All season long, people have known about Homer Central football as the Trojans have made it back to the Carrier Dome to face longtime rival Cazenovia for the Section 3 Class B Championship Saturday at 2 p.m.
Folks know the Blue Team, or starters, but many do not know about the unsung players on the roster, the White Team, which has its own nickname this season thanks to Trojans’ assistant coach Jim Whidden. It is a group that the Trojan starters like giving credit to for preparing them each week for the task ahead. So far it’s a perfect 9-0 season, one step away from the sectional title.
The guys who toil in the long hours of practice every day all season long with the hope of also seeing the playing field on game day are seniors Tommy Spinner, Chris DeLage and Lucas Sweeten along with juniors Joe Brady, Colin McNeill, Joshua Markley, Gabe Cline, John Denkenberger, Lane Quaile, Troy Gardner, Brandon Riley and Tommy Britt. They are each an individual part of the Trojans’ team, but they are also “Spoon’s Goon Platoon,” also known as the scout team.
“I think it just happened one day at practice,” Spinner said of the unit getting its nickname. “I love playing defense. I go as hard as I can trying to hit A.P. (center Anthony Parker). Everyone else goes hard as well trying to help the other guys get better. Coach Whidden just focused on me and gave us the name.”
“These guys have done a great job,” Whidden said. “I’ve been doing this for 20 some years and this is the best looking (scout) squad we’ve had. I just screwed up Tommy Spinner’s name and called him Timmy Spooner. Tommy is just a good light-hearted friendly kid. That evolved into T-Spoon and, when we put this thing all together, he was the leader of the pack and the group became Spoon’s Goon Platoon. They love it.”
The biggest job each week for Spoon’s Goon Platoon is giving the starting offense and defense the best look at what the opposition is going to throw at them. It’s an important job and one the scout team takes pride in.
“They play a very important role,” Whidden said. “We do try to mix things up a little by showing something that we didn’t necessarily see on film, but might be something the opponent might do, stunts or coverages, to make sure the offensive line knows what to expect. The guys do a good job with it and they have fun doing it. We like making things tough for the Blue offense.”
“All we really care about is making sure our starters are ready to go,” Spinner said. “I just pay attention to what the
coaches are telling me. It’s just listening and helping demonstrate as we go through it. It helps me memorize what’s needed to be done.”
Being a member of Spoon’s Goon Platoon means you still have to know what your assignment is for your team while also learning plays for the opposition.
“I honestly don’t see any difference,” Spinner said. “I think it is pretty much normal for us now.”
“The funny part is at the end of last week’s game against V-V-S, I called for Spoon’s Goon Platoon to go into the game on defense,” Whidden recalled. “After a couple of plays, Gary (Podsiedlik), Homer’s head coach, asked me what are they running? I said probably V-V-S’s 4-4 Cover 3 defense because our guys were stopping them. That’s what they knew. They are a good bunch of kids. It does take time to learn the other team’s tendencies and replicate that for our Blue Team. Of course, they are Homer Trojans in the end and they do their job as well.”
For Spinner, it is a second straight trip to the sectional final in the Carrier Dome. Going there is special and getting into the game would be icing on the cake. “It feels great,” Spinner said. “I hope I get in the game, but it’s really about the team doing good.”
No matter what, Spinner has seen improvement in himself over the season.
“Probably it’s my strength and stamina. You can build a lot of stamina from this sport.”
This is also a special game for Whidden, who played football for the Lakers in the early 1970’s.
“I am part of their legacy,” he said. “When we do play Cazenovia it’s for high stakes, it’s for sectional championships. We don’t play them in a crossover, the league tries to keep us away from each other for some reason, but when we do play them it’s usually in the Carrier Dome for the sectional title. I am proud to be a Cazenovia Laker alumnus, but I am also proud to kick their butts in the Dome.”
This is the third time in the past four seasons that Homer and Cazenovia have met for the Section 3 Class B crown. The Trojans won in 2014, the Lakers in 2016. Homer hopes the work of Spoon’s Goon Platoon will be the difference in making the Trojans 2017 champions.