ve had in awhile,. and they, like everyone else, have been working hard. They don’t want to lose another game to Homer. They’re hungry for this one.
“We want a big crowd there. It would be nice to play in front of a packed stadium. We know a lot of people are excited about this game.”
Podsiedlik is impressed with the Purple Tigers.
“Cortland is doing so much, so well,” the Trojans’ coach stated. “Their focus is right here on week one. Pete is an amazing coach and he has a good staff. Our kids know that Cortland is working to earn respect. They looked excellent on the scrimmage tape we saw.
“I’m excited for the game,” he continued. “It will be smash-mouth. There will be some big plays. This should be a game everyone enjoys.”
— Another rivalry is also on tap for Friday night in Section 4, as Groton pays a 7 p.m. visit to Dryden.