It was business as usual for Homer Central football Friday night on George Butts Field.
With senior tailback John Horner III on the bench with a foot injury for the second straight week, senior Lars Roos filled in with a solid 17 carries for 129 yards and three touchdowns while senior quarterback Tucker O’Donnell completed 5-of-7 passing attempts for 85 yards and three TDs as the Trojans shut out Westhill 40-0.
Homer, the state’s fourth-ranked Class B team, improves to 4-0 in the Section 3 B West Division and overall and now prepares for a 7 p.m. Homecoming showdown with 13th-ranked Chittenango on Butts Field this Friday. The Bears are 3-0 in B West, but dropped a 39-6 non-league game to rival Canastota (4-0), ranked sixth in Class C, to fall to 3-1 overall. Westhill fell to 2-2 in B West play and overall with the loss.
Homer held Westhill on the Warriors’ opening game possession when Dominick Natale recorded the first of the defense’s five quarterback sacks. Warriors starting quarterback Zavion Barrot was taken down four times and backup Marcus Welch once. Natale had two and a half sacks for a total of 16 yards lost. Justin Wainwright had one and a half sacks for four lost yards, and Chase Kiner sacked Welch for a four-yard loss in the the fourth quarter.
Natale was also on the receiving end of O’Donnell’s first touchdown pass of the evening. The third-and-12 scoring strike covered 45 yards and put the Trojans up 7-0 with 8:26 left in the
“We stuck to the game plan and did what we had to do,” Natale said. “We have a deep team, but it will be a lot more fun when we get John back. My teammates were able to keep (Barrot) in the pocket. That allowed me to go around the outside and get to the quarterback.”
The Trojans made it 13-0 with four seconds left in the first quarter when Roos broke free on a 15-yard run for his first score of the game.
“We just took off from what we did last week,” Roos said. “The focus was to hit Westhill hard just like we did at Solvay. The offensive line played phenomenal again. It was a great team win.
“We hit them hard up the middle. When we caught them sleeping a little, we could sweep them to the outside for some big runs.”
“We are at the midpoint of the season and two-thirds through our league season,” Homer coach Gary Podsiedlik said. “Next week, the winner of the Chittenango game will most likely be league champion.
“The defense set the tone for this game as did the kickoff team. The defense righted our course early. Our kids on the kickoff team were then fighting, in a good way, over who was going to make the tackle. They were seeing who could hustle the most. You like to see things like that.”
Homer made it 20-0 on its third possession of the game. O’Donnell hooked up with senior Stephen Walter on a 25-yard scoring pass with 6:36 left in the first half.
The Trojans got the ball right back on Westhill’s second snap from the line of scrimmage when Barrot fumbled the ball and senior defensive tackle Vincent Basile recovered at the Warrior six-yard line. One play later, Roos scored for a 26-0 Trojan lead after the failed two-point conversion try.
Homer completed a five-for-five effort — five touchdowns in the first five possessions — with some great clock management by O’Donnell. He marched the Trojans 59 yards in 10 plays, including two big scrambles of 13 and 22 yards while getting out of bounds to stop the clock. He capped the drive with a three-yard bullet pass to Wainwright for a 33-0 lead with 48 seconds left in the half. Natale would close out the half with his second sack of Barrot.
Homer began the second half with the ball, but the Trojans stumbled on a fumbled snap for a fourth down punt. Roos picked up the ball and tried to run, but was tackled on his own 11-yard line. On the very next play, Riley McNitt fumbled for Westhill and Krillin Drake pounced on the loose ball to give Homer the ball on their own nine.
Gabe Cline burst through the middle of the Warrior defense on a 22-yard run to start an 11-play, 91 yard scoring march that chewed up six minutes on the clock. Roos banged in from one yard out for a 40-0 Trojan lead with 3:01 left in the third quarter. Podsiedlik began emptying his bench from that point on.
Westhill ate up the rest of the clock in the third quarter and all but 2:47 of the fourth quarter on a 22-play drive, including four fourth-down conversions, but stalled at the Homer 10-yard line. Trying to avoid a shutout, the Warriors tried a 31-yard field goal that had the distance but was pulled wide to the left.
Outside of Roos, none of the other eight Trojan runners gained more than 35 yards, Four different receivers caught passes from O’Donnell. The Trojans ran for 283 yards as a team and had 368 yards in total offense. Homer did not turn the ball over in the game.
Westhill did gain 70 yards on the ground in the second half, but just 21 in the first half. Barrot was 2-for-7 passing for 22 yards while Welch was 0-for-three. Welch gained 76 of the Westhill 91 yards on the ground.
Anthony Parker (line) and Dante Yacavone (non-line) were the Blue Collar Award winners for Friday night’s game while Lars Roos was the game captain. At Solvay, Vinny Basile (line) and Zach Barber (non-line) were the Blue Collar players and Stephen Walter was the game captain.